‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.’ People Weigh In On What They Think Is The Most Amazing Thing About The Universe
by Trisha Leigh
We probably all have long lists of things that are wrong with this world, but are we still stopping to appreciate all that is amazing?
If you’re struggling with that list, there people are here to help you out.
One of two things.
It must be true that either
It didn’t exist, then it did
2. It has always existed
We just can’t.
The only way we can see the universe is from inside it.
We will likely never possess any way of viewing our universe from outside its physicality.
Take the 13.8 billion year lifetime of the universe and map it onto a single year, so that the Big Bang takes place on January 1 at midnight, and the current time is mapped to December 31 at midnight. On this timeline, anatomically modern humans don’t show up until about 11:52pm on December 31st, and all of recorded history takes place during the last ten seconds.
This concept is called the Cosmic Calendar, popularized by Carl Sagan.
We are all immortal.
That in the grand scheme of things we are all immortal. Our organic cells will die, our consciousness will cease, and we will no longer be able to directly observe existence, but the atoms that make up our bodies will simply be new compounds.
And if energy is neither created nor destroyed, if our atoms continue to be, we will eventually make up the building blocks of new compounds. Pieces of us will watch the sun swallow up Mercury and Venus.
Pieces of us will watch supernovae and black holes and all sorts of cosmic phenomena. Perhaps even one day our atoms will return to a nebula, and the cycle will begin again. A new star is formed, new planets begin to orbit it, liquid water forms on a small green rock orbiting this star, and an intelligent species evolves to travel to marvel at the wonders of our universe.
One of my favorite shows is Battlestar Galactica and one of the quotes that stuck out to me was “All of this has happened before, and it will happen again.” I tend to think there’s some truth to that. I’ve had a couple friends and my grandfather die this year, and as an agnostic I am processing death a bit differently from the rest of my family.
I don’t think of death as the ending, as a finality. I don’t think there is an afterlife as most religions conceive of it. I think that in a weird way, we all live forever.
It won’t matter.
That whatever our problems are, big or small, it won’t matter in 1,000,000 years (worst being a nuclear war or something).
Hard to imagine.
A single human brain has as many neurons as there are stars in the Milky Way galaxy. Around 100 billion.
Source: am neuroscientist filled with useless facts about the brain.
Just a baby.
How young it is.
People look at the universe being 13.7 billion years old and say ‘that is ancient’. That is nothing.
Stars will continue to form for another 100 trillion years. Even after that, stellar remnants will exist for quadrillions of years.
Black holes will still produce energy that can be used by intelligent civilizations for 10100 years.
Keep in mind if biological life doesn’t destroy itself, we will just keep getting more and more knowledge. Its probably a safe bet that within 500 years (which is nothing on universal time scales) we will be an interstellar species that has long ago transcended biology.
There is no telling what our descendants will do for the remaining life of the universe. The 4-5 billion years of biological evolution of life on earth will be looked at as an embryonic stage for endless quintillions of years of real life to begin post-biology.
They will view the universe as their oyster, a place of infinite possibilities while we are still just spending our days trying not to die and trying to avoid being punished by our brains with pain.
The cosmos fears its demise.
I believe that Carl Sagan said that we, sentient entities, are a way for the cosmos to know itself.
With this in mind, when we think about the end of our universe, whether it be through a big shrink, big cooling, or what have you, we get apprehensive.
We probably will never see this end, many of us will be dead. Yet, we still get a cold fear in our hearts.
We are also a way for the cosmos to fear it’s demise.
It gave us magnets. How do those work?
Magnets are f**king magic. Aligning particles with each other makes them fly towards themselves?
Miss me with that hobknocking physics bollocks.
Make it make sense.
If you were on a planet 65 million light years away from Earth and had a really good telescope, you could see the dinosaurs.
It’s indifferent to everything.
it’s incredible to think that for all of our morals, our ideas of good karma and bad karma, what goes around comes around etc. These ideas that feel so ingrained to the world we live in are all mere thoughts in our head, and that the world, the universe, is not just, and seems nothing as good or bad, guilty or innocent, but simply as is. Something I simply cannot comprehend with words.
That we know of.
Whales are the biggest known creatures in the known universe.
A pair of theories.
There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.
There is another theory which states that this has already happened.
Not so random.
That every single random event since the dawn of creation.
The birth and death of stars, planets and galaxies, the very genesis of life has led to you being here right now to ask this question.
That we just don’t understand it. It could be flat, it could be irregular, there could be another one, it’s growing at an exponential speed, it’s invisible contents.
We try to learn more about it using our earthly knowledge but there is certainly more to it. It’s like trying to wrap your head around eternity.
Barely any change.
One of my favorite is about the number of unique orders for cards in a standard 52 card deck.
I’ve seen a a really good explanation of how big 52! actually is.
Set a timer to count down 52! seconds (that’s 8.0658×1067 seconds)
Stand on the equator, and take a step forward every billion years
When you’ve circled the earth once, take a drop of water from the Pacific Ocean, and keep going
When the Pacific Ocean is empty, lay a sheet of paper down, refill the ocean and carry on.
When your stack of paper reaches the sun, take a look at the timer.
The 3 left-most digits won’t have changed. 8.063×1067 seconds left to go.
You have to repeat the whole process 1000 times to get 1/3 of the way through that time. 5.385×1067 seconds left to go.
So to kill that time you try something else.
Shuffle a deck of cards, deal yourself 5 cards every billion years
Each time you get a royal flush, buy a lottery ticket
Each time that ticket wins the jackpot, throw a grain of sand in the grand canyon
When the grand canyon’s full, take 1oz of rock off Mount Everest, empty the canyon and carry on.
When Everest has been levelled, check the timer.
There’s barely any change. 5.364×1067 seconds left.
You’d have to repeat this process 256 times to have run out the timer.
That it doesn’t exist to be observed.
In fact under different circumstances all of its trillions of stars and planets and oceans and moons and mountains could exist for billions of years without ever being observed by anyone.
Everything is buzzing.
Imagine being transported to a parallel universe that was almost identical to our own.
Somewhere out in the vastness of that universe, there is a tiny planet.
This much is true in both universes.
On this planet, there is a beach, and on that beach, there is a small stone.
Once again, both universes are alike in this regard.
Beneath that stone, however, there are several million grains of sand, and while they are all are in precisely the same location in each universe, one of them – a tiny speck of particularly clear quartz, hewn from a larger whole millions of years before – has a single atom that is positioned a fraction of a femtometer differently than its twin in the mirror dimension.
You may think that such an insignificant difference would label these two universes as being functionally identical, and you would be right. In fact, they are so similar that the multiverse has long since combined them into one reality. That single atom in that tiny speck of sand on that lonesome beach on a distant planet merely occupies two spaces at once, seeming to an outside observer to vibrate back and forth at a predictable rate.
That every atom in existence seems to do the same is probably a coincidence.
Suspended in a sunbeam.
“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives.
The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilisation, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there — on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” – Carl Sagan
Somewhere. Or nowhere.
That it exists.
And it came from somewhere. Or nowhere.
A few gems.
Arthur C. Clarke is also responsible for such gems as:
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
“It may be that our role on this planet is not to worship God – but to create him.”
“I’m sure the universe is full of intelligent life. It’s just been too intelligent to come here.”
(Arthur C. Clarke is a brilliant man and a prodigy of an author, and his books are right up the alley of anyone who clicked on this thread out of a curious love for the universe. I highly recommend any and all of his books and short stories.)
I think I needed these, honestly.
Maybe we all do, a little bit.