” … Now Comes the Hard Part.”


“As JWST separated from its rocket’s upper stage, a video feed showed the now-independent spacecraft gleaming in sunlight, capturing one last close-up look at the observatory before its quest to pierce the veil of cosmic darkness took it inaccessibly far from Earth. “When we look farther, delve deeper, or measure more precisely, we’re bound to find something wondrous,” says Ken Sembach, the Space Telescope Science Institute’s director. “Today we said goodbye to the telescope on the ground and we opened our eyes to the universe.”

The moment JWST’s solar panels emerged, control of the mission officially shifted to Baltimore. For the Space Telescope Science Institute, says Massimo Stiavelli, head of the JWST mission office, “the easy part is done, and the hard part starts now.” Then he laughs. “It’s the best Christmas ever.”” Scientific American.

Comment: I got up yesterday morning to watch the launch. It was flawless, not a hiccup anywhere in the process. Considering that, it is remarkable that the media, including Foxnews did its best to ignore the event. There was very little mention of the launch anywhere in the US media.

Perhaps this reflects the attitude of most Americans of disdain for anything done by the Europeans, especially the French, the fabled “cheese eating surrender monkeys.”

Or perhaps the disdain reflects the attitude of Dana Perino the Foxnews process lady, who states on their air that any money spent on space is money wasted. OK, she has her new Viszla puppy, Percy, to obsess over.

Or perhaps this indifference reflects the Democrat/Marxist focus on re-creation of the USSR on US soil, complete with a proletariat ruled over by themselves as nomenklatura in alliance with their monied allies.

Well, pilgrims, Webb is now 150k miles from earth and going strong. pl



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34 Responses to ” … Now Comes the Hard Part.”

  1. It has been a long time coming.
    My prediction still stands, that they will see the cosmic background radiation as the light of ever further sources, shifted off the visible spectrum. Which means it will be much harder to ignore the universe as infinite and this will reverberate much deeper into our intellectual establishment and traditions, than even finding evidence of life on other planets.
    For one thing, the one way light will redshift over distance, rather than recession alone, is as “packets,” because the higher frequencies dissipate faster. The problem this poses for the larger theoretical physics community, is it means quantization of light is an effect of absorption and measurement, rather than fundamental to the light itself. So the photons our instruments can measure are samplings of a wave front, not individual quanta traveling billions of lightyears.
    Given the field has wandered off into post-empirical “science,” in order to sustain the current model, it goes to deep social and cultural issues about authority versus reality.
    Of course, I predicted the same thing about the Hubble and they’ve still managed to keep shoe-horning everything into the model.
    From 2007;

    • blue peacock says:

      What we can “see” from the light spectrum only represents around 5% of the radiation. The other 95% is dark matter/energy. New instruments that can measure and analyze this is the next step.

      What the combination of Hubble, Webb and Roman can do is provide much more accurate measurements of the acceleration of the expansion of the Universe as well as the composition and formation of the earliest galaxies.

      • Dark matter and energy are patches. Accountants use math as well. What if they came across a gap in your books, just wrote in a figure to fill it and called it, “dark money?”
        It used to be that when there was a gap between prediction and observation, the possibility the theory was falsified was at least considered.
        If cosmic redshift is an effect that is compounding on itself and going parabolic, that would far more economically explain the curve in the rate, than assuming most of the energy in the universe is invisible. Ockham’s Razor.
        Waves tend to either synchronize, which is inherently centripetal, or harmonize, which is centrifugal, because the radiating energy equalizes. Given gravity is a centripetal effect, possibly there is an inherent synchronizing dynamic permeating all fields, rather than a specific force and mass is an effect of this, rather than the other way around.
        Consider that quasars shoot out the poles of galaxies. As giant lasers, they are synchronized light waves.
        Obviously I’m one of the myriad crackpots out there, trying to make some sense of a situation where even the experts generally admit to being at a loss, except that they know the methods they have been using are right and only need a little more tweaking.
        Epicycles were brilliant math, as description, while the crystalline spheres were lousy physics, as explanation. We are in a similar situation, where the establishment has too much invested in their beliefs.

