Friday, August 27, 2010

In My Opinion, No. 6: The Universe

My good roommate CC bought me a Borders gift card for my birthday a couple of months ago. I have a weak spot for large, fully-illustrated Smithsonian Institute coffee table books. I've already read Animal cover-to-cover and plan on buying Earth some time in the future.

This time around I redeemed my gift card for a book entitled Universe. I think this all stems from my fascination with creation. Whether it's the complexity of life, the distant galaxies, or the earth around us, if it has to do with the whats and how-tos, I'm hooked.

So, I sit in my living room with a book about a quarter of my height in size draped over my lap and have repeatedly mind-blowing experiences reading it. Not only do I attempt to grapple with the idea that there is an elastic space-time continuum that bends and attracts not only light and matter but time as well, but also that there may be ten dimensions or more:

Also, there is so much stuff in the universe that we have no way of even detecting some of it: the mysterious dark matter and dark energy that sound like something out of science fiction.

I aver that the whole of creation says something about the Creator. Take one example: God prefers symmetry. Whether one looks at the spinning galaxies, spherical stars and planets, bilateral animals and plants, single-celled organisms, and even individual atoms, there is usually a reflection in shape around one or more axes. Asymmetrical matter and beings do exist and actually thrive, but they are the exception, not the norm.

The universe is also extremely good at recycling, turning seemingly bad events into the seeds of positive change. Often cataclysmic destruction is the catalyst for the next generation of stars, the next form of life, the next stage of the universe's evolution. There's an object lesson in there, methinks.

It's also becoming increasingly apparent that what makes the universe work is not a series of laws and forces, but matter itself. Scientists used to believe that light was simply a phenomenon, trackless, massless, almost nonexistent. Now we know that photons are light embodied, zipping about the universe at a (possibly) constant, unthinkable speed. Some scientists also believe that even the force of gravity is actually made up of bodies called gravitons, and there may be other trickier types of matter called bosons and gluons that control weird but inherent forces in the universe.What does all this tell me? God uses physical "stuff" to make the universe operate. It makes me wonder of what exactly is the "light of Christ" and "spirit matter" composed. Gluons?

Archaeologists are certain that even prehistoric humans looked up and studied the heavens to understand their place on earth. I like that even with all we know now, we still do the same. Glory.


  1. I've never had a desire to go into space. The depths of the ocean scare me. The concept of infinity freaks me out. I'm realizing more and more how much I like boundaries. If I were a superhero I'd be something like "Stay at Home and Read Girl" . . .not much super or hero in that. Maybe one day, when I take the time to understand them, I'll be more interested in the great unknowns, but for now there is so much around me to explore and take joy in, I think I'll just keep my feet on the ground.

  2. It makes me sad that the space program dwindles. I worry that we forget the importance of feeding the human spirit by the inspiration that accompanies exploring the heavens.