The Shape of Things

This is the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, a picture taken over 7 days of a spot in the sky smaller than your pinky. Every object here is a galaxy, some over 11 billion light years away. Since it takes light a certain distance to travel to your eye (or the telescope), whatever you see is in the past. 11 billion light years means 11 billion years ago. Here:
And here's a similar graph for the awesome WMAP satellite:
As you can see, the CMBR pic in the previous post is from very early on in the Universe - before stars, before light could spread freely. The Dark Ages was the era of heavy, swirling clouds of gas so thick light could not escape, and blackness was upon everything. But one day a star was born and the darkness was broken.

With every ray of light, with every act, with every Big Bang, you can think of the existence of this thing as a cone, with a past, present, and future. Witness:
The cones are light, past and future; the red arrow moving through it is an electron, or a star, or you, anything that exists. Since there is one cone we are all contained within - the Big Bang. And we are but red lines squiggling along, all doing the best we can.

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