I am a child of the space race; the progeny of unprecedented technological and scientific discovery. Mine was the generation who gazed at the nightime sky in hopes of spotting orbiting space capsules; who looked to science to explain life’s mysteries.
I remember watching the opening of the original War of The Worlds movie, your remember, where Sir Cedric Hardwicke describes the other planets and why the Martians chose to invade Earth. Of Pluto he says the Martians couldn’t go there because the atmosphere was frozen. They couldn’t go to Uranus or Neptune because their atmosphere was full of methane gas and ammonia vapours. Saturn was a no-go because it was too cold and Jupiter had to be ruled out because it was too hot. Venus had no water or air and Mercury’s temperature was as hot as a volcano.
Back then you just accepted these statements because you knew THEY knew these things to be true. Who were THEY? Well scientists of course. Everyone knew that somewhere in the bowels of some university lurked a “think tank”, a “panel of experts”, a swarm of scientists, a passel of pocket protected professors or at least a bespeckled guy with a slide rule who could be counted on to explain things in “laymen’s terms”.
Still though, I wondered how they knew the temperature of Jupiter or that there was methane gas on Neptune. If you’ve never been there, how do you know?
I was watching a program called The Ghost Particle on Nova the other night and they were talking about neutrinos. I know, it sounds like a fancy Italian pastry but neutrinos are invisible sub-atomic particles. Unlike other particles you may have heard of, they carry no electric charge so they cannot be detected by traditional means.
The program showed how this guy, John Bahcall, sat down and mathematically worked out how the sun works. Think about it. He sits down and figures out an equation that explains the fusion reactions inside the sun. How do you do that?
A big source of these neutrinos is the sun so this other guy, Ray Davis, goes down into an old gold mine somewhere in South Dakota and builds this experiement to try and trap these invisible particles. Where do you even start? I would think it’s easier to trap farts in a bubble wouldn’t you?
A couple of years ago I saw another Nova program called The Elegant Universe. I watched this show because they mentioned Einstein in the advertisements. When I was twelve I had three heroes, Louis Pasteur, Madame Curie and Albert Einstein. I thought the program was about Einstein, so I watched. What it actually was about was a physics theory called string theory.
Now string theory goes way beyond the neutrino. Basically, string theory says that at the highest microscopic level, everything is made up of groups of vibrating strings and this explains the nature of all matter. If this theory holds water, it is quite possible that matter or energy can exist on up to ten spatial dimensions. We live in a three-dimentional spatial world but what if there were seven additional dimesions existing right alongside of us? Is that mind blowing or what?
If that doesn’t blow your mind think about this:
The first law of thermodynamics states that energy can be changed from one form to another, but it cannot be created or destroyed. Within each of us is a series of electro-chemical reactions, a life force, if you will, which powers the body. Perhaps this force can one day be measured much like the mathematical efforting of the fusion reactions which power the sun. Anyhow, if this energy cannot be created or destroyed, where does it go when we die? Could it be that this energy simply moves from one spatial dimension to another? What if heaven was simply another spatial dimension a breath away from our own? Think about this and the impact these theories may have on what many hold as their religious or spiritual beliefs.
I’ve always thought that scientic theories and religious or spiritual concepts went together as well as oil and vinegar. Perhaps we are entering a time in history where science can begin to explain the spiritual answers we have had since we first crawled out of African caves, and were hunting-gathering for a good salad.
I’m not a scientist. The only theory I know and can swear by is the one stating that the severity of an itch is directly proportional to its reach. But I do like to think about these things and wonder how it all fits together. I’m curious about the things THEY know. Aren’t you?