Ever since I was a little boy I’ve loved to look up at the sky on a clear night and lose myself in the wonder of the fact that the light from every single star has taken years and years to reach the Earth. How incredible that the tiny spots of light landing on the backs of my eyes left those stars millions of years ago!
Its astonishing to think that as you look up at the night sky you are looking at the past, the distant past. And how astonishing to realise now that our latest astronomical instruments let us see back billions of years, almost to the Big Bang itself. But not quite.
I recently came across the phrase “Cosmic Horizon”. The Cosmic Horizon is the furthest visible point in the Universe. In every direction as we scan the skies, we can detect signals from far away stars right up to a point of darkness which is so far away, so far distant in the past, that we can’t see anything any longer. This is the horizon. It’s like the horizon we see where the sky meets the earth or the sea, but much, much further away.
In the book, “The View from The Centre of The Universe”, Joel Primak and Nancy Abrams, building on this idea that the Cosmic Horizon is a limit in the timescale we can know, propose that we, the human race, need to develop our “Responsibility Horizon”.
This is a fascinating idea. Think about it. How far does you current “Responsibility Horizon” extend? One generation, maybe two? When you make decisions, do you consider the impact of those decisions on the lives of your children, or your grandchildren? You might. If you have children or grandchildren you might be concerned about the kind of world we are creating now for them to inhabit in the years ahead. But let’s stretch that beyond two generations. How far ahead do you want your Resonsibility Horizon to reach? And if it’s three or four, or more, generations, how will that influence the choices you make today?