Thursday, September 08, 2011

Improbable universe

What happened to you today that was improbable? Think about it. Our lives are so delineated, organized, and made predictable not only by outside forces but by ourselves, because we like things that way. But the clue to the truth of life is in those events that clue us in that there are vast regions of unmapped territory out there. The entire universe is, as a matter of scientific fact, a thoroughly improbable beast.

A recent article in Scientific American called "The Inflation Debate" (April 2011) points out that for a universe to expand rapidly and continuously, in the period of what is known as "inflation" just subsequent to the original Big Bang, is a highly improbable event to begin with. But for a universe to emerge through the inflation as flat as a pancake, as ours is, relatively speaking--well, the chances of this happening are roughly equivalent to your being able to walk onto a vast beach, plunge your hand somewhere into the sand, and pull out a tiny diamond that I have hidden there. If we didn't know better, we would have to conclude that our present existence is so improbable as to be for all intents and purposes the pipe dream of a jokester deity.

So note and be aware of the little things that happen each day that lie outside the normal range. Because they represent the actual nature of this reality which is, as I have shown, of the most unusual character. One might think that God, or the pantheon of godlike forces, whoever is responsible for creating this unlikely universe, must actually be continuously reverse engineering this place. Not limited by our ideas of linear causality or constrained by the pedestrian organizational principles we humans espouse, the godforce is busy bringing new ideas out of the future to improve the present, while massaging the stomach of the past to better digest this expanding meal of change. This is the only way to explain how the specificity of what has happened could emerge from random conditions. Does God cheat at his own game of cosmic poker? Who's keeping track?

Then too, it may merely be a case that if there is a 1% chance of rain today in Iowa, but I happen to be standing under the only rain cloud in the state, there is a 100% chance of my getting wet. So despite the improbablity of the universe having turned out as it did, creating a conundrum for cosmologists, and despite the improbability of our being here at all in this flabbergastingly strange world (let's face it), we are getting pretty inundated with whatever it is. Call it reality, I don't know. It's a pancake that's getting infinitely rolled up and stuffed like a blintz. And we're supposed to eat this thing?

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