Monday, October 1, 2012


At the public library the other day I picked up three nonfiction books.  The books were located in three completely different subject areas: from the Dewey 100's to the 500's to the 900's.

I love learning stuff.

Science isn't my only passion.  I really should have been a writer/architect/tennis pro/evolutionary biologist/astronomer/cult leader. Oh, and I forgot linguist.

The latest thing to capture my attention has been The Universe.  The planets, the solar system, our galaxy, other galaxies, time, expansion, the Big Bang, the nature of everything-- where it comes from and where it's going to.  Huge doesn't even begin to describe our universe, and when I consider all the mysteries it contains it makes me a little dizzy.

It may look like a collection of penises, but these enormous "Pillars of Creation" are in the process of creating new stars.  Our entire solar system would fit into that tiny finger-like object on the left one.  That is a huge erection!

When I consider all these mysteries, it's easy to dismiss any of the petty problems in my life, or in the lives of the people around me, or of humanity itself, or of our planet.  We are smaller than tiny.  Things I fret about, like a tennis match or an election or saving the environment-- they mean nothing.  We may destroy our environment and that of many organisms on our planet, but the planet itself, we can't touch it. 

The Earth has survived much worse than a case of the humans.  We're like a small rash on a world that's been around long before us and will go on long after us.  And that world itself is just one tiny insignificant dot among of trillions and trillions of things spinning around in space.

Perhaps it's escapist, but I love that I have the luxury of considering the universe, of thinking about what's really going on in all those places we can't see, hear, or touch (or haven't seen, heard, or touched yet.)  It is almost like a drug the way it takes hold of my mind.

Maybe this is what God does for religious people-- makes them feel like they are one tiny part of something much greater and more mysterious.  For me, I'll take science and astronomy and science fiction-- stories and fantasies and possibilities based on what we already know about the laws of the universe-- and escape into that.            

No comments: