Who am I? Where is here? When is now?


Often when I look at the stars when I\'m in bed at night I shudder to think of my insignificance in the immensity of the Universe.

The distances in the Universe are inconceivably huge, so we measure them in light-minutes or light years. A light minute is the distance light travels in one minute, and that\'s a long way, because light travels through space at 300,000 km a second. So in a minute it would travel 18,000,000 km.
The distance of the Sun from the earth is about eight light-minutes__which means that the light falling on us has travelled eight minutes through space before it reaches us. When we look at the Sun it is actually what it was like eight minutes before. Same is the case with other planets, e.g. if Mars is ‘x\' light-hours away from us, and someone goes on Mars and looks at the earth with a powerful telescope he would see the earth as it looked x hours before. If we could reach Mars in x hours, may be, we, on Mars looking at the earth, would watch our rocket taking off!
It\'s really hard to believe that the nearest star we see on a starry night is 50,000 light years away from the earth. Actually, the star may not be there at that instant, but it surely was some 50,000 years ago! Thus we can never know what the Universe looks like right now, we only know how it looked like then.
Assuming that man was able to devise a space-craft which could travel with the speed of light, and could land at a station in space, like Mars, or even the moon, that would work as a time machine using the principle described above. Watching the situation on the earth at whichever point in history would be possible, we could even investigate murders, look at the lifestyle of the early man, we could even see who was responsible for the attacks on World Trade Centre, for instance!! But the problem is that if we have to go 3 hours back in time, we would land on Mars, and if we want to go 6 hours back in time, we would land on Pluto. Provided we have powerful telescopes enough to give a good view of the earth from a place as far as 2 light-years! Which is quite impossible. That is why the idea of a time machine remains a fantastical theory, and is quite likely to remain so. Something of this sort would require scientific devices of extreme power… accomplishing which is quite far away yet. One is reminded of the verse from the Quran which sys: ‘And you cannot go beyond the limits of the earth and the skies except with great strength.\'

It is also fascinating that the concepts of time and place are exclusive to us on earth, and do not hold as such once we cross the limits of the earth and its vicinity. When the Prophet (SAW) travelled the (Mi\'raj /Al Isra), he found time to be at the same point when he left the earth. That was because, having broken away from the limits of the earth, he (SAW) overcame its time dimensions. Today, science proves that ‘time\' in space progresses at a much slower pace that it does on earth. Someone travelling far into deep space (not merely as far as the nearby moon), at the speed of light, and coming back would not have ‘spent\' any time at all, in the terminology of the earth-dwellers!

Scientists believe that about 15 billion years ago, all substance in the Universe were concentrated in a comparatively small area. Together it gave a very very large mass and density. Thus gravity made it terrifically hot, enough to make it explode with a massive velocity. This explosion made everything in the universe expel in different directions. As it gradually cooled, it formed stars and galaxies moons and planets. The Universe is of indeterminable size for it is expanding at a colossal speed. Scientists believe that after a long time, when the distances will be so much so as to weaken the forces between the bodies on space, an implosion would take place, which means that all substance would assemble and