16 June 2011

A little Cosmic Perspective

(originally posted to Myspace and Yahoo360, 4 January 2009)

Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea. – Douglas Adams

The universe is currently ~13,800,000,000 (13.8 x 109 or 13.8 billion) years old this cycle. I say this cycle because for there to have been a Big Bang where all the matter in the universe compacted into a quantum singularity to the point where the most massive fusion reaction in its history occurred, there had to be matter, and that matter would have had to come from somewhere for the Big Crunch which led to the Big Bang, the only possible source being the previous universe.

The next Big Crunch is scheduled for about 60,000,000,000,000 (60.0 x 1012 or 60 trillion) years from now, in case you're wondering and need to plan your schedule. 

Of course, this planetary system’s star, Sol, will enter a red giant phase in ~5,000,000,000 (5 billion or 5 x 109) years and swell out beyond Earth’s current orbit, either completely incinerating and swallowing it whole or pushing it further out as a waterless, airless hunk of rock. That’s if the Solar System survives the collision of the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies scheduled for about ~2 billion years from now.

Or if the unusually quiet super-massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way (quiet compared to those of other galaxies) known as Sagittarius A doesn’t suddenly become active and suck all the matter in its galaxy into itself. So the next Big Crunch is the least of your worries.

According to some astrophysicists (Neil Cornish, et al.), in spite of being only 13.8 billion years old, this universe, the whole universe, is currently, somehow, ~78,000,000,000 (78 x 109 or 78 billion) light-years across (based on a principle of astrophysics known as the Hubble constant), a “low bound” or conservative estimate of the size of the whole universe (the diameter of the observable universe is 46 billion light years). Scientists in the fields of physical cosmology, astronomy, and celestial mechanics use the hypothesis of dark energy to explain what causes this seeming contradiction; the Hubble constant is the formula used to calculate its result.

Quantum physicists shall likely be revising their opinions on the existence of the tachyon, which they rejected solely because according to Einstein's theory of relativity nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.  Especially since physicists have now sent particles faster than the speed of light, or were reported to have done before the guardians of the sacred memory of Einstein (also known as the soulless minions of orthodoxy) got a hold of the reports.  Einstein himself would be appalled by his would be defenders.

While I've no doubt both statements are true, they do call forth something rather interesting statistics when considering the various religions of the human race inhabiting large swaths of the planet's surface, all of which, without variation, are anthropofocal in nature and based in a geocentric cosmos.

The Universe is 741,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (7.41 x 1023 or 741 sextillion) km in diameter. The circumference of its central plane is2.32 x 1024 or 2.32 septillion km. The area of its central plane is 4.31 x 1047 or 431 quattuordecillion km2. The volume of the Universe is 2.13 x 1071 or 213 duovigintillion km3.

{Those figures are the low bound for the whole universe; according to Guth’s theory of cosmic inflation, the entire physical universe could be 1023to 1026 times larger, which translates into approximately 7.8 undecillion (7.8 x 1036, or 7.8 with 36 zeroes) km in diameter and  2.13 x 1097 (21.3 untrigintillion, or 213 with 95 zeroes) km3 in volume.}

And that's just our Universe (“the Cosmos”), in the Multiverse (all the parallel universes connected to our own, the whole of causally-connected spacetime). 

Don’t get me started on cosmic time (the concept of time being nonlinear and multidimensional, or "the future has already happened and the past is yet to be, and the moment where we are now is the beginning and the end and every moment in between") or on the concept of eternal return (“all that is happening now has happened before, and it will all happen again and again and again”).

By contrast, the volume of Earth (or Terra, to be consistent with the names of the other planets of the system) is roughly a mere 1,120,000,000,000 (1.12 x 1012 or 1.12 trillion) km3. That's right, smaller relatively speaking than a quark to itself. It is also a comparative baby at just over 4,540,000,000 (4.54 x 109 or 4.54 billion) years old.

And Terra is but one of an estimated 40 billion 
Class-M planets (i.e. Terra-like planets capable of supporting human and other life, including non-human sentients) in the Milky Way galaxy of 200 billion stars alone, which is itself but one of the estimated 500 billion galaxies in the Universe.  Which, of course, does not take into consideration life-forms based on foundations other than our own.

This insignificant speck of a cosmic juvenile planet hurtling through space at a rate of 108,000 km/h is the place that all human religions hold where the Divine Plan is being carried out and the sole general focus of the Divine's interest, with the particular focus of the Divine being the barely 200,000 years old Terran sub-species Homo sapiens sapiens and the extinct H. sapiens idaltu, H. sapiens neanderthalensis (died out 30,000 years ago), H. sapiens denisova and other species of Human such as H. naledi, H. habilis, H. erectusH. rudolfensis, H. heidelbergensis, H. floresiensis (which survived until 13,000 ya), not to mention hominids belonging to genera Paranthropus, Australopithecus, Kenyanthropus, Ardipithecus, and Orrorin apparently not meriting the Divine's notice and attention.

