Nicholas of Cusa on the world

1. This artistic illustration is of a binary black hole found in the centre of the nearest quasar to Earth, Markarian 231, 600 million light-years away. The central black hole is estimated to be 150 million times the mass of our sun and the companion weighs in at 4 million solar masses.

1. This artistic illustration is of a binary black hole found in the centre of the nearest quasar to Earth, Markarian 231, 600 million light-years away. The central black hole is estimated to be 150 million times the mass of our sun and the companion weighs in at 4 million solar masses.

‘Who would not admire this Artisan, who with regard to the spheres, the stars, and the regions of the stars used such skill that there is – though without complete precision – both a harmony of all things and a diversity of all things? (This Artisan) considered in advance the sizes, the placing, and the motion of the stars in the one world; and He ordained the distances of the stars in such way that unless each region were as it is, it could neither exist nor exist in such a place and with such an order – nor could the universe exist. Moreover, He bestowed on all stars a differing brightness, influence, shape, colour, and heat. (Heat causally accompanies the brightness.) And He established the interrelationship of parts so proportionally that in each thing the motion of the parts is oriented toward the whole. With heavy things (the motion is) downward toward the centre, and with light things it is upward from the centre and around the centre (e.g., we perceive the motion of the stars as circular).

With regard to these objects, which are so worthy of admiration, so varied, and so different, we recognise – through learned ignorance and in accordance with the preceding points – that we cannot know the rationale for any of God’s works but can only marvel; for the Lord is great, whose greatness is without end.’

Nicholas of Cusa, De docta ignorantia (On Learned Ignorance), 1440, II.13, in Nicholas of Cusa on Learned Ignorance, Jasper Hopkins, The Arthur J. Banning Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1990, (online) 100

2. A massive black hole hidden at the centre of nearby galaxy Centaurus A, feeds on a smaller galaxy in a spectacular collision.

2. A massive black hole hidden at the centre of nearby galaxy Centaurus A, feeds on a smaller galaxy in a spectacular collision.

3. Large Hubble survey confirms link between mergers and supermassive black holes with relativistic jets

3. Large Hubble survey confirms link between mergers and supermassive black holes with relativistic jets

4. A ‘rose’ made of galaxies. Interacting galaxies Arp 273

4. A ‘rose’ made of galaxies. Interacting galaxies Arp 273

5. Spiral Galaxy M96 from Hubble

5. Spiral Galaxy M96 from Hubble

6. Hubble observes merging galaxies’ evolution in slow motion - NGC 3921

6. Hubble observes merging galaxies’ evolution in slow motion – NGC 3921

red-star

Images: 1./2./3./4./5./6.

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