Filters Transcript

Filters Transcript

Audio Script – Filters

Astronomical objects like stars and galaxies emit light with many different colors or wavelengths. Only a fraction of that light can be seen by the human eye. High-energy light, like x-rays, gamma rays, and ultraviolet light has wavelengths that are too short for our eyes to see. Infrared light, microwaves, and radio waves all have wavelengths that are too long.

Different physical processes that occur in the heavens are often best studied using light that we cannot see with our eyes. Astronomers select the best wavelengths for specific observations using filters to remove the light that they don’t want to see. Or, they use specialized instruments that block unwanted portions of the sky, or cameras that are only sensitive to wavelengths that are of interest to them.

For example, a high-energy, x-ray image of the Crab Nebula would look much different than what we see with Hubble, which observes using visible light, or with the James Webb Space Telescope, that observes in the infrared. Instead of the wispy walls of gas that compose the expanding shells of material that show up with Hubble and JWST, the image would show two jets of high-energy radiation streaming away from a hot disk of gas surrounding a dense neutron star. Seeing these different components of this one object requires different instruments and different filters.

The James Webb Space Telescope has four instruments, all of which are primarily sensitive to infrared light. Three instruments work in the near-infrared just beyond our ability to see, and one works in the mid-infrared where the light’s wavelengths are ten to twenty times longer than the wavelengths of visible light. Since the human eye cannot see the light that JWST observes, astronomers take the raw observations and convert them to colors that are our eyes can detect.

The environments where JWST makes its most striking observations are cold, dusty, or distant. Places that would otherwise be hidden from our view. Star-forming regions within our galaxy are filled with clouds of dust. When seen in visible light, these clouds appear as dark patches on the otherwise glimmering sky. The clouds are dark because they are colder than the neighboring stars. In the infrared, however, through the filters of the James Webb Space Telescope, the dust shines brightly, contrasting sharply with the backdrop of space as seen in the image of the Face- On Spiral Galaxy.

 Filters on our telescopes temporarily strip away unnecessary light. What remains is a more- pristine image of the objects of our study. We can better measure properties of stellar nurseries, planet-forming disks, and the gas and dust in galaxies across the universe when the right filters are applied. Once in place, we can more clearly see the hidden workings of creation.

In our lives, we have many demands for our attention and our time. School, work, friends, and phones can fill our minds with important information and with cluttering distractions. All the while, more subtle and more weighty matters may remain unseen or unstudied. To see them clearly, we, like the astronomers, must filter out the unnecessary sources that obscure our vision. Sometimes, these distracting sources may fill our senses to the point that they consume our thoughts and drive our actions. It may require significant effort to put them aside in order to hear the whisperings of the spirit.

The prophet Elijah, saddened by the wickedness of his people and fearing for his life, escaped to a high mountain. His mind was troubled as he sought the will of the Lord. A mighty wind swept by, an earthquake shook the ground, and a fire raged. But, the Lord was not in the wind, and the Lord was not in the earthquake, and the Lord was not in the fire. But, after the fire, there was a still small voice, and Elijah heard it, and knew it was of God. After filtering out the raging natural disasters and internal turmoil, Elijah could hear the Lord’s word.

In a similar experience, the Nephites in Bountiful marveled about the destruction their nation had endured upon the crucifixion of the Savior. They too were initially distracted by their circumstances and needed to clear their minds and their hearts of the worries of their time in order to hear the word of the Lord.

“And it came to pass that while they were thus conversing one with another, they heard a voice as if it came out of heaven; and they cast their eyes round about, for they understood not the voice which they heard; and it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn.

“And it came to pass that again they heard the voice, and they understood it not.

“And again the third time they did hear the voice and did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came.

 “And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard;”

As it was with the Nephites and with Elijah, so it is with us. We often need to remove the distractions from our minds to hear the word of the Lord, and to see his hand in our lives. Our homes, our churches, and our temples can serve as a means to filter out the cares of the world so that we may better see the things of God.

The children of God on the Earth, your brothers and sisters, are often searching for meaning, they often seek eternal truths but know not where to find them. As Isaiah prophesied: “It shall even be as when an hungry man dreameth, and, behold, he eateth; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty: or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and, behold, he drinketh; but he awaketh, and, behold, he is faint, and his soul hath appetite: so shall the multitude of all the nations be…”

Christ and his gospel are the living water that quenches this thirst, they are the bread of life that satisfies this hunger, they are the only means by which true peace and joy can be found. To learn of them, we must stand in holy places like Elijah, and filter out the distractions of the world. In doing so, we can learn of God and gain a testimony of his plan for us.

Joseph Smith taught that “The things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! …must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity—thou must commune with God.”