From I be to I am

Wed 03/23/16 at 5:11 pm

Below is an excerpt from my (currently suspended) novel-in-progress, The First Voice. The below is based on research I conducted a few years back, and I’ve not made any effort to see how it has withstood the test of time, so please excuse any errors that have been corrected by subsequent advances in Quantum Theory. We find our hero, Elfredge Betisdatter, having dinner at Joe Allen with two new acquaintances, Michael Zadek and Johanna Elder. We drop in at the point Michael undertakes to explain the Big Bang and subsequent expansion of the universe to Elfredge:

“Lucky for you, the nature of quantum physics is particularly suited to explication using the standbys humans rely on before they discover the math — magic, myth, and religion. In a word, metaphor. The famous mathematician Alan Turing used to ask, ‘where is God in 2+2=4?’ For purposes of our current discussion, ‘God’ is what gets lost in the translation from the myth to the scientific proof. For instance, now that we know about gravitation, we no longer believe that Atlas stands on the western edge of the world holding up the sky. Make sense?”

Elfredge stuck out her lower lip and shrugged, “I guess so.”

Michael took a drink of his scotch, “All right, you majored in English. Think of all the vibrating strings that comprised the pre-Big Bang singularity as the infinitive of the verb ‘to be.’ Only back then, ‘to be’ was a regular verb. How would you conjugate that?”

Elfredge dutifully recited, “I be, you be, he/she/it be, we be, you be, they be.”

“That’s it. So now envision all those strings vibrating ‘be be be,’ or more accurately, ‘be-not be, be-not be,’ in perfect harmony.”

Elfredge interjected, “Like the music of the spheres, or the mother of all mantras, Om ah Hum.”

“Exactly. Now let’s say that some 14 billion years ago one of those strings had an epiphany similar to Einstein’s, and it came to the realization that under certain conditions matter and energy could be destroyed. From there, this string was confronted with the possibility of its own nuclear annihilation. Just the idea of this possibility caused the string to mis-bow, metaphorically speaking, and instead of vibrating “be,” it squawked the irregular first-person, ‘I am.’  This discordance caused the singularity’s three visible dimensions to fuse with the fourth, thereby creating spacetime, or what we call real time, which in turn set up the determination we now refer to as the expanding universe.”

Michael sat back in his chair.

“Well,” exclaimed Elfredge, “When you put it that way, even I can understand!”

Just then, Thom reappeared.    “May I take your order?”

“Perfect timing,” said Johanna. “I’ll have the red beans and rice with andouille sausage.”

“Eggs sound good, actually. I’ll have a spinach and cheese omelet. Whole wheat toast. And an orange juice.”

“I’ll have a bacon cheeseburger, medium,” said Michael. “Let’s also have a bottle of Ravenswood Zin.”

Johanna observed, “A dependable choice.”

Michael flashed a smile in her direction and turned back to Elfredge. “Any questions so far?”

“Not really. Keep going.”

Michael continued, “During the first fraction of a second after the big bang, the universe underwent an incredibly rapid inflationary period. As the singularity separated, more and more matter was created from the high-energy radiation, pieces of which, in turn, spun off to form galaxy after galaxy, including the Milky Way. About 4.6 billion years ago, our solar system emerged from a solar nebula that consisted principally of hydrogen, but also of other elements such as carbon and oxygen. In the next few million years, Earth and the other planets formed and began to orbit the Sun.

“A second planet named Theia, also formed and was orbiting the Sun in the same general vicinity of Earth. Theia was smaller than Earth, and as the Earth’s mass increased by the accretion of more and more material, its gravitational pull increased causing Theia’s orbit to destabilize until it finally collided with Earth. The collision sent a large portion of Earth’s crust spewing into space where it formed the Moon. The impact also altered Earth’s axis to produce the 23.5° tilt responsible for Earth’s seasons, which, in turn, created the conditions necessary to sustain life as we know it.”

Elfredge broke in. “I’ve never heard about Theia, but I do know about the 23.5° tilt because one of my friends is passionate about the number 47. He swears it’s the quintessential random number of the universe. He points to the fact that the axial tilt adds up to 47 as an example of its importance. He’s got a lot of other examples, too.”

“He is onto something,” said Michael. “You know that master equation I was talking about earlier?  Let’s just say the number 47 plays a fairly significant role in its formulation. But we digress. Back to the beginning. After the initial period of incredibly rapid inflation, the universe continued to expand. Scientists used to think that at some point the gravitational attraction of matter would eventually cause the universe to stop expanding, effectively reversing the process I’ve just described, and that eventually all matter and energy would compress back into another gravitational singularity. They called this theory The Big Crunch.”

“Now what do they think?” asked Elfredge.

“These days, physicists posit that approximately 73 per cent of our universe is comprised of dark, or phantom, energy and another 23 percent is comprised of cold dark matter. All the visible atoms are contained in the remaining 4%. With the discovery of dark energy, scientists now think it’s more likely the universe will continue to expand at an ever-increasing rate of speed until finally the electromagnetic forces holding molecules and atoms will be overcome and even the atomic nuclei will be torn apart. Scientists call this theory The Big Rip.”

next post: From I Be to I Am, Part 2
previous post: What I Am

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