Questions of the Universe

The expansion of the universe through dark energy and the man-made concept of time were vast and often confusing concepts of intellect explored and discussed by Bob Berman when he came to SUNY New Paltz last week.

On Tuesday, Sept. 22, Berman of the Overlook Observatory in Woodstock spoke at the Coykendall Science Building Auditorium about the nature of the universe, our perception of it and what it all means to us and to the general scheme of, well, the universe itself.

The room was packed with students and local residents eager to listen to Berman talk about how we, with conscious minds, understand and experience the universe. One of the attendees, Resident Assistant Daniel Brogen, found the lecture, and the whole topic of astronomy, a fascinating yet definitely humbling area of study.

Throughout the lecture, Berman talked about the deep stretch of the universe (the actual length of which is unknown or never ending), our human consciousness and perception and how our current knowledge of the universe is liable to change in the next few years.

“The answers we get are largely unsatisfying,” Berman said, demonstrating that the answers we have now aren’t much in the grand scheme of things. “The question of consciousness is the biggest one,” he said, proving that a big part of our knowledge of the universe ultimately depends on our perception and the facts are very limited.

Berman, explained that while the universe itself is constantly expanding, planets already in existence that have settled into a solar system, like Earth will not be affected by this growth; even when we are long gone. The only thing that will change for us, is our perceptions will become less and less accurate.

When asked about why he enjoys speaking to people about the universe, Berman said, “It’s wonderful to share the strange ways of how our universe works.” He hopes to inspire people to investigate more about the universe and that they will unveil even more secrets as time goes on.

As vast and complex as the universe is, it is true that a lot of secrets are held. While this lecture did not unveil any, it was still fascinating to look at how the universe works in ways we couldn’t imagine before. But even with our improving technology and different perspectives, humans will never discover all the answers to the universe.