If there’s one thing I know, it’s that I don’t know enough things! I’m forever questioning stuff. The advice people give to those with my condition seems to be ‘stop thinking too much!’ To anyone else similar in that respect, I’m sure you agree, that doesn’t work. I’m not consciously choosing to over think about the things around me, it just happens. Though, when your Nana tells you, mid conversation, ‘you need to take a chill pill’, you know somethings wrong. I sometimes feel a bit like JD from Scrubs, my inner monologue constantly picking each moment apart, looking for possible puns or contemplating what my or someone else’s motives are for acting a certain way, or is there even any damn point to all this anyway. Except for me it’s not always funny and the credits never roll. Maybe everyone’s like this and we just don’t talk about it! Either way I’m fascinated by everything and seen as asking questions is what separates us from every other known species in the universe, I thought perhaps putting fingers to keys might help to calm the endless mess of unanswered things bouncing around in my noggin and leaving little time for any kind of rest. I’m not claiming to have any answers, nor am I expecting people to offer me any, or even choose to read it for that matter. But if it’s mine and it’s out there then maybe it will help me connect… Rest assured it’s (hopefully) not going to just be the ramblings of a tiny mad man, it will be ramblings of a tiny mad man who loves space and science and shit. So, here we go.
CAPTAIN’s BLOG, DAY ONE. (Sorry, couldn’t resist!)
So I felt a good place to start would be with reality and our connection to it. I feel like it’s important because we all have our own version of it and how it affects us. What we believe to be real and what actually is, can be vastly different. I’ve been lacking something for quite a long time and haven’t been able to put my finger on what. I know that I am fortunate to have the life I do and that there are many people in the world who are not so, so shouldn’t this make me content and happy? I’ve been blaming it on work, or negative influences rubbing off on me, but those are things I am capable of changing so why worry about it?
A celebrity interventionist called Jeff VanVonderen from America came to visit my friend’s church last year and I went along to hear what he had to say. I spoke to him after his talk and told him I sometimes feel a bit empty with the world and can’t explain or understand why. He asked me if I believed in God to which I replied I didn’t. I assumed he would tell me to find God, but he said ‘You have to find out what you really believe in. People and material things are all imperfect just like you and will never quite be enough. Find something beyond all that and put your faith in it.’
I was talking to my nana, a fascinating and devout catholic lady who I often sit and put the world to rights with. We got talking about faith and religion. I love that she is happy to delve into topics with me and I’m always rewarded with her direct and straight forward views so I asked her what she thought would happen when we discover life elsewhere in our universe. She didn’t hold much of a view on alien life and being a technophobe too, I didn’t go into the fact that we know our own galaxy contains an estimated 100 million habitable planets and there’s another estimated 500 billion galaxies out there too. NASA’s chief scientist Ellen Stefan has even stated she believes we will find definitive signs of life elsewhere in the universe within 20 – 30 years. Ok, it might only be microbial, but it’s a start. We have even sent out messages to potential neighbours; the Voyager 1 and 2 were both sent out with a golden record on the side to give the receivers an idea of what life on earth is like. They also have a uranium clock so anything finding it could use the rules of nuclear decay to determine how long it had been out in space and a map to show our exact location in the universe in relation to pulsars… let’s hope they’re friendly! Voyager 1 has already left our solar system and is going at 100,000 mph through interstellar space. Granted it would take 40,000 years to even reach the next star but it is a nice way for NASA to say, we know you’re out there and we want to hear from you.
Check out this VIDEO of the 116 images that NASA felt would best depict life on earth.
But I really wanted to know how aliens would fit into the views of someone whose reality is based on a belief system from an ancient book written before we had the tools to understand our universe. Bearing in mind the New Testament was written in the same era that Ptolemy had written the Almagest which had the world accepting it was the centre of the universe and did not move. In universal terms 2000 years is the blink of an eye and where we might have been to in another 2000 could revolutionise our understandings all over again.