        • blue peacock says:

          “It used to be that when there was a gap between prediction and observation, the possibility the theory was falsified was at least considered.”

          I wouldn’t say “falsified” but rather incorrect or even incomplete. That’s still the case to some extent as not everyone is beholden to the prevailing groupthink. Although that is becoming more challenging as the large pools of research funds gets allocated by bureaucrats who definitely don’t challenge the groupthink. We see that in spades in the field of biology right now as Fauci controls billions and no one dare challenge his “wisdom”, sorry, The Science, although he has been proven consistently wrong.

          When Newton wrote Principia in the 1600s he left to the reader to figure out how gravitation exerted across space. It took until Einstein to provide a mathematical explanation. While that mathematics have enabled us to launch space probes with great accuracy we’re a long way from having a coherent mathematical or qualitative explanation of the complexities of the dynamic cosmos. Having more powerful instruments will allow us to continually gain better understanding of the age old questions that have been explored by both philosophers and scientists for millennia.

          Very little in astrophysics is settled. The one thing that remains is the awe of the scale of the universe and/or multiverse. I’m reminded of the words of Carl Sagan.

    • jld says:

      It will always be difficult to draw definite conclusions about whatever observations we may make.
      The photons deemed to be both waves and particles are probably neither but “something else”.
      In the words of J. B. S. Haldane, “the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose”.

      • What if our rather complex physical state means some of that chaos is a consequence of our point of view and the universe is actually much simpler than we imagine?
        Example; Is time the point of the present, moving past to future, that we experience as mobile organisms with a sequential process of perception, in order to navigate, or is it change turning future to past? Such as tomorrow becomes yesterday, because the earth turns.
        In which case, time is an effect, like temperature, pressure, color and sound. Time is frequency, events are amplitude.
        Then there is no literal dimension of time, because the past is consumed by the present, to inform and drive it. Aka, causality and conservation of energy. Cause becomes effect.
        In which case, energy is “conserved,” because it is the physical state of the present, creating time. So the energy, as present, goes past to future, while the patterns generated go future to past.
        Energy drives the wave, while the fluctuations rise and fall.
        Consider that consciousness goes past to future, while the perceptions, emotions and thoughts giving it form and structure go future to past. Though it’s our digestive, respiratory and circulatory systems processing the energy, while the central nervous system sorts the information. Can you see why an inherent intellectual capacity for studying patterns might not be giving us a clear picture?

    • Bill Roche says:

      The “hard part” will be accepting the universe as infinite despite what Genesis and other creation stories tell us. Football games have a beginning and end, so do concerts and wars. Human lives do too and that makes life understandable. What if we discover that with the Universe infinity really means infinite? Can any of us “get our heads around” this idea? Red shifts would be irrelevant. The universe only expands to subsequently contract. How many big bangs have there been and in an infinite universe would that matter? Two tunes from my youth come to mind. Arlo Guthrie had a goof tune with “Moma’s got a squeeze box, daddy cant sleep at night. It goes in and out and in and out”. CSN had a musical assertion, “We have all been here before, we have all been here before.” The cultural implications of that will be the hard part.

      • Culturally, the reality boils down to more yin and yang, than God Almighty.
        The opposite of the infinite is the absolute. The unmoving void of absolute zero. The vacuum through which light travels at C.

  2. zmajcek says:

    there is nothing negative to report so the media ignores it

  3. sbin says:

    The reverse origami need to unfurl the shield and mirrors is the hard part.
    How all goes as planned that is a truly magnificent scientific instrument.

  4. blue peacock says:

    Col. Lang,

    I highly recommend this interview of the physicists and astronomers who will be among the first to use the data from the Webb Space telescope.


    Not only does this interview exemplify how interviews should be conducted but it provides a wealth of information easily digestible by lay people.

    Then there’s this talk + Q&A of Ken Sembach the director of the Space Telescope Science Institute at Johns Hopkins from a few years back discussing the impact to astronomy of the Webb telescope.


    With the launch of the Roman Space telescope around 2027, and the combination of Hubble, Webb and Roman our understanding of the Universe will achieve a quantum shift. I can’t imagine what we’ll learn in the next 50 years. My belief is that as a species we’ll hopefully learn that protecting the health & biodiversity of our planet should be one of our highest priorities as it has taken billions of years to get there with a set of possibly rare confluences.

