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Cam Marston on Refilling the Hole

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We’re all familiar with the theory of evolution. We started as a tiny gooey water creature and have progressed into a sophisticated humans who can appreciate the subtleties between a cabernet and a merlot and agree on which pairs best with braised pork tenderloin. However, I can’t help wondering if some of us, namely, me, weren’t held back along the way.

For example, the James Webb Space Telescope launched on top of a rocket Christmas Day and is headed for what’s called an L2 orbit. It’s traveling at over 1100 miles per hour to get there. Once there it will stop and deploy sails to use the sun’s light to push it away from Earth at the same rate Earth’s gravity will pull it back, making it, essentially, hover.

Who can even conceive of this? Who knew that light from the sun even pushes on things? Makes things warm, yes, but pushes? I can’t even fathom the questions necessary to come up with these concepts. My little arts and sciences brain can’t even imagine what types of questions someone must ask to come up with the questions that begin to make this happen. It’s so far beyond me. How can these people and I possibly be on the same evolutionary progression? We can’t be.

Last weekend I was refilling a hole in my yard that was dug to fix a broken water pipe. When I finished filling the hole, using all the same dirt that was dug out of the hole, there was not enough dirt to refill the hole. How can it be possible that there’s not enough dirt? I stood there, leaning on my shovel, wondering “How can the same dirt not refill this hole?” Yet out there somewhere are scientists who know how to get a picture taking satellite the size of a tennis court into an orbit four times further away than the moon and make it stop and hover. I should be proud to say I’m even of the same species as these scientists but I’m betting they wouldn’t say the same about me.

Once in orbit, the telescope will take pictures of the edge of the universe. The pictures will help scientists figure out where we and everything that exists came from. All learned by looking at pictures - of the edge of the universe.

I wondered, “Maybe there a better question mankind should try to answer? I mean, we’ve lived with not knowing where we’ve come from for eons and we seem to be OK with not knowing. Maybe we like not knowing. Maybe we’ll learn something and wish we hadn’t asked the question. Maybe there’s a more practical, more helpful question?”

Or maybe I should take a bunch of pictures of this unfilled hole in my yard and stare at them for answers to why the same amount dirt won’t fill it up. I think that’s about all my evolutionary progress is capable of anyway.

I’m Cam Marston and I’m just trying to Keep It Real.

Edited by Braylan Hurst

Cam Marston is the Keepin' It Real host for Alabama Public Radio.