Monday, 21 March 2011
Is there anybody out there?
Watching Professor Cox on the rather magical 'wonders of the universe' two things occur to me.
One, how did someone so interesting and intelligent have anything to do with a song so execrable as 'Things can only get better'?
Two, how can we take life seriously when we (by we I do, of course, mean incredibly smart chaps like Cox) know virtually nothing about the universe in which we live?
Certainly the mindbending knowledge already in human possession is a laudable feat; space time, relativity, quarks, gravity, atoms and the rest, but the shortfall is astounding. For example our galaxy revolves around a black hole and everything in existence will eventually be sucked into it, or not, or we will never get close to the event horizen to find out, or we will, or we'll be destroyed by something hitting the planet, or not, or the planet will get rid of these beastly upstart human beings, who've only been around for a few hundred thousand years, and continue happily on it's life journey (over four a half billion years and counting) with barely a moment's hesitation.
I'm beginning to see why some people believe in a invisible man in the sky who threw it all together for his own amusement in 6 days (the 7th was presumably used to catch up on his Sky Plus recordings).
In an infinite universe amongst infinite universes it seems unlikely, why bother? However, I can see that having a nice little delusion to hide behind rather than go through the head-scrambling alternative as us athiests have to might give some relief, whatever gets you through eh?
Now, as a man whose grasp of astrophysics is chiefly made up of watching Red Dwarf I love the fact that Professor Cox and his ilk hand us this information in easily digestible chunks. What I don't enjoy is the nagging feeling in my mind that occurs at least twice daily that all in all nothing is important, nothing has consequence, there is no great scheme and we are adrift with nothing but hope, bizarre belief systems and fledgling space exploration for chums.
A feeling that is only intensified after watching a clever bloke tell me that indeed we are doomed, the planet is doomed, the whole of human history will one day soon mean absolutely zip, nada, nothing.
I guess that means I can have another beer...
Listening to: The Galaxy Song - Monty Python
Reading: K-Pax - Gene Brewer