Two of the most exciting scientific discoveries of my lifetime occurred this year—right up there with the moon landing and the birth control pill. The Kepler space telescope opened up the heavens to us and there they were: Billions of planets right here in our own galaxy—some of them with temperate, earth-like conditions that could support life!
The territory of nut-job space enthusiasts and sci-fi fanatics is now being encroached on by mainstream scientists with their full array of equipment and math formulas.
And that’s not all that happened this year. Einstein’s special theory of relativity took a knock on the head when CERN scientists clocked neutrinos (subatomic particles) moving faster than the speed of light! They either arrived before they left, or they could have moved through a fifth dimension—either way, it’s mind-bending! Suddenly, the possibility of time travel and space travel is not so crazy. The distances between stars are not as immense as our old understanding of speed and time taught us.
We are infants. Our science hasn’t even learned to crawl yet. We don’t use anywhere near our brain’s capacity. Yet our imagination is limitless. Our spirits are the stuff of the cosmos—both literally and poetically. We now know that there is no “nothing”—no “empty” space. The term “nothing” negates itself, both as a concept and as space occupied. The space between us all is teaming with molecules, and studies have shown that our very thought patterns can affect these molecules.
So, in light of our new knowledge, can we recognize how insignificant are our differences and how great is our shared human experience? Can we regard the prospect of the New Year as an opportunity to start over—to try, really try to honor the commonality of humanity, celebrate the cultural differences of our fellow earthlings, and respect the precious balance of our beautiful planet? We’ve nothing to lose, which means we have everything to lose if we don’t. Besides, I don’t think that the more advanced species who have space travel will let us into their territory until we’ve shown that we can be trusted not to go lopping atom bombs at other planets, or something.
[Thanks to William Falk for the info in his article in The Week—love that magazine.]