It’s A Great Big Universe

My morning commute consists of a 68 mile drive. If conditions are normal, that drive takes me one hour to complete. In that time I have three options to occupy myself. Option one is NPR. I usually go two to three weeks on option one before I have heard the same news about Iraq, Congress, the lies of the administration, global warming, and China being the next big thing but still squashing freedom and poisoning our food. So at that point I can hopefully move onto Option Two. I say hopefully, because Option two is totally dependent on my mood and the available media.

Option Two consists of audio books. And audio books are hit or miss. Sometimes they are magical and make the story jump out of the iPod. Sometimes they suck and make you want to throttle the author, the speaker, and the steering wheel. And on top of that they last a week.

That leaves option three. Which can be the most entertaining, frightening, and existential of them all….letting the mind wander. Thinking about everything and anything. It always seems to lead me to interesting conversations with myself.

Take today for instance. I started thinking about the universe. Think about it for a second. Think about the UNIVERSE. Now take whatever you are picturing and throw it out, because you are wrong! Thinking about the universe, TRULY thinking about it will make your head explode. Literally. As I was thinking about it in the car this morning, I was giving myself a headache.

Humans are defined by boundaries. We create them (walls and laws), we live with them (mountains, rivers, oceans), we are surrounded by them (the atmosphere, a boundary keeping us safe from the vacuum of space). Now working off of that idea, think about the planet….now think about the solar system… think about our galaxy……now think about our galaxy and OTHER galaxies….now what do you see. I see a box with lots of swirling galaxies in it. I realize that it cannot be a box! A box is a human invention and something with defined boundaries. I picture a sphere. OK, that might work. How big a sphere? Big. Alright now I am getting somewhere. I think about the sheer size of the sphere….and what is outside that sphere. Damnit! I have created a boundary! OK, I can work with this. So what is outside of this sphere? More spheres? With another universe and more galaxies? How many more spheres? Two (nope, another boundary)? Three (negative…boundary)? Infinity?

And there you have it. When you try to conceptualize the universe using our primitive cognitive functions, you basically get Infinity. Think of it as the human version of the BSOD. Our mind cannot truly comprehend the sheer complexity and size of the universe so we default to infinity. We divide by zero. We drop the floating point number. We Blue Screen.

I came to this conclusion, very strange that it is, while driving this morning. The other conclusion I came to….if you spend time (a lot) truly thinking about the universe and trying to ‘wrap your head around it’ you will find God. Which means, that once you find the person who has a handle on the universe, feel free to follow and worship them…..they’re going places!!

  1. #1 by djLicious on August 24, 2007 3:36 pm - 3:36 pm

    It’s not lack of comprehension – it’s lack of imagination.

    And, I’ve found Lisa Randall’s Warped Passages illuminating when thinking about boundaries –

  2. #2 by djLicious on August 24, 2007 5:10 pm - 5:10 pm

    Not lack of comprehension – lack of imagination.

    Also, I’ve found Lisa Randall’s Warped Passages to be illuminating when contemplating boundaries.

  3. #3 by djLicious on August 24, 2007 5:12 pm - 5:12 pm

    Forgot to post the amazon link to Warped Passages

  4. #4 by Jon Angliss on August 24, 2007 10:08 pm - 10:08 pm

    Sounds like somebody vaguely remembered MiB (Men in Black). They were playing marbles with universes 😉

    I go through the same problems of drive time entertainment, hoping between NPR (sad, I never thought I’d listen to a public radio station before), CDs, and random thinkings driven by weird coincidences.

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