Would the church adjust their beliefs of what is written as we evolve as a species, as they have had to for example with female priests or gay marriage? And if that can be done, at what point is the whole thing subject to change and actually just one of many stories told in the olden days? Having given a lot of thought to this subject lately, and respecting her views on the world, I had to ask her about it even though it felt somewhat taboo considering how much her faith means to her. I’m so glad that I did. She told me that we all have our beliefs and things we choose to spend our time putting our faith into. She asked me why I thought millions of people around the world still chose to believe in ancient scripts about incredible stories of power and miracles? I told her I thought it was like how children want to believe in Santa. An amazing story promising gifts of heaven and acceptance, but once we are open to it being untrue and learn more we realise it is not the case. She told me that she knows of course, not all faiths can be right and even if one of them is correct, billions of people across the world are still believing in something which doesn’t exist but that the important thing is the fact that they believe at all, no matter what we learn or how far along we come, people all over the world are still willing to put their faith into a reality beyond what we know to be true. We are all trying to connect to the world we are in and most of us, at some point in life will need more than the material things we can see in front of us. Without giving me a straight answer, she had answered my question.
When my grandpa died, my nana found strength in her faith and was the strongest person in our family. Her acceptance that everything is the plan of a higher power was enough for her to be strong and help her family through the hardest time of her life. It has allowed her to live a full and happy 85 years without questioning such things so much. This is her reality and it works for her. It’s a reality that means there is more to life than just what we see around us.
Now I may not be able to put my faith into something which feels so far from reality to me, but some of the things I do spend time thinking and learning about are not much further from reality than the concept of a virgin having a baby, or someone coming back to life after death…
It’s easy to think that as we know so much about what matter and forces make up our world we would have all the answers about our own reality from a scientific point of view. We finally gained the knowledge and technology to look beyond our little planet and understand the way that we interact with our star matches planets interacting with their stars billions of light years away, in the same ways that apples fall from trees here on earth. Gravity is second nature to us and we feel it every day. But zoom in to the building blocks that make up the matter we know and things start to get interesting. Weird, but interesting.
Entanglement, for example, makes me question reality every time I think about it. Two particles are basically put in an entangled state. This means that their properties are linked, i.e. if one is spinning up, the other will be spinning down. These particles can then be moved away from each other and isolated ready for measurement and their properties remain entangled. Then by affecting the properties of one, the properties of the other change instantaneously. We have proven this to work at a distance of over a kilometre but it was done with such accuracy that the distance could be millions of kilometres and would still work.
Now Einstein talked about this in 1935 with his incredibly scientific ‘spooky action at a distance’ but back then there was no technology around to do any experiment that could be deemed accurate, but now we have. Einstein stated that nothing could travel faster than the speed of light and backed that up with scientific theory, this was widely accepted since then but having finally carried out an experiment with no loopholes we know it works. Somehow information about the state of a particle is being passed without light or by any other medium, over vast distances and instantaneously changing the state of another.
Now if that doesn’t blow your mind, the way that these properties are affected might too. Until the particles are observed, they are considered to be in both an upward and downward spin state. Only when observed or measured do they decide on which direction this spin is. I’ll give you a moment to pick up the shattered splinters of your reality while you comprehend all this… Have a look HERE if you want to read more.
Then there’s the famous double slit experiment, I feel like there’s a lot of reading here already so I’ll let Dr Quantum do the explaining –
I know all this seems to only affect the very small, but it also opens up pretty huge questions about reality and our connection to it. If merely observing a particle could have an instantaneous effect on another particle at the opposite end of the universe then what does this mean for how we as the measurer are connected to such things, why do particles care whether we are looking at them or not? Why do the basic principles of what we understand reality to be, not always apply? What are we missing? We might not understand it all yet but we are already devising ways of using entanglement and superposition to build quantum computers (unlike normal binary computers with 1’s and 0’s, particles in superposition can be in both states at once until measured and therefore should be able to perform at much higher speeds), who knows, maybe they will help us find the answers.
It might be that a reality based on religion can be changed by science and evolution, but a reality based on science seems to also be changeable. Part of connecting with our universe must be accepting the reality that surrounds us. We move through life with a connection to time, space and matter as much as our brain power will allow us to comprehend. But what happens when we learn that reality as we know it, does not follow the rules we understand. Does that open up the idea that other parts of our connection to the universe might also be superficial, and once we find the answers and peel back the next layer, what will that mean for how we perceive our place in the universe?
What do I believe? I believe in the power of me and you and I believe that science will one day have the answers to my questions. That’s what this blog and my 10 days of positivity is about. I intend to work on that connection with people and with my universe.