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The Universe


The Universe is fairly large, and a bit frightening. Even the Moon is pretty

far away, and it's our closest neighbor.


Going at five miles a second, it takes the astronauts the better part of two

days to get there, and it's only a quarter of a million miles away. Our Sun is

ninety-three million miles away, and big enough for the Moon to orbit the Earth

inside of it with a quarter of a million miles left to spare outside the Moon's orbit.

And our Sun is not a big star.


The number of stars in our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is about equal to

the number of grains of wheat three feet deep over an eight acre farm, and it

takes a hundred thousand years for light to go across the galaxy from edge to

edge. And our galaxy is not a very big galaxy.


The number of galaxies we know about is not as many as the number of

stars in our own galaxy, but it's pushing. And the edge of the observable

Universe is nearly fifteen billion light years away. Light goes seven and a half

times around the Earth in one second, and it comes to us from the border of the

observable Universe in about fifteen billion years. It's a pretty long way out there.


It's a little scary to be left alone to swim in such