James Webb and the Giant Universe

Dr. Munr Kazmir
5 min readJan 9, 2022

The James Webb Space Telescope is the new, more powerful Hubble. What will it find out there?

A graphic representing the science themes of the James Webb Space Telescope. Read more: jwst.nasa.gov. Image credit: The Space Telescope Science Institute

When the James Webb Space Telescope lifted off from planet Earth on Christmas Day, 2021, it was the cumulation of decades of efforts. Some might even say it was the fruition of a project began centuries ago, and thousands of years before that; perhaps even a million.

As long as homo sapiens have been able to gaze into the heavens and imagine what might be up there in all that blackness among the brilliant spots of light, we’ve speculated about it, made up stories about it, dreamed about going there.

There have been significant breakthroughs in our quest to get answers. Everything from the invention of the zero by ancient Arab mathematicians to Copernicus to the invention of the pentium processor have helped realize our ultimate dream of space exploration.

We’ve been to the moon, checked out Mars- via our technology, anyway. In 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope was launched, a far-seeing eye which promised to allow us the opportunity to peer further into space than anyone ever dreamed.

And peer we did.

As spectacular image after spectacular image began to drift down from the firmament, scientists at NASA got some answers; along with more questions than ever and Fermi’s age-old question/paradox still burning hotter than ever:

Where is everyone?

Space is awfully big. It turns out the universe is larger than scientists believed at the time when Hubble first took to the skies three decades ago; much larger. That’s a great deal of wasted real estate, if indeed planet Earth is the one place in all that vastness to host intelligent life.

What is NASA’s new deep space telescope looking for? In a word, answers.

Answers about the beginning of the universe, answers about why life exists on Earth; answers about life elsewhere in the universe: For these questions and many others, NASA gives us the James Webb Space Telescope.

Many orders of magnitude more powerful than its predecessor Hubble, Webb will be able to give us a glimpse of human history so distant as to be invisible even to the Hubble-enhanced human eye.