  5. Christian J. Chuba says:

    I love space projects. One that really intrigues me and by that I mean, ‘how did they do it’ is the Parker Solar probe https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parker_Solar_Probe

    This has already orbited our sun at 2.5Gm, and will orbit the sun a total of 24 times. It will eventually get within 1Gm (Gm is billion meters) of the sun’s surface. Mercury’s closest orbit to the sun is 46Gm.
    To operate a satellite like this to actually record data and transmit it in this environment environment is remarkable. And we are able to do this for $1.5B? This makes me proud :-), it really does.

    Think of the planning it required and all of the obstacles the people involved in that project had to overcome. $1.5B for that kind of know how is worth it and I’m certain we will learn very useful things about plasma, magnetic fields, solar flares, possibly fusion reaction.
    It is actually using Venus for a gravity assist to help it adjust its orbit around the sun.

  6. TTG says:

    It is a shame that this launch and the whole Webb telescope mission isn’t better covered. I imagine we’ll see some MSM coverage once the images start coming in next Summer… or if the mission fails along the way. Remember the biggest coverage of the Hubble telescope was its initial failure and the Space Shuttle rescue mission. Even our Moon landings became pretty ho hum rather quickly. We’re a fickle people preoccupied with our own real and perceived problems and excited only by stories of disaster and the misfortune of others.

  7. akaPatience says:

    I can’t wait to discover what we learn and see from this brilliant endeavor. Maybe it’ll nudge some self-absorbed navel gazers to broaden their vision. These are exciting times!

    • walrus says:

      The Universe is not expanding, there was no “big bang”. No dark matter ( aka “magic faerie dust) is needed. Billions have been wasted on this goose chase.

      The big bang was postulated circa 1924 by a Catholic priest looking for a scientific explanation for genesis.

      The Webb telescope will confirm this.


      Even Hubble acknowledged that what he was seeing could have been the DeSitter effect……..it was.

      • blue peacock says:

        “Billions have been wasted on this goose chase.”

        Not as much as the trillion on the covid pandemic with “vaccines” that don’t immunize and the lockdowns with hundreds of billions in collateral damage all done in the name of The Science.

      • English Outsider says:

        Walrus – the attribution of the original idea to a priest reminds me of Küng’s facile observation I read a while back in his preface to one of his works. Seemingly oblivious to myth having its own function and its own validity he was seeking confirmation of Genesis in the Big Bang theory. Looked to be about as asinine an observation as could be made.

        • walrus says:

          “ In 1921, a young Belgian mathematics postdoc and seminarian by the name of Georges Henri Lemaître
          wrote an essay entitled God’s First Three Declarations The author stated that this 1921 essay was “an attempt to describe scientifically the first verses of Genesis.” This biblically-inspired essay, discovered in the archives
          of the Catholic University of Leuven in the late 20 century, is the actual root of the Big-Bang theory. Lemaître (July 1894 – June 1966) was ordained as a Catholic priest in 1923.”

          * Footnotes: “Les trois premières paroles de Dieu.”

          The manuscript is reproduced in Stoffel (1996), pp. 107–111.
 Lemaître’s religious views are discussed in Lambert (1997).

          Source: Helge Kragh, Matter and Spirit in the Universe (Imperial College Press, London, 2004), p. 141.

          Le Maurer met hubble in 1925.

          In 1926, the year following his special trip to Mt. Wilson, Georges Lemaître submitted a paper to Annales de la Société scientifique de Bruxelles that was published in 1927 in Belgium (in French), so it had a limited audience: “A Homogeneous Universe of Constant Mass and Increasing Radius
          accounting for the Radial Velocity of Extra-galactic Nebulæ.”
          Lemaître’s visit to Mt. Wilson was motivated by his nascent cosmological theory and, three years after this initial meeting in California, Edwin Hubble and Lemaître both attended the 1928 IAU (International Astronomical Union) conference in Holland, giving Hubble an additional opportunity
          2 It is unlikely that Lemaître did not discuss the details of his fantastical expanding-universe theory with Hubble when they met on both occasions (1925 and 1928).
          to meet with Lemaître.
          3 Lemaître’s paper provided a cosmic expansion- , whose inverse implied a ‘Hubble time’ (i.e., the age of the modeled expanding universe) of about 1.6 Gyr, this at a point in history when geologists were Referencing a 1926 ApJ paper by Hubble,
          velocity estimate of 625 km s−1 Mpc−1
          rapidly coming to the conclusion that the planet Earth had existed for at least 2–3 Gyr.“

