Space exploration betters humanity

April 10 brought humanity a new landmark in the realm of extraplanetary science — the Event Horizon Telescope, through a series of complex algorithms, eight satellites and a perfect combination of metaphysical rarities, took a picture of a black hole at the center of galaxy Messier 87.

The nature of a black hole’s existence and functioning make clear why this photograph is revolutionary. The Event Horizon team managed to capture a point in space of such unfathomable density that the immense gravitational pull allows no light to escape, making the likelihood of capturing an adequate photograph slim.

This, along with other noteworthy examples of recent achievements in astronomical science — the discovery of ice on the surface of Pluto, the discovery of the Higgs Boson particle and the discovery of exoplanet Kepler-452b, to name a few — give us a glimpse into what the universe holds and proves how essential it is we continue to explore it.

The Event Horizon team and its photograph of the M87 black hole provide a picture of what the future of science can be; the team was comprised of over 200 researchers from 17 countries, all coming together with the shared goal of understanding more about our universe. Ironically, where we share the most metaphorical common ground is where we share no common ground — in outer space— where there are more questions than answers and where we have only begun to understand the way our universe works.

What can’t be overstated at this time is the importance of students studying the sciences who will go on to build the future of scientific research and discoveries. As technology advances and expands the limits of our research capabilities, young minds will propel these advancements into the future and bring answers to the questions we once believed to be unanswerable.

2018 was the third consecutive year that granted an NIU physics student the prestigious Department of Energy of Science Award, as doctorate candidate Tyler Burch joined graduate students Daniel Boyden and Blake Burghgrave to the list of NIU recipients.

The Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scotland’s National Academy, named NIU physics professor Swapan Chattopadhyay as one of its fellows March 1, an honor granted to those who have “attained high international standing in any subject within the Society’s disciplinary domains and are not normally resident in the U.K.,” according to the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s website.

NIU is fertile ground for the next generation of scientists, and there’s no better time to thank them for their commitment to the improvement of humanity than in the light of photons released from the first photographed black hole.

The Northern Star Editorial Board wishes all future scientists, NIU graduates or not, safe travels and happy searching.