Biologically speaking, by the way, race is defined as a subspecies of a larger species, and since H. sapiens sapiens is the only remaining race of the genus Homo, "there is only ONE race, the HUMAN RACE. So say we all." (Edward James Olmos)

Every religious belief system is absurd because not one religion is anything less than completely ignorant of the hard facts above, an ignorance in truth freely accepted because it is only in that kind of myopic, geocentric, anthropofocal narcissism grounded in pre-Copernican cosmology in which those beliefs, and the deity they have created, have any power, and is the only source of their so-called "authority" to speak in its name. In effect, religion creates the deity (or other “higher power”) it claims to serve rather than the other way around. Therefore, as I have noted several times, all religion is blasphemy.

Even the non-religious religion of astrology is not exempt from these faults. It lists only twelve constellations which lie in Sol’s elliptic, and there are thirteen (the “lost” constellation is Ophiuchus, better known to astronomers as Serpentarius).  Also, it hasn't updated the positions of the constellations in the past 2500 years, ignoring the progression of the equinoxes.

Every religion has their own version of the Invisible Man, as comedian George Carlin refers to It, and every single one calls It by a different name. Some ethnic and or national divisions go so far as to claim that the Divine speaks only their language and that they are therefore especially blessed. 

Jews claim Yahuweh speaks Hebrew, and that only scriptures written in that language are valid. Muslims, on the other hand, claim Allah speaks Arabic.

American fundamentalist Christians believe wholeheartedly that Almighty God speaks Elizabethan English, while Roman Catholics insist their Dominus Dei speaks Latin, in contrast to the Easter Orthodox who are absolutely certain Kyrios speaks Greek.

Meanwhile, Hindus believe Brahman speaks Sanskrit, Iranians that Khoda speaks Farsi, Zoroastrians that Ahura Mazda speaks Avestan, and Buddhists that the Heavenly Buddha speaks Pali or Sanskrit depending on their respective branch.

Daoists have no doubt that if the Dao were to speak it would do so in Chinese; the Dao, however, is a concept so amorphous that It could never really take form enough to speak, leaving individuals to guess at Its Will, much as the characters of Star Wars refer to The Force, who use and manipulate their "Other" the way the practitioners of human religions attempt and/or would like to do with whatever form of Other they claim to serve.

I hope while reading the above few paragraphs you have kept in the forefront of your mind all the statistics I gave above. If not, go back and do that in order to get a full picture of the absurdity of those beliefs.

Current theoretical quantum physics suggests that there are more than just the four dimensions of space-time we can see and hear on Earth and in this region of the Milky Way (ten by some accounts, eleven by others), and some of its leading thinkers believe the reason we cannot perceive them is that we are in a spatial cul-de-sac which prevents us from doing so.

In Doug Adams' six-volume trilogy Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything is . . . "42". The Question to the Answer is, "What do you get when you multiply 9 by 6?". In our usual (for Earth) base10 mathematics, 9 x 6 = 54, of course; however, in base13mathematics, 9 x 6 = 42, just like in Adams' books. Therefore the question I often ask myself when considering the dimensional cul-de-sac our planet is in: "Are we a base10 planet in a base13 universe?".

An omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent Entity unseen and unheard Who can hear our every voice, read our every thought, see our every action and created all that is, including the Cosmos of which this planet is a mere 66.27 novemdecillionths and its dominant sentient species not even a relative zygote? No such being.

Are there higher-than-human beings than we can perceive with our normal senses, ones who are more powerful, operate on different physical laws, and communicate in ways we can't even imagine? Beings that are superhuman yet not supernatural? I'd be surprised if there weren't some, maybe along the lines of some of those invented for the various TV series of the Star Trek franchise, like the “Prophets” of the Bajoran-Idran wormhole, the Q Continuum, or the Talosians, for example. But none of those beings are gods, and the Human sub-species H. sapiens sapiens and its planet are too primitive and insignificant to be noticed collectively, much less individually.

I think religion should be outlawed for anyone under the age of twenty-one. On the other hand, as noted by Joseph Goebbels and numerous clergy of various persuasions over the centuries, if they get them as kids they'll have them for life; the flipside of that is that if they don't get them as kids, they'll never have them. Which would be a good thing, I think.

Written by Robert Charles “Chuck” Hamilton, III, of the race (subspecies) Homo sapiens sapiens, species Homo sapiens, genus Homo, subtribe Hominina, tribe Hominini, subfamily Homininae, family Homininidae, superfamily Hominoidea, order Primates, subclass Theria, class Mammalia, subphylum Vertebrata, phylum Chordata, subkingdom Eumetazoa, kingdom Animalia, and domain Eukaryota, at 34.999583 (34°59’97”N) x -85.147449 (85°8’83”W), Old Concord, Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Tennessee, United States of America, Laurentian Craton, Planet Terra, Solar System, Local Interstellar Cloud, Local Bubble, Gould Belt, Orion Spur, Milky Way Galaxy, Local Group, Virgo Cluster, Laniakea Supercluster, the Cosmos, during the Age of Pisces in the Anthropocene Chron of the Subtlantic Stage of the Holocene Epoch of the Quartenary Period during the Cenozoic Era of the Phanerozoic Eon of the Current Supereon, in Galactic Year (GY) 20, the Multiverse.  

I am a Terran, a citizen of Earth.  The whole world is my home, and all its people my brothers, sisters, and cousins.

See also: Carl Sagan, A universe not made for us - http://wimp.com/carlsagan/

The vastness of our universe and perspective.


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