Comets are made of snow and dust. They belong to what we call the dirty snowballs of space. They come from the most distant edges of the solar system.
It is likely that comets come from the Kuiper Belt near Neptune, and some from Oort cloud which is a further distant reservoir of comets.
During the course of a year, about a dozen comets come within the range of amateur telescopes. Most of these come and go quietly with little fanfare, but some are particularly noticeable such as the one we see today.
This is rare and green. It is remote yet serene. It first came in the line of sight of astronomers on March 2, 2022. It is called C/2022 E3. It has been making close rounds to earth since January this year.
On 1st of February 2023, it shall pass closest to us at 26 million miles or 42 million kilometres as reported by NASA. The Virtual Telescope Project will be hosting a free livestream of comet C/2022 E3 on the day at 11:00 p.m of Eastern Standard Time, EST.
It is a very powerful set of real, robotic telescopes, remotely accessible online, through the Internet for one’s own astronomical experience! Here one can learn about many of its features, making it a unique and leading facility in the world.
The comet can be watched courtesy of the project’s website or YouTube channel. This comet had visited us in ice age about 50,000 years ago when we lived as Neanderthals, without class and caste distinctions. We had not progressed much but we were in a great making.
Today it shall watch us with all our accomplishments, having advanced from ice age to global warming, being mighty and multiplied, divided and diversified. In its next coming, it may possibly see us having inhabited a different planet.
Comets traverse infinite nights and interstellar spaces in the limitless expanse of cosmos. According to Jonathan Swift, ‘Old men and comets have been reverenced for the same reason: their long beards, and pretences to foretell events’.
For most part of the history of humankind, people have been helpless to understand how nature works, so we took every star and comet personally thereby creating myths and mocks. There has always been the same amount of general illumination in the world.
The eclipses did not decline it, nor did the comets enhance it. Yet owing to superstitions, comets are considered as dark devilish agents related to bad omen. For some, the appearance of comets is the time of fulfillment of a prayer or a wish, for others these are portents of calamities and disaster.
The practicing physicists, free from bizarre beliefs can fairly see comets as icy balls obeying gravity. More importantly, someone like Newton who is perfectly curious and perfectly conscious, sums it up as, “This most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. And if the fixed stars are the centres of other like systems, these, being formed by the like wise counsel, must be all subject to the dominion of One; especially since the light of the fixed stars is of the same nature with the light of the sun.”
Newton was fiercely religious and he believed that God was actively involved in the Universe. For him God constitutes the space and duration and created every entity in this warp of spacetime. Thinking about God is neither outdated nor unscientific.
Science and God are not mutually exclusive. For Newton, “If there exists a God, he has to be extremely powerful, absolutely present, and unique.”
This is coincidentally a direct and literal translation of chapter 112 of glorious Quran which ends in four lines attributing four descriptions to God as the One, the Eternal, neither begets nor is borne and there is nothing unto HIM.
No one can pass this stringent test of originality and uniqueness than God himself.
Albert Einstein had also recognized the impossibility of a non-created universe, saying “Everyone who is seriously committed to the cultivation of science becomes convinced that in all the laws of the universe, is manifest a spirit vastly superior to man, and to which we with our powers must feel humble.”
When atheists are presented with intelligent design of the Universe, they refute the same by pointing to the diseases, mutations, and natural calamities that destroy life and the environment. They want a uniformly fair and just God. Look why HE can’t be so, so soon.
A well-known dictum is that justice should not only be done but it should appear to have been done. To realise the same, the conditions of the living world have to be heterogeneous not homogenous.
The successes and failures can’t be distinguished without a Test on Time scale. Consequently, the even scales of justice will mandatorily manifest on what is called the doomsday.
And that is what has been promised across all faiths. What we know in science till date is that a Universe arising from a creator is definitely possible but isn’t necessarily mandatory.
The God debate is on with a tilt towards Godly. The ungodly are most unlikely to get through. Physicists are already fond of God particle. Currently they are working hard on God equation to provide an explanation to everything that is around.
Dr. Qudsia Gani, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Physics, Govt. College for Women, Srinagar
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.