Religion Magazine

On Listening…

By Richardl @richardlittleda

… to sounds like these

If I have understood it correctly, the story of yesterday’s scientific discovery runs something like this:

One billion years ago a very long way away, two black holes collided. The resulting shockwave traveled across the universe, getting weaker all the time. By the time it reached a research facility in Washington State, the resulting audio disturbance could be measured at less than the size of a sub-atomic particle. Nonetheless, the scientists at LIGO were listening, and have recorded the sound of that much-travelled wave.

Not surprisingly, they are thrilled at this scientific discovery. To be found listening at just the right moment with just the right equipment to an event which happened one billion years ago is, to say the least, fortuitous. With a typical marriage of science and poetry, Gabriela Gonzalez, from LIGO, announced that ‘we have heard the universe.’ It truly is a remarkable sound, in every way.

I have to confess, though, that for me it is not the most remarkable sound in the universe. That particular honor goes to the fragile sound of a human baby’s cry – the noise of the very species which made the discovery announced yesterday. A baby’s cry is the herald of limitless possibilities and the sound of defiantly wonderful humanity. I was talking about it on the radio earlier today. As long as there are babies whose voice cannot be heard because pregnancies fail to go full term, there is something wrong with the universe. My heart, and my admiration, goes out to those scientists who are working to make it a less and less frequent occurrence.


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