“Bang” said the universe. And so it all began. You’d better have a seat, this is Big.
Or at least this is what the news is today. Something about the presence of teensy-weensy little micro gravitational waves leaving trace patterns that can be detected by a big camera in Antarctica. From there, it’s a simple bit of math… carry the 4 and hey presto! Proof that the universe expanded out from a little speck in just a trillionth of a second or so! It’s called Chaotic Inflation Theory and it looks like this:
Heck, ripples in the space-time continuum, it all sounds like good fun to me. Very cool, yes. Plus I like the way it gives us a chance to gush on about these “scientists” as kind of generic sub-set of humankind – lab-coated and erudite, mostly harmless and oh so endearing, what with their childlike glee grinning out from their doctoral degrees and lofty titles. A big kudos to you all for figuring that one out… you guys totally rock!
And yet…okay I’ll say it: so what? As the rest of the newscast reels out today’s litany of tragedy, injustice and just plain human meanness, I find myself underwhelmed by the discovery of this cosmic missing link. What practical value can this possibly have, other than as that quirky good news filler at the end of the program, albeit with a slightly longer media life than most?!
For the good folks at Creationist Ministries, though, I suppose this kind of fits in the ‘bad news’ category. Well, don’t fret about it brother, it’ll all blow over, and anyway since when has a little scientific proof gotten in the way of ideology? (A note to those sociologists out there all set to pounce on the notion that science is beyond the pale of ideology: 1. Neither are you. 2. Just chill for God sakes!). Now here’s another picture:
Okay now back to the subject at hand. Scientists are claiming that their analysis of the squirrelly little photos provides proof to “a confidence level of 5-Sigma” (God don’t you love those guys!) This has definitely come across as good news to the theory’s founding father Professor Andrei Linde, who was ambushed early this week by Stanford University’s version of a sciency flash mob (okay, it was just one guy). The happy event currently making ripples on youtube and your local fb. Five Sigmas, dammit!
Now this. This is where I start to understand it what the point of it all is. See if you agree.
“What if I am tricked? What if…I believe in this just because it is beautiful? What if… yes. So this is… really helpful.”
That line really hits me. It so happens I was looking for my own ripples in the fabric of space and time this afternoon, with leaky sneakers and soaking slushy rain. Undeniably grim, miserable March rain, but still beautiful, still something to wonder at, this bit of the universe spilling out its billionth trillionth variation on an old theme: bang, bang, bang…