Friday, November 03, 2006

Fly by Night


Preparing an F-117 Nighthawk for flight October 27 at Holloman Air Force Base. She was part of a 25-plane formation commemorating the Nighthawk's 25 years in service and 250,000 flight hours. The first operational stealth aircraft has participated in battles from Panama to Iraq. It will soon be retired to make way for newer fighters like the F-22 and F-35. The pilots fly all their missions after dark; by owning the night they control the sky.

Once I was in the cockpit of an aircraft flying from California to Oahu. The Sun was far behind me, and by staying ahead I was able to extend night's passage. Mars appeared over the horizon in front of me, very bright in its opposition. The Red Planet seemed so close that my plane could reach it. I pointed the nose toward Mars and ended up in Hawaii.

If any pleasure approaches that of scientific discovery, it can be found in the cockpit. Looking down on Earth from above puts many problems in perspective. A city at night is ablaze with a million lights. Between those lights are roads, buildings, and people going about their business. Pools of light from streetlamps hint at the mass that lies below. If we understand that darkness, we know the Universe.

When they have nothing better to do, scientists can speculate about multiple universes. There is another universe, occupying the same Space/Time but hidden from our eyes. GM=tc^3 predicts, and observations confirm that the matter we see is just 4.507034% of all mass. We are the lights where most of the Universe is dark to our eyes. To be aware of this vast majority is to be a seeing woman among the blind.

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