The Cosmic Telescope: Understanding the Immensity of the Universe

Explore Einstein rings, elliptical galaxies, and a universe larger than you can imagine.

5. 19. 16 by Daniel Barker
2MASS/J. Carpenter, M. Skrutskie, R. Hurt
Image by 2MASS/J. Carpenter, M. Skrutskie, R. Hurt

Albert Einstein is well known for his contributions to theoretical physics. He gave us General Relativity and revealed the connective tissue between space and time—he gave us spacetime. His legacy, and his contributions, endure to this day (gravitational waves, anyone?).

Although he contributed to the sciences in many different ways, ultimately winning the Nobel for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect, the source of many of his contributions are, of course, his theories of Special and General Relativity.

With these discoveries, Einstein explained the nature of light and gravity, and he gave us new eyes with which to view the cosmos. In short, when we look out into the night sky, we see that he was right—mass changes the path of light. When we were finally able to look out deep into the early universe, we saw massive elliptical galaxies warping spacetime and visibly bending the light of background galaxies.

We had found nature’s lens; a cosmic telescope.


But this episode isn’t just about Einstein and bending galaxies, but also about the immensity of the universe and our (paradoxically) inconsequential and significant place within it.

Written, narrated, and edited by Daniel James Barker

Music By: Chris ZabriskieJoseph Barker

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