Monday, June 26, 2017

The Miracle We Exist

I just finished Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s new book “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry.”  With my limited knowledge of science, I can’t say I followed it all, but a couple of things jumped out at me. 

First in discussing the composition of the universe, he notes visible matter (all the planets, stars and galaxies) account for no more than 5% of the mass.  The other 95% is composed of dark energy (68%) and dark matter (27%).  In discussing dark matter – which we know nothing about – he says one possible explanation is it:

“…could be just one of an infinite assortment of universes that comprise the multiverse.  Sounds exotic and unbelievable.  But is it any more crazy than the first suggestion that that the Earth orbits the Sun?  That the Sun is one of a hundred-billion stars in the Milky Way?  Or that the Milky Way is but one of a hundred galaxies in the universe?” (Page 89).

It’s mind-bending and awe-inspiring to contemplate the known size of our universe, much less what came before it 14 billion years ago when it was “contained in a volume less than one-trillionth the size of the period that ends this sentence.”   And what could lie beyond our universe?

What would happen if humans stopped to think about our miracle of existence?  How would it shape our interactions with each other and with our planet?  I think we would be profoundly different. 

But how do we get the word out?  That’s the challenge.