‘The Light From The Distant Galaxies Is A Result Of The Afterglow Of The Big Bang’

Carter Emmart giving a presentation. Photo: Arun Sehrawat
Carter Emmart giving a presentation. Photo: Arun Sehrawat

Carter Emmart’s job profile epitomises every child’s fantasy and can even make adults turn a darker shade of green. He uses astronomy and computational modelling to create three-dimensional tours of the universe.  Emmart made a presentation at THiNK 2013 today titled ‘Lord of the Rings: The Universe in 3D’, which took the audience back by millions of years into the past, and gave them a glimpse into the mechanics behind the evolution of our universe.

The digital atlas he displays, part of his NASA-funded Digital Atlas Project, is actually a compilation of data that Emmart calls the ‘digital universe’ – a map of planets, stars, galaxies that humanity has been collating for years. It was built at the American Museum of Natural History to chart the universe, with the help of NASA.

The presentation aimed to help understand the complexity and the correlation of gravity and mass. Says Emmart, “There is not enough mass absorbed from what we can account for from galaxies. What we are seeing is a simulation of the universe, of gravity and mass that start to pull in and cluster the universe.”

“When we look back into the universe, we are actually looking into the past, the light from the distant galaxies is a result of the afterglow of the big bang.” However, Emmart cautioned about the possible consequences our consumerist lifestyle might have for Earth. He states that, “we are rapidly consuming the surface of this planet, altering it, and its ability to rejuvenate itself.” The idea of the digital universe for him was to bring people together, to promote eco-literacy and to look at opportunities to share their knowledge of the digital database with the rest of the world.

Emmart concludes that like most human beings, the earth too is going through an identity crisis,with all the rapid changes being done to its topography: “What the world needs to do now is to look at itself in a larger sense. We need to look at ourselves in a larger context. Our home is the universe. The digital atlas helps us understand where we are and who we are in the universe. ”

By Donna Mathew


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