          • Leith says:

            Walrus –

            I understood that the Big Bang model was universally accepted? But I’m more interested in when the so-called Big Rip or Big Crunch comes. Any speculation?

            Also I thought it was ~14 Gyrs for the universe and 4.5 for our planet. So you lost me on your item #3 with 1.6 for the universe and 2 to 3 for planet earth. Did LeMaitre put the cart before the horse like my Grandma used to say? Or am I missing something?

          • The irony is that Hubble actually discovered Einstein’s original cosmological constant. The effect that was proposed to keep gravity from collapsing space to a point.
            Basically the measure of space between galaxies expands, in inverse proportion to the rate it collapses/curves into galaxies.
            It’s been long known this creates an over-all flat space. I first encountered it reading Hawking’s, A Brief History of Time, 32 years ago. It’s just that for some reason, they can’t let go of the idea the entire universe expands, so Inflation has been invoked to argue it only appears flat on local scales, like the surface of the earth appears flat locally.
            It seems an institutional dynamic, where the younger cohort can only advance by complimenting the work of the previous, then repeated again and again.
            Theoretical physics has obviously run up against this wall, with string theory and super symmetry and the Webb will do to the BBT, what CERN did to them. The only question is how the establishment will try to evade the issue.

      • It would be excusable if the flaws were subtle, but they are not.
        When it was first realized that redshift increases proportional to distance in all directions, it meant that either we are at the exact center of the universe, or redshift is an optical effect. Given there was no evidence the light was being interfered with, aka, “tired light,” then the premise of spacetime was invoked to argue that space itself must be expanding. Entirely ignoring the fact that relativistically, if space expanded, the speed of light would have to increase, in order to remain CONSTANT!
        Consequently two metrics of space are being derived from the same intergalactic light. One based on the speed and one based in the spectrum. Given the speed is still being treated as the denominator, or it would be a “tired light” theory, it’s total nonsense. Remember when they talk about the universe expanding, they still describe it in terms of lightyears. So that would make it increasing distance, not “expanding space.”
        When you read the literature, it’s like light is some wavy line stuck on the surface of space and as this space expands, the line gets stretched out and less wavy.
        Keep in mind how waves are generated, as a function of the energy traveling, usually though a medium, but while there is no aether, it’s only observed as a wave by interacting with the measuring device.
        Having been making this point on various online discussions over the decades, there are a few stock rebuttals. One; Go read the textbooks. I have. Two; Light is measured locally, while space expands globally. To which I point out, space has to expand locally, in order to expand globally. Three; You don’t understand the math. I understand basic math enough to know it doesn’t add up. Four; Various name calling. Five; Being ignored/banned.

        • Christian J. Chuba says:

          I am 100% certain you understand the math better than I do. I lost some interest in this subject when I read about the calculations for dark matter. That looked like faery dust to make theories of galaxy formation to work. How much dark matter is there? Hmm … let’s see how much we need to match the rotations we observe in the time frame we need for that galaxy, voila, we have the answer. The only non-circular evidence for dark matter is gravitational lensing. That is convincing but if 95% of the universe is dark matter then gravitational lensing should be the rule, not some occasional find. So now I read that dark matter has been sub-classed into dark matter and ‘dark energy’, no doubt to solve some other observational problem (perhaps the lack of gravitational lensing?) Just took too much time to keep up with something that I felt had circular reasoning. Do I have a better explanation? No, but that doesn’t mean I have to accept someone else’s.
          Yes, the galaxies, they are a moving. I am not denying that. Don’t get me wrong. I am all for more data collection and I am fine with spending money on it.

          I’ll even start reading articles again, I just hope we don’t keep discovering more mysterious ‘matters’ just to make these current models of galaxy formation to work.

