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Posts Tagged ‘mind’

Living as a mostly hermit, I’m not as in touch with the daily news as I suspect other bloggers must be. The fact that I knew, last week, that Chrysler was going under for its “surgical” procedure was a matter of chance.

I aim, little by little, to tune into news that doesn’t change. Ezra Pound thought that was literature; I’d like to think of it as truth. The problem is, what is true evades capture by those pesky things we call words and sentences; this makes it an especially challenging topic for a medium such as this.

One worldly news-like item I did read up on this week is the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) they built on the Franco-Swiss border. You know what I’m talking about, the world’s largest particle accelerator that cost more than 6 billion to build, the one they had to shut down after only two weeks. I was aiming to disabuse myself of possible hype I’d heard that those tiny particles, if they ever actually do collide and break apart, could take the earth, or even the whole universe, along with them. The independent scientists hired to assess the risk determined there was none. Of course, since the whole purpose for building the thing is that we have no idea what will happen if there’s a collision, how they could know the outcome will be safe is beyond me.

Still, the thing is impressive. It is, essentially, a 17-mile proton racetrack buried deep beneath the ground; two actually, since they run in both directions. To keep them going round and round, the thing requires close to 2000 gigantic magnets, each weighing from roughly 30 to 2000 tons. Once they get that fake rabbit back up and running, and the protons are released from their paddock, they’ll gallop round that over-sized ring in a breezy 90 microseconds. That’s about 11,000 times per second, or .999999991 times the speed of light.

It’s the largest, most sophisticated and expensive scientific apparatus built in human history; thousands of scientists from all over the world have contributed to its design. All of this expense and effort to understand one of the most common things in the world; the scientists who lead this effort have themselves calculated that the kind of “experiment” they’re conducting happens naturally “many many many trillions” of times every second throughout the universe, all around us, all the time.

What this tells me is we don’t have a clue as to what’s really going on. In fact, some scientists, even those intimately involved with it, feel that the best, most interesting outcome for the LHC project would be if they find nothing at all—no new particles, no extra dimensions, nothing. The thinking is that a no show will show how little we have actually figured out, opening all kinds of new directions for physics to go in.

Even if they do find something, however, I’d like to venture a guess that it will simply be one more perplexing, plump babushka in the ever-vanishing succession of Russian dolls that makes up our universe.

The LHC is essentially, through us, an attempt by the universe to examine itself; this is why advanced physics is so weird. Let me explain.

The briefest way to characterize the LHC is as an attempt to understand the Big Bang. The Big Bang however, if that’s how things happened, was an episode that involved every point in the universe, all of space and time, being compacted into an infinitesimally small point, the singularity. That point is the seed from which the universe, in a sense, grew. But, and this is a Big But (ha ha), we cannot allow ourselves to think of that seed as having grown over time, since the seed itself contained, or inhabited, all of the time in which it would grow. The singularity of the Big Bang and the universe it spawned cannot be thought of as truly separate, in space or time. The seed, in effect, is the flower and the flower is the seed. The chicken and egg arise simultaneously.

So what’s my point?

We cannot properly think of ourselves as separate from the universe since we are, literally, a function of it. That cosmic episode, the one they’re trying to figure out, contained within it the possibility of us, the cosmo-genetic coding that brought us into being. Any attempt by us to apprehend it is, in a very real sense, navel-gazing. This is why we only see sub-atomic particles where we look for them, why they appear responsive to us. The fact that they could be virtually anywhere until we look for them means, in a very real sense, that they must somehow be everywhere until we do. And they are. And so are we.

If this sounds strange or troubling to you, get a grip. If you haven’t yet discovered that there’s a lot more going on than meets the eye in this world, it’s time you cottoned on.

What I’d like to suggest here is a shift in perspective. How do we come to truly understand the universe? It’s time we began to see that we are the experiment, and the microscope. Apprehending just how strange and magnificent the universe is is not something we can ever do with our eyes and ears alone. We will never see the nature of the cosmos, not even if we build a yet more dizzyingly expensive, colossal apparatus that reaches to the heavens, because it cannot be seen.

The only instrument we have that can come to appreciate the nature of all that is, is ourselves. How do we do this? We use the entire machine. What we are is an astonishingly sophisticated, fully-integrated, cosmically interpenetrating device designed, if you can call it that, as an opportunity for the universe to know itself. To grasp the universe and fully realize this opportunity requires employment of the whole organism—body, mind, spirit. It involves tapping into that integrated place where we effortlessly know the nature of the universe because we finally know our true selves. As expressions of the universe, the flower of that singular seed, knowing ourselves and understanding the cosmos are one and the same.

The LHC took decades to build and cost more than 6 billion dollars. We took 15 billion years to evolve from that crazy singularity, and the only way we’ll ever truly understand it is when we’re absolutely free.

Peaceful Sabbath,

Jonathan

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