Those times, you know, when your fingertips and feet know just how to move, threading chores through keyholes, they make me feel like something’s right in this vibratory volume I call the verse, multi or uni, your choice.
Science (whoever that may be) says there aren’t billions but trillions of galaxies. Like, “Oh gee, my mistake. I was off by a few numbers.” How do they know? What kind of telescope discovered those extra billions or so? Or is it just math again. They figured…
I figure it’s all speculation. One thing that’s not, there’s life elsewhere. I’ve no doubt. Too many space holes to hide out in, gazillions of light years away. If a sound wave from this planet reached another life form, perhaps our planet would have already vanished into dust, burnt to the core, scrapped and disbanded in katrillions of dust particles.
That’s one presidential hopeful’s solution to global warming. Let’s just wait it out for a few billion years until the sun burns us up and see what to do then. We’re all going to die some day. Okay.
But tonight, here in my small corner of the planet, I moved through my work tasks like memory, so familiar and easy to summon up. Everything I touched folded or unwound itself by my expert manipulation, my keen dexterity. I folded, washed, wiped and capped like a pro, just like I had done it thousands of times before.
I have the most difficult time imagining let alone explaining the Big Bang. There is this thing to which there is no outside but contains everything–all space, time, motion, light, life, stars, planets, galaxies, moons, atmosphere, gravity and imagination. I can only envision a balloon expanding that captures a portion of its essence, its configuration. But balloons are plenums of sorts.
an assembly of all the members of a group or committee.
a space completely filled with matter, or the whole of space so regarded.
I refer to the second definition when I think of the universe’s (or multiverse’s) origins. But no one knows whether the universe is a plenum. Our minds can only understand to the reaches of our imaginations.
One day, over 17 years ago, I lay with my then 2 and 1/2 year old first born curled in fetal sleep. To this day, I can recall so crisply the angst I felt with another life brewing inside me. “How could I possibly love another child when my heart is so full with this one here?” I thought in a painfully probably hormone-induced teary-eyed moment.
Though quite illogical, the angst grew during my second pregnancy. Today, as that second born turns 17, I reflect on the framework of her arrival–as a storied gift to her sister and an ill-conceived mathematical challenge to my miscalculated quantity of allotted love.
Like the Big Bang theory, the mystery of beginnings, dimensions and edges to inside and outside belong to love–which is definitely not a plenum.
“If the multiverse idea is correct, then the historic mission of physics to explain all the properties of our universe in terms of fundamental principles–to explain why the properties of our universe must necessarily be what they are–is futile, a beautiful philosophical dream that simply isn’t true. Our universe is what it is because we are here. ”
Alan Lightman, “The Accidental Universe”
Astronomy week, when the class and I read two essays, one about the relationships of the sun, moon and Earth–and one human to another, and one about the aim of science to figure out who we are, why we came to be, is an exciting week for me.
I wax on about the mysteries of the universe, the idea of the multiverse, Big Bang, Intelligent Design, Newton and the Theory of Gravity, Darwin and the Theory of Evolution, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, ten or more dimensions of space, quantum theory, quarks, string theory, Inflation theory, dark energy and matter, the complete absence of a theory on how the human brain creates consciousness, and the overall pursuit of a fully coherent cosmos that adds up to us–what scientists had hoped to achieve through speculation, calculation and logic, beginning with observing natural laws, up til recent history when the Hubble deep field experiment revealed the probability of a multiverse.
The project to discover the cause and effect chain to everything had to be abandoned with thrown up arms, seemingly also abandoning the aims of the preceding thousands of years’ work. Alan Lightman writes about this interrupter known as the multiverse in “The Accidental Universe.” And when I ask students, who look at me as if I am on a 70’s psychedelic trip, what this all has to do with them, their reality right now, no one can answer–not even the ones who desperately want to answer something, anything.
Like history, the cosmos is just too far away. They cannot feel it, not even as a dream they may have had and can recall in that hazy sense of remembering a distorted reality deeply imprinted in another realm of consciousness.
“Not only must we accept that basic properties of our universe are accidental and uncalculable. In addition, we must believe in the existence of many other universes. But we have no conceivable way of observing these other universes and cannot prove their existence. Thus, to explain what we see in the world and in our mental deductions, we must believe in what we cannot prove.” Lightman
And so students interpret that faith in the unknown not as the spurs to discover what is out there but as the sigh of futility. It has so little to do with their immediate aims–surviving school, work and social media.
But it is human arrogance to require relevance to the human condition. Or that the multiverse is created in our own image, running round ourselves like the orbiting moon to Earth, Earth to the sun.
“The disposition of the universe–that crazy wheelwright–designates that we live on a wheel, with wheels for associates and wheels for luminaries, with days like wheels and years like wheels and shadows that wheel around us night and day; as if by turning and turning, things could come round right.” Amy Leach, “You Be the Moon”
I miss the eloquence, enthusiasm, sincerity and passion of this scientist to make the real imaginable and the imaginable real: