Science, Art, Beauty, the Meaning of Life, and the James Webb Telescope

John Mather
Proceedings of Bridges 2012: Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Culture (2012)
Pages 1–8 Regular papers


As an astronomer I ponder the mysteries of the universe, and I think about how to understand them a little better. Astronomers have measured the Big Bang and we have an idea of how the primordial material could leave to life here on Earth—but is the idea right? We have powerful telescopes reaching far out in space and far back in time, and looking inside clouds of dust and gas where stars and planets are forming right now. The James Webb Space Telescope is the most ambitious space telescope ever built, and progress is excellent toward a planned launch in 2018.