Friday, May 11, 2012

The CERN generation

We already know that we are part of a massive universe.

The Hubble Telescope started sending us images in 1990, and Carl Sagan was already producing Cosmos in 1980, so it's safe to say that we Millennials have grown up conscious of the size and scope of the univrese, at least vaguely. 

Both of these happened in 1990

Research that is now possible at the CERN institute has confirmed  that our universe is not limited in the way we thought it was. 

Previously, when we observed light, we thought we could see the edge of the universe. We were told the universe has an edge. But that is not the case. That edge is more like a horizon line - there could be infinitely more past the edge. 

And our universe probably has layers. Our reality is like one page in a book with lots of pages. Theorists, physicists, and cosmic scientists are now confident that our universe is one of many, that our universe runs parallel to others that we are incapable of observing.  That is almost impossible to comprehend.

an artist's rending of the multiverse.  Can we do better than this?

Think of your own vision:   
You know that you cannot see infrared or ultraviolet light. And you know that it is emitted by all of our appliances and by the sun. So there is a whole lot of data about the things you see that you don't know, or have any way of sensing. Can you imagine the full range of light?

Or take a classic example: You are a microscopic insect crawling on a piece of paper. The paper is one of dozens of sheets stacked on top of each other. Can you imagine your 2-D world as 3-D?  

Big ideas are almost impossible to communicate.
Is that a surprise? Our language is really not very good at communicating anything other than past, present, future, near, or far. Figuring out meaningful conversations to have about such foreign concepts is a whole job in itself, called philosophy. 

The internet can help.
Communicating ideas globally is the first step - after all, CERN invented the internet for a reason. 

In a sense, we are the CERN generation - the first to grow up with the Cosmos in mind, and the first to grow up with the internet to talk about it. Remember, Carl Sagan is our grandfathers' age. 
Still cool. Thanks, grandpa.

Even though the science is there, more than there, we aren't aware of it because this kind of stuff is so hard to understand, so hard to communicate, so hard to comprehend. 

Internet! Go invent a new way of thinking about the world!