James Webb Telescope: looking into the Deep Cosmos

It has been almost seven months since the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) was successfully launched into space. Now, scientists have published the first images: a glimpse into the still very young universe of 13.5 billion years ago, made possible by the huge, foldable infrared mirror of the mammoth project of space agencies in the USA, Canada and Europe. For Europe's press, this is a reason to pause for a moment in the midst of current crises.

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The Times (GB) /

A triumph of science

The 10 billion dollars invested in the JWST have more than paid off, writes The Times:

“In an age when scientific inquiry has managed to combat the scourge of pestilence by devising vaccines, its achievements ought not to need adumbrating. But this is something else. The radiation from the Big Bang was stretched into microwaves by the expansion of the universe. These are not visible, yet science has detected them. Webb can capture infrared light from when the first stars formed. This triumph of inquiry shows how far science is from being merely 'common sense', and how powerful and beneficial are its methods.”

Tygodnik Powszechny (PL) /

Reorientation by contemplating eternity

Commenting in Tygodnik, philosopher Tomasz Stawiński says the significance of the photos goes beyond science:

“I think that every session of all parliaments in the world should begin with the viewing of these fascinating images. ... Before making any serious decision, politicians, military leaders, billionaires, clergymen, managers of large corporations - all those who have any influence on the shaping of our earthly reality - should sit down and have a look at them. As is well known, looking at the world sub specie aeternitatis - from the perspective of eternity - offers the chance for a profound inner reorientation. Without doubt we would all - in the midst of all the political, economic and identity antagonisms and wars - benefit from this today.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Do not be paralysed by awe

The images should serve as an incentive for humanity, writes the Süddeutsche Zeitung:

“By looking back to the beginnings of natural history, our earthly lifetime shrinks to nothingness. ... But fortunately there are still a few reasons not to despair as humans, not to consider everything futile and dwarfish. One is that it is humans' inventive spirit that makes such insights into the mysteries of matter possible in the first place. ... The second reason not to be paralysed by wonder is that our species depends on physical nature, but also overcomes it. ... This should not just be a consolation but also an incentive to make this Earth of ours a good place for everyone. We will disappear into the starry nebula soon enough.”

Le Monde (FR) /

Fund research even in the crisis

According to Le Monde, the telescope is proof that one should not pinch pennies in the wrong places:

“Scientific work is certainly part of a nation's wealth and its strength has an impact on a country's standing. This should not be forgotten in the next budget negotiations. Because inflation will soon destroy the promised efforts to restore a balance.”