“So Where Are We?”
23 September 2005
So where are we? Pretty basic question actually and not like “why are we here?” or anything like that but nonetheless, “where are we?” is still a mystery to me.
Let's see, I think I understand that: we are on this rock called Earth (70% covered with water, yet called earth?), rotating around a typical star we call “The Sun”, about midway out one a spur of one of the rotating arms of a pretty typical spiral galaxy, we call “The Milky Way”, which is “in” an expanding universe of billions and billions of galaxies. And where is the space that the universe is expanding into? If I forget about scale, the entire universe could be only an atom in some larger universe, which is in turn is only the size of an atom in a still larger universe and so on. Not really an answer is it? Maybe our universe is only a dust bunny expanding under some giant’s bed somewhere?
Opps! I forgot there for a moment, there is no space-time outside the universe. The universe is creating space-time as it expands or so I am told, which is awfully hard to accept as it goes against my everyday experiences but if is true that there is nothing outside the universe, I still have the question of, where is the universe. Shouldn’t it be somewhere? If Atlas is holding up the world, then who is holding up the universe, God? Could the universe be like a fertilized human embryo expanding and getting ready to divide into 2 in some womb somewhere? If I close my eyes, my ability to perceive things at a distance drops significantly. Perhaps we just do not have the sensor to “see” what is outside the expanding universe? Either way, using the edge of the expanding universe, where exactly is our Milky Way in relation to the edge of the universe? Oh, I know. How about a loaf of bread baking in an oven analog? I place this lump of dough in a bread pan and place it in the oven and begin heating it. What does it do, it expands outward in all directions except that the sides of the pan soon confine the expansion so only the top continues to expand and expand ever so much more quickly that at the sides and the whole time, little air packets form inside the bread like so many galaxies and if I am inside the bread, I can see the edge of the bread at the top and from where I am, I can see nothing which resembles anything I know. I am bread. What do I know about an oven? I wonder, if I place a large enough lump of dough in the oven, won't it eventually hit the top of the oven? I wonder if our universe will eventually expand and run into something, like the sides of a pan or the top of the oven or whatever.
See why I am so confused as to “where are we?”
In the good film “Contact”, the film opens with a shot of the earth from space shuttle orbit and in the background, there is this tangle of audio from all the radio and television signals being broadcast all over the world but then the camera begins to pull away from the earth, out through the solar system and still further out away from the spiral arm we are in until our galaxy begins to recede in the distance. And the whole time the camera is pulling away, the tangle of radio and television signals get quieter and quieter as more and more signals have not made it that many light years out into space. Still the camera continues to pull back until there is no intelligent radio signal at all from earth and then galaxies begin to come fast and furious until black out, the edge of the universe. Really is a nice piece of film making. But point is, if I close my eyes and quiet my mind, I can place myself out “there” and look back at the earth or our solar system or our sun or our galaxy because I have an imagination, which allows me to do so.
Planets, hydrogen compressed into fusion reactors, whole families of stars homing together to form galaxies, galaxies homing to form clusters of galaxies, what, what if it all is just illusionary? What if all this: the planets, galaxies, universe is just some sort of imagined thought stream? We are some chess-type game being played by someone, somewhere else? Now religion says that God created the heaven and the earth and watches over his children all the time and perhaps this is the case. We are the thinkings, the musing of God or a God somewhere or are we simply a simulation model running in some computer somewhere to see if the parameters of this universe will result in the desired results? Right now, if the universe is expanding as “they” say it is and expanding at an ever-increasing rate, eventually this universe will be nothing but a dark, cold place.
If I close my eyes again and calm my mind and disappear into the world of the very small, standing there, among atoms, I cannot see me, do not sense I exist at all. With the space inside an atom and between atoms so large, perhaps from where I stand, there is nothing outside the edge of my element, my atom.
Perception. I guess I am winding around and around and coming up with perception being where we are. The real answer to the question of “Where are we?” is perception. Perception the same as awareness? Do we reside in awareness? Does the universe reside in our awareness?
“So, where are we?”