Thursday, December 29, 2016                                                        Dreadful Joy

Sitting on the Edge of the Galaxy with You


What do we see? The struck posture of stars and stellar gas. It's like we're inside one of those 'time-stands-still' stories. (A favorite is Kingsley Amis' The Green Man, where God visits the protagonist and time stops for all but them.) We can stare at a galaxy our whole lives and see hardly any movement. Yet, our technology reveals that this disk of stars is spinning at 168 miles every second!

Why has time stood still for us?

Li Po, one of China's greatest poets (701 to 762 A.D.), writes, "Sober, we're together and happy. Drunk, we scatter away into our own directions: Intimates forever, we will wander carefree and meet again in Milky Way distances."

Time stands still before our humanity. Our lightning-flash presence collapses the wave function to this one cosmic instant upon which we scrawl our constellations, our mortal destiny.

Sobered by science, we stare out into a universe drunk with expansive energy. Recent measurements reveal two trillion galaxies in our observable universe! Two trillion! Which means that every point in the sky contains a galaxy!

Sitting here in the smallness of our embracing humanity at the galaxy's edge, we might seem overwhelmed by the enormous magnitude of reality. But two recent scientific ideas argue otherwise:

The Holographic Principle's name says it all: the volume of spacetime is a hologram projected from the two-dimensional boundary surface of the universe by cosmic strings vibrating in ten dimensions. (Hello, Alice.) What we perceive as vast from our biological perspective is actually an illusion.

Studying the entropy of black holes, cosmologists surprise us with news that information is more fundamental than matter and energy! If someone on the boundary surface of the universe were to peer into the holographic illusion of galaxies in their trillions and focus not on energy and mass but on complexity of information, each human mind would shine brighter than a quasar!

Each of you, sitting here with me on the edge of the Milky Way, experiences the interstellar tilt of things in your own way. Your uniqueness, the ingenuity of your most subtle feelings (what philosophers call 'qualia'), has a destination. Unlike matter and energy, which can fall into a black hole and disappear, information is never lost. It's inscribed on the boundary surface.

Beyond the sobriety of our empirical minds, among those ten dimensions vibrating reality into existence, we have the imagination, that rarest of phenomena in the universe, to wander carefree in our own directions — and meet again where information is kept forever in Milky Way distances.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there Mr Attanasio, I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your writing. I consider Radix one of my favorite books of all time, and am currently in the middle of Demons Hide Their Faces. Thanks for sharing your work & your thoughts, and I look forward to reading more.

January 4, 2017 at 4:46 PM  
Blogger A. A. Attanasio said...

I thank you, Anonymous Reader, for giving my fiction a place in world and time.

February 20, 2017 at 3:41 PM  

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