Friday, December 30, 2005

Space-Time Continuum

What part of quantum theory do you not understand? That's on a T-Shirt Grace, the artist, gave me for Christmas. Then Judith (Eternity II) sent me that link to the Astronomy Picture of the Day. Then I stumbled across Pete Townshend's blog (The Boy Who Heard Music) where he's serializing a sci-fi novella. Obviously, the Universe is speaking to me. :) I'm putting that little smiley there just in case someone, having read my previous posts about my psychiatric hospitalizations, thought I was serious. :) I'm not that far gone yet. :) (Hey, can you guys tell I'm the daughter of a paranoid?) :) :)

But seriously, folks, I just love that whole space-time continuum thingy, don't you? Tomcat says it just keeps everything, you know, kind of, together. My Dad took my brother and I out into the yard at night to talk about space and its vast distances and the immense age of the starlight we were seeing. As I posted before, my brother was inspired to become a scientist. I suppose that's where I got my interest in astrology. And in some sci-fi. Many science fiction fans are just that -fanatics. They collect metric buttloads of the stuff, reading just about anything that comes out. I prefer to think of myself as a connoisseur. :) The Dune books, Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow and Children of God, Arthur C. Clarke.

This isn't exactly the Nicene Creed, but here's what I believe, based on the (shaky) assumption that the human race doesn't destroy itself first: We will discover how to travel faster than light. I believe we already do this with our minds. :) We will discover how to travel in time. I believe we already do this with our minds. :) We may not be consciously aware of this, but I believe some adepts do this routinely. I believe we have been discovered by other civilizations.

Uh-oh. Not another UFO nut. :)

Think about it. Probably most people have a reasonable grasp by now, in the early stages of our Space Age, of the immensity of space. It's big. But have you ever thought of how old the Universe is? It's old. Lookit, someone calculated that if you filled an Olympic-sized swimming pool with salt, each grain of salt could represent a galaxy in the Universe. That's galaxy, not stars. Each galaxy contains (approximately) a buhzillion stars. That takes up a lot of space. Those stars (about a fafillion or so) are orbited by planets and their moons. Of those planets and moons, approximately a popillian can sustain life. (Don't get me started on whether it's intelligent life, because we're still working on that right here.) All of this is true today.

All of this was also true a million years ago, and a billion years ago before that, and a gazillion years ago before that. Just think of how many solar systems containing life have come and gone, long gone, in those spans of time. A whole bunch. Probably some of them advanced to their own Space Age (their scientists would have had Dads who took them out in the yard at night to look at the stars).

Over the eons there could have been kaboodles of space-faring civilizations per epoch. Heck, there could have been whole scads of them. Maybe gobs of them thought it would be fun to see if there were any other planets like theirs (they would have had salt-filled Olympic-sized swimming pools, too, probably.) So now we've narrowed it down to gobs of advanced space-faring, waterworld-seeking civilizations per epoch times a buhzillion galaxies over the span of piles of epochs.

Whew. That could mean that tons of space-faring cartographers or uninhabited probes could have been sent out to map solar systems, galaxies, and nearby galaxies over the last gundazillion years. I believe our own little planet could have been catalogued by long-ago civilizations oh, at least a dozen times by now. Perhaps even explored.

So yeah, another UFO nut. :)

Assuming we don't destroy ourselves first, I believe we will eventually send out our own explorers to find other life-sustaining planets and moons. Hopefully we won't then start destroying them.

Those of you my age will remember the bright promises of the new Space Age. We were gonna have all kinds of neat stuff. Hey, where's my jet pack? My car that rides through the air? My paperless office? Well, all the money that could have been spent on the neat stuff was used for other things, like the Cold War and the wars that followed. Where's your jet pack? In Vietnam. And so it went, and so it goes today. Damn it. We're gonna screw up this space-time continuum thingy for sure.

Have a nice day. :)