Friday, November 26, 2021

universe unrevealed



PBS Nova has finished broadcasting its new 5-episode series titled “Universe Revealed,” which uses superb graphics to convey for a general audience how recent astrophysical strides in revealing the universe through satellite telescopes leave us ultimately facing wondrous mystery. Much of it involves young astrophysicists enthusiastically talking to the camera about recent discoveries—which is really inspiring. It comple-
ments the video animations well.

The last word, literally, of the last episode is by young Grant Tremblay, stationed at the Harvard Center for Astrophysics. I was so intrigued by what he said that I sent him an email today, which I’ll share here.

He noted, “We are going to be but a sentence in the Book of the Universe. And so, I think it’s incumbent upon us to write the best possible sentence that we can. I cannot wait for what is to come.”

I’m adding some [bracketed explanation] and links here for references that he would easily recognize.
Hi, Grant,

As a philosophical writer, I have to admire the old trope of the book—the book of life, the book of the universe. But the ultimate point of being—

Well, I confess: The ending of every episode of the Nova series frightened me. Though there wasn’t much knowledge in the beautifully-made series that was news to me, the videographer’s beauty of it all meshed with a sense of terror that sometimes overcomes me out “under” (?) the stars on a relatively non-light-polluted Berkeley night. So few stars appearing—relatively even for the folks atop the Chilean Andes [See photo < 2 >] (or wherever) seeing an expanse of “our” galaxy. So many strands in the cosmic sponge of galaxies, etc, etc., etc. The Sloan Digital Sky Survey is really creepy.

Notwithstanding that Kimberly Arcand [in the last episode, too] got it right with her trope of [our solar system being] an atom [in a drop of water] in trillions of oceans, the existential message is that we’re on our own to make the best of our intelligence as lastingly as possible, but with no ultimate part in the purposeless universe. (A Lee Smolin may trope a “life of the cosmos,” and minds will trope that the universe is “evolving,” but these are sentences of a relatively primitive form of being. Smolin prospects that “We” haven't evolved to be able to conceive the math necessary for fairly modeling quantum gravity—or quantum foam, whatever.) [Smolin prospects that space-time is an emergent property of “quantum loop” strings of quamtum foam forming “empty” space-time.]

You know, very many privileged persons on Earth have so much trouble finding reason to live that they leave life. Thankfully, I've never been ultimately pessimistic, but I've lost loved ones by their own hand. (Then, there are all the famined persons who are doing whatever it takes to stay alive—Ethiopia, now, for example.)

You may have heard about “questions of being” in philosophy, which ultimately face the frightening fact that there is anything at all. Given some kind of “Presence” causing quantum fluctuations prior to the inflation of space-time [a main theme of that last episode on the Big Bang] “into” that Presence, which no intelligence of some galaxy in “the” universe [among other universes?], billions of years older than us can ever know [because we are bound by space-time within this “version” {?} of physics—the prospected, questionable Anthropic principle], one rightly wonders why some of us inquire so exuberantly. 

You and your cohorts in “pure” science are the exemplars of what intelligence in this galaxy singularly (so far) is: loving “to find out,” as [major theoretical physicist Richard] Feynman titled some essays. 

But you expressed the best of it: In a sense, it's the art of it, making the venture as beautiful—as elegant—as we can. 

That goes for our little lives: loving a path, making beauty, moving on for more.

I wonder about the inevitably older intelligences in our galaxy who stay Silent

A gardener doesn't want to interrupt the growing. Witnessing the beauty of innocence in children playing. 

The great novelist Nabokov loved to chase butterflies, exuberant about finding a new species. 

Fun! That's the ultimacy of being.

Gary