James Webb Space Telescope—Resolving the Confusion

If you follow science, you must have heard about the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which was launched on December 25, 2021. The JWST is a great advancement compared to its cousin the Hubble Space Telescope, which was launched in 1990. The Hubble rotates around Earth at an altitude of about 525 km. Like Earth, the JWST rotates around the sun; it is at about one million kilometers from Earth. For the JWST to avoid the direct sun, Earth is always between it and the sun. The light-catching capacity of the JWST is about six times that of the Hubble. The Hubble Space Telescope has been sending amazing images of the universe “out there.” The JWST is a much more powerful telescope and, being in outer space with much less disturbance, the images it sends are just breathtaking.

The goal of the JWST is to peer deeper into space and to find out the events around the Big Bang moment. Scientists tell us that the Big Bang took place 13.7 billion years ago. The universe began with this Big Bang. Scientists believe that a vast amount of energy was jammed into a very tiny point, which they call a Singularity. This extremely dense point exploded with unimaginable force and temperature. As expansion took place, the temperature cooled down and the hydrogen atom was formed. We know from our chemistry classes that hydrogen is the most basic atom, with one proton and one electron. Slowly, these basic atoms started to combine to create a more complex atomic structure for a wide range of elements. These elements were then the basis for the formation of stars. Subsequently, these stars started to form galaxies. Galaxies are massive structures with many hundreds of millions of stars within them. Scientists estimate that the formation of a galaxy takes over a billion years. It is estimated that there are around a billion galaxies—some are small while others are bigger. Also, some are relatively new while others are much older.

With this cosmic understanding, the JWST started its deep space exploration around June 2022. The Hubble with its limited power had no chance to look that deep into space. The images and data collected by the JWST were indeed revolutionary. It captured images of when the universe was only 200 million years old. Since it is estimated that the universe is 13.7 billion years old, the JWST has been capturing images of the universe 13.5 billion years away. At that time, the universe was in the early stage of formation. According to the Big Bang Theory, the universe was gaseous and in the stage of formation of hydrogen atoms.

When the data from the JWST was analyzed, scientists expected that they would view images of the early stages of the formation of the universe. They got a complete shock—they saw galaxies in an advanced stage of maturity! This was completely unexpected. How could galaxies, which take billions of years to form, be so huge and complete? This has completely foxed astronomers and cosmologists. This has shaken their faith in the Big Bang Theory. In fact, they feel they must go back to square one in their understanding of the universe “out there.” They need to go back to the drawing board and start their journey once again. Obviously, the current path has not worked; they need to make a radical shift in their approach toward and understanding of the universe.

Firstly, they need a fresh perspective on what really happened before, at, and after the Big Bang moment. This subject has been discussed in detail in my essay “Big Bang—A Fresh Perspective.” I would request everyone to read this essay.

Also, they need a new approach on understanding the framework of space and how and why the universe is expanding. This expansion is caused by the stretching of the time fabric. This stretching of time makes the distant galaxies appear further away than they normally should be. It is an optical illusion created by Nature and makes the universe look larger than expected. This may be the reason why the JWST found the distant galaxies more mature and complete than expected. To understand and resolve this confusion, it is very important to properly understand the time fabric. Time fabric (or spacetime) is a term coined by Einstein in his Theory of General Relativity. The focus of this essay is to explore and discuss this subject.   

Understanding Space

The sky watchers through their powerful telescopes have discovered so much. They have mapped the entire sky with billions of galaxies. They have discovered black holes, stars, and so much more. In spite of all this, they still have a limited understanding of the basic framework of space and of why the universe is expanding.

So, how is the framework of space structured? This is where the confusion begins. Science teaches us that space started with the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago. Thus, the starting point of space is the Big Bang. Is this correct? Yes, the start of space is the Big Bang, but that event was 13.7 billion years ago. Where is the starting point of space “right now”?

