Warning: I am not a physicist. I am actually quite ignorant of quantum physics and physics in general as I have no formal education on the subject. This is me simply trying to comprehend certain concepts as best I can and documenting my thoughts. Please be kind and leave a helpful comment if you’d like.
The other day I spent a good amount of time (nearly three hours) at my local Barnes & Noble carefully reading the pages of the fall issue of Scientific American (which they replaced more than a week shy of the issue’s “shelf removal” date). In this issue, they highlight the wonders of the cosmos and the possibility of other dimensions and universes, among many other things. One particular thing that stood out was an allegory from Plato about man’s ignorance in regards to what may lie beyond the known universe. It roughly follows, if you were to trap a man inside a cave with his body fully erect with his limbs outstretched and put a flame behind him, his shadow, and whatever else is reflected in the light, would be all he knows. But what about what lies beyond the cave?¹ How much do we really know about where this all comes from?
You may understand that stars make the elements that make up our universe or even that dark matter and dark energy make up the majority of mass in the universe, but where does this all come from? How did this get here and why? There must be an answer. The first article of the magazine had physicists postulating the potentiality of the Big Bang coming from an explosion in a higher dimension, something we (most people) cannot clearly comprehend or prove. Then I read about comparisons between black hole structures and the big bang and it gave me a sense of overwhelming peace. This peace came from the fact that I was reading, from an incredibly credible source, about different dimensions and far-out concepts that I’ve never heard of before. It was the kind of peace you feel when your mind has been stretched beyond previous limits and can’t go back to what it formerly was. I began to understand the nature of being. It’s moments like these that can change your life forever.
Perhaps you’re wondering are we really just a three-dimensional hologram produced by a fourth dimension entity? Apparently, that could be true. A lot of different things in this crazy universe could be true. Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson mentions a higher dimension as he discusses the nature of gravity and dark matter throughout the cosmos when he says “The shape of our four-dimensional universe comes from the relationship between the amount of matter and energy that lives in the cosmos and the rate at which the cosmos is expanding.”² So I wrote this article to dive a little deeper into the nature of our reality.
Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and The Aether
In Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s newest book Astrophysics for People In A Hurry he discusses the elusive nature of dark matter and it’s gravitational properties and how it affects large sources of matter in the universe (i.e. we need dark matter to explain the motion of stars around the center of our galaxy and galaxy clusters). He also humorously postulates that what we’re seeing in dark matter could possibly be the effect of something beyond our dimension, “The worst that can happen is we discover that dark matter does not consist of matter at all, but of something else. Could we be seeing the effects of forces from another dimension?”²
I can’t help but feel a little a motivated by this critical ingredient in our universe which we know so little about. We know it has gravitational influence, but we don’t know what the hell it is. We also know that dark energy is responsible for the rapid expansion of the universe. Maybe I’ll figure it out someday.
A Higher Power
Based on the limitations we’ve explored in modern physics and other sciences perhaps there could very well be a God of some sort who influences us, or perhaps our bodies are just vessels for spirits that live within and those spirits secede from us as we age and our brain chemistry becomes more and more dysfunctional. Scientist like to encourage that there could not be an omnipotent being and that it is foolhardy to believe that there is. Although our vast universe is well understood, perhaps even more understood than our own oceans, when we think beyond our universe there is limited evidence for us to use that allows us to understand anything beyond it. As Dr. Tyson once put in an interview with Larry King “we come face to face with our ignorance”.
But also keep in mind that a great scientist (like Darwin, for example) shows you the facts and evidence, but does not tell you what to think. So maybe there could be an omnipotent being inhabiting some sphere of influence among the universe, or perhaps the multiverse, but that could also not be the case. Just because we don’t understand doesn’t mean we ascribe the “God” explanation to it, right? Personally, I choose to keep faith in a higher power.
A Valuable Imagination
Albert Einstein is remembered as a promoter of the power of imagination. Because although he was a brilliant scientist he used his imagination in conjunction with his training to do groundbreaking work. After all, imagination is just intelligence having fun.
In life, especially when you’re young and trying to make a name for yourself in society, so many of us are rushing and pushing to gain prestige in the outside world, which we believe signifies a level of success. We go to school, try to get as high of grades as possible, and call it a success. Meanwhile, people like me go on daily guilt trips because I have, historically, never let my grades define my level of success. I believe school and grades can actually hinder that inner genius of imagination. So when I imagine answers to some of the biggest problems my mind isn’t too tainted by facts and concepts I learned. Sort of like the same reason Dr. Louis Leakey recruited Jane Goodall to research the chimps in Gombe during her formative primatologist years; she was relatively ignorant of the field and would provide a fresh perspective.
The way I let my imagination play is by reading as much as I can about a subject from scholarly articles and the like and letting this information ruminate in my mind. I let it soak a little and then think of clever things that might relate to what I’ve read. For example, as I think about the concept of a multiverse full of infinite universes I imagine a place where time does not exist and a being(s) of some sort are in control. No one told me to believe in or accept this stuff, it’s just the idea I get following substantial research and genuine interest.
- Scientific American Fall 2017
- Astrophysics for People In A Hurry by Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson
- “Universe or Multiverse?” by Bernard Carr and George Ellis