Dark Matter, Does it?

“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:

Comet Love


What’s it like to land on a comet with its flaming tail at the speed of night? The fantastical imaginary of the ordinary citizen can only know a breath of it. If only such a landed probe could take pictures of all of the people looking up in awe and wonderment at its passing. That would be the ideal outcome, to capture the best of the human spirit as it is not in the human capacity to reach beyond our galaxy as we sit on the earth now, but it is in our capacity to dream and imagine and reach with our minds.

Perhaps that is what space travel will be eventually, a cosmic astral projection of minds to other minds in distant galaxies and that the stuff of television shows and NASA or other space agency attempts are mere clumsy limitations of the mind. The physical transport is an outdated mis-read of where humans should be directing their efforts–not at transporting the body to other galaxies with improved technology for craft life but transporting the mind through developed improvements in using more of the human brain, much more than the ten percent we do. If scientists can figure out the workings of the brain and how to use more of it, we would go farther in all of our feeble attempts, due to lack of imagination and physical ability, to space travel the verses–uni or multi. That’s my dark matter hope. As grand as our meager steps are in proportion to who we are, I can only speculate that more brain is better for bigger steps toward human survival–if that is even worth it. My limited brain cannot imagine what could be more important.

Philae successfully landed on Comet 67P. The scientists in news-flash photos, mostly men, and I seem to be the only ones excited about that. Though the landing did not go entirely to plan, that didn’t dent the jubilation of the paunchy breath-holding middle aged scientists who hopped, jumped and hugged in high-five glee and release at its touchdown. The love and pride for their cyber child was bounded only by the liquid vision of the for-once unshielded tears of these utilitarian fathers of the brave foundling. One of her thrusters did not thrust, but she is safe and is useful nevertheless. If she does what she is programmed to do, take pictures and collect other data, she will bless her human makers with information unknown about the travels of a lone comet that circles the sun of its destruction, succumbing to the irresistible force of suicide, desire and heat.

So long as there is an infinite unknown, I anthropomorphically will it to be so: that she brings back an ancient love story beyond comprehension for its pre-dating and surpassing human imagination. That way we can continue to wonder and strive, which is the best humans have to offer.

She will give us imagery to parse and dream about, analyze the pre-solar system traces so that we may sniff the scent of our own origins–even just a hint. The human mind will take it from there. And if those paunchy old and young science-saddled men and women get nothing more than a glimpse into the relationship of a comet with a blustery sun that blasts and winds like the litany of a curmudgeon whose cranky rant on a rainy arthritic day thunders and grates, then humans will be that much more edified. They only need new clues to edge ever nearer to the ever elusive answers to the age old questions that echo in the ignorant blackness of the deep-of-darkness matter: How did we come to be? Are we alone? Why does that even matter?