It is not the Big Bang; the Big Bang is the outer edge of the universe. It is at the other end. It is, therefore, NOT the start of the framework of space. No one has seen the edge of the universe, so how can it be called the start of space? This incorrect understanding about the start of space is the underlying cause of the confusion about space. This misunderstanding has led to the lack of proper knowledge about the construction of space, how fast it is expanding, and why there is an uneven expansion all over the universe.

So, what is the starting point of space “right now”? As we have discussed this in many different essays, you may have guessed the correct answer. The correct answer is that you are the starting point of space. The observer within you, the observer within me, the observer within every living being is the starting point of space. You can call this starting point t=0 for space. The observer is the start of space; it is therefore the t=0 for the framework. If you have my book Science Meets Vedanta, you will find that this topic has been discussed in many different essays.

Connection between Time and Space: Yes, time and space are connected. Time is the cause, and space the effect. If there was no time, there would be no space. Space is nothing but stretched-out time. How should we understand this?

Scientists tell us that the universe is 13.7 billion years old. If light must travel from the outer edge of the universe, it will take 13.7 billion years to reach us. The distance that light must travel is 13.7 billion light-years. One light-year is the amount of distance light travels in one year.

Let us play around with the age of the universe and the size of the universe. If we assume that the universe is 13.7 billion years old at this very “moment,” then the size of space is 13.7 billion light-years. After one second, the age of the universe will be 13.7 billion years + one second. Light must now travel an additional 186,000 miles to reach us, which means the size of the universe has grown by 186,000 miles. The size of the universe would be 13.7 billion light-years + 186,000 miles. After 10 seconds, the age of the universe would be 13.7 billion years + 10 seconds, and the size of space would be 13.7 billion light-years + 1,860,000 miles. After one year, the age of the universe would be 13.7 billion years + one year, and the size of the universe would be 13.7 billion light-years + one light-year.

From the above analysis, it is quite clear that time is the cause of space. As long as time passes, space will continue to expand. With each second of time that passes, the universe expands by 186,000 miles. This means that the outer edge of the universe is expanding by 186,000 miles every second, which is the speed of light. This is an amazing conclusion.

Understanding Time Fabric: The first step is properly to understand some key terms used while describing space. Einstein coined the term “spacetime” to describe the fabric of the universe. This term causes confusion. There are now two terms—there is space and there is spacetime. What is the difference? Space is what we see when we look out, and everything in space is measured in distances. The tree is 200 feet away; the plane is flying at 30,000 feet. Space is visible and operates in three dimensions.

Spacetime looks at the same objects in terms of time. This term is confusing because there is no space in spacetime; there is only time. In spacetime, the measurement is in units of time alone; no distances are measured. For example, light takes eight minutes to reach us from the sun; the distant star is 500 million light-years away. Everything in spacetime is measured only in time. There are NO distances, only time. Time fabric is more accurate and conveys the meaning that time alone is the variable in spacetime. Henceforth, we will refer to spacetime fabric as time fabric.

Spacetime Fabric = Time Fabric

Science wrongly conveys the impression that the time fabric operates in space. This is wrong because time operates on a different plane. As Einstein stated, spacetime operates in the fourth dimension. Where is the fourth dimension? One thing is clear: the fourth dimension cannot function in the three dimensions, otherwise we would have to say that space has four dimensions. Time and the time fabric, the fourth dimension—it cannot function in space. Then, where does time function; where does the time fabric operate? If it is not space—then where? If you think and analyze, the only other logical place where time and the time fabric function is the mind. The fourth dimension is within the mind. Strange, but it is the truth. Please read my essay “Understanding Time,” where we have analyzed and shown that time is a function of the mind. Time operates only within the mind.

Creation of Space: So how is space created? Brahman, our innermost core, is the source of infinite energy. Please read my essay “Awareness—The Infinite Energy Source” for a detailed explanation. A part of this infinite energy, which we can call dark energy, interacts with the time fabric. This dark energy is used to stretch out the time fabric. Dark energy has the capacity to stretch time. That is the property and function of dark energy. One second of the time fabric is stretched out to become 186,000 miles of space. All the space we see “out there” is because the time fabric is stretched out to become space. Space has been created by the time fabric. The time fabric is the basic ingredient of space. One second of the time fabric becomes 186,000 miles of space.