          • The problem isn’t so much understanding the math, as understanding what math is. Which is patterns. Numbers, geometry, algebra, statistics, trigonometry, etc. are patterns found running through nature.
            For some reason there has developed a religious belief these patterns exist platonically and are the basis for reality, rather than emergent from the processes generating reality.
            Consider two of the more basic shapes, spheres and cubes. We naturally think of them as basic shapes, but what is more basic? Look out across space and how many cubes are there floating out there, relative to the number of spherical objects?
            Obviously there are a lot more spheres, because it is the basic shape formed by the interaction of expanding, versus coalescing forces. The most efficient container of volume.
            While we are quite familiar with cubes, because they stack efficiently, as building blocks, on the surface of this planet, but really don’t come into existence naturally very often.
            There are no patterns in the void and they only come to be, by the dynamics producing them.
            Math is description. Physics is explanation. It comes before math, not after.

      • Cieran says:

        Referring to Lemaître as a priest looking to find motivation for the book of Genesis is tantamount to referring to Einstein as a mere patent clerk. Neither characterization is relevant to cosmology because each obscures rather than illuminates the incredible contributions made by these men to modern physics.

        And Lemaître is one of the rare physicists whose work would cause Einstein to change his position on the origins of the universe. Einstein disagreed initially with Lemaître, but eventually came to accept those theories as correct.

        Of course, the value of any scientific theory lies in whether it is predictive or not, that is, whether the predictions of the theory can be validated by real-world observations. And Lemaître’s theories have been long been proven to be predictive.

        Lemaître’s theories that predict the Big Bang were independently validated by observations from Penzias and Wilson, who were not doing astrophysics, but instead practicing microwave engineering trying to reduce antenna noise. Their completely (and likely accidental) independent validation evidence effectively ended the debate between Big Bang and Steady State theories of cosmology in favor of the former.

        Penzias and Wilson earned the Nobel Prize in physics for their discovery of the Cosmic Microwave Background, which is essentially the electromagnetic radiation from the Big Bang, red-shifted by expansion down into the microwave spectrum.

        The Big Bang is thus one of those rare cosmological events that we can “see” even today, albeit with that “seeing” via radio astronomy instead of in the visible light portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. We know that there was a Big Bang, because we can detect its remains across the sky even today.

        Lemaître was much more than a priest, and his work is much more than a postulate: it is a fundamental principle of physics.

        • walrus says:

          Penzias and Wilson may have found the CMB but they did not make the attribution, that was Peebles et al.

          There is at least one suggestion that this attribution may be wrong.


          However, I am not an expert, but if it is wrong and Mayer is right about DeSitters error and Minkowski’s assertion that time is a local phenomenon, then that kills the Big Bang and opens up the possibility of some fascinating new physics including at the atomic level. Maybe FTL travel, antigravity, etc.

  8. Babeltuap says:

    I still remember in the early 80’s in grade school discussing that scientists did not know if the universe was expanding. They thought it was but were not sure. Now we are getting close to understanding the true age of the universe and the true rate of expansion. And not long ago we found gravity waves.

    They are saying 6 months or longer though before it can start retrieving data. Something about it has to cool down which takes a while in space.

  9. TTG says:

    JWST isn’t the only mission suffering from a lack of publicity. There have been 6 observatory missions to the L2 point. Most I haven’t heard about or just vaguely remember.

    – NASA WMAP microwave observatory. Launched in 2001. Deactivated in 2010.
    – NASA Wind mapping solar winds. Launched in 2003. Currently at L1.
    – ESA Herschel infrared observatory (similar to Webb). Launched in 2009. Deactivated in 2013.
    – ESA Gaia observatory to complete mission next year mapping the Milky Way. Launched in 2013.
    – The German-Russian Specter-RU xray observatory. Launched in 2019.

  10. sbin says:

    The observatory is unfolding correctly so far.
    Wanted to say flawlessly but do not want to jinx one of humanities greatests scientific instruments.

  11. blue peacock says:

    The sunshield has been fully deployed.

    This video of a broadcast by NASA on the sunshield deployment is extremely instructive for those of us super interested in the step-by-step deployment of Webb.


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