Framework of Space: With this understanding of the time fabric and of the creation of space, we can draw some important conclusions about the framework of space.

1. The starting point of the time fabric and space is the observer within us. It is always the t=0 for space. This is the fixed starting point of space.

2. The outer edge of the time fabric of the universe is 13.7 billion years away. This outer edge is expanding by 186,000 miles every second or one light-year every year.

3. We see that the starting point of space is always fixed at t=0; it never changes. However, the outer edge of space is expanding by one light-year every year. So, what happens in between the starting point and the outer edge of the time fabric? To understand this, imagine a rubber band which is fixed at one end while the other end is pulled outward. You will notice that the expansion of the different parts of the rubber band is different. The outer edges will expand much faster compared to the part of the rubber band that is closer to the fixed point. As you move away from the starting or fixed point, the expansion of the rubber band will be larger.

This is exactly what is happening to the time fabric. The start of the time fabric is fixed at t=0, and the outer edge is expanding every second. As time flows, the outer edge of the time fabric keeps expanding. Since the starting point is fixed and the outer edge is expanding, the entire time fabric is pulled outward. The expansion of time is uneven all through the time fabric. Time is less stretched at the starting point and much more stretched out at the outer edge. What does this stretching of the time fabric mean? It means that the size of one second of time is uneven all through the time fabric. The size of one second is less at the starting point, while it is most stretched at the outer edges. The size of one second is more stretched as one moves from the starting point to the outer edges of the fabric. In fact, there is a compounding effect that takes place all through the time fabric. The first second is stretched outward. The next second will include the stretching of the first one and its own outward stretch. The third second will include the stretch of the first two and its own stretch. This process will apply all through the time fabric. As we come closer to the outer edge of the time fabric—billions and billions of seconds away—this compounding effect will stretch the time fabric immensely.

It may seem strange that time can have different durations and units. There are many factors which can influence time—motion, energy, etc. This is a proven fact. Einstein’s Theory of Relativity deals with this subject, and it has been proven under many different circumstances.

What effect does the expanding size of one second of the time fabric have on space? One second of the time fabric always becomes 186,000 miles of space. The speed of light is always 186,000 per second under all circumstances. The speed of light never changes. Because of the stretching of the time fabric, the duration of one second is more stretched. When this stretched out second becomes space, the size of the 186,000 miles of space is much larger. In other words, the size of space is much larger with the stretched-out time. The universe will appear larger than if there is no stretching of time. This apparent expansion will be much larger and more prominent at the outer edges than closer to the starting point, which is the observer. The compounding effect discussed earlier will make space look much larger in the outer regions of space.

What an illusion is being created by Nature! Nature is making space look larger and bigger. This illusion is what is foxing the scientists looking at distant galaxies using the JWST. The JWST looks deep into space, finding mature galaxies which are beyond 13.7 billion years. I read that they have found a galaxy which is 33 billion years old. All these galaxies are beyond the starting point or birth of the universe. I am guessing that the scientists must rework their calculation methods to estimate the distances of these galaxies. They need to discount all the stretching of time which is taking place in the time fabric. I am sure that once this is done, the correct distances for all the faraway galaxies will be known. This will bring out the correct picture of all the galaxies “out there”—both near and far away.

As a conclusion, it is critical that the scientific community understand and realize that the starting point of space is the observer, which is within each one of us. This community also needs to understand the importance of the time fabric in creating space, and how the stretching of the time fabric is creating an illusion of the size of the universe. If these factors are accepted, the misunderstanding created by the JWST images will be resolved, otherwise we will continue to remain confused and live in ignorance.

3 thoughts on “James Webb Space Telescope—Resolving the Confusion”

  1. The Big bang theory was and is negated by Adwaitins in Nasadiya Suktam. If space didn’t exist before BigBang , how could it stand and where? That’s ” sat ” in the Sat-Chit . Sat and Chit together were, are and will be “out there”. NasadiyaSuktam says ” it existed and didn’t exist”. If God created it where was He before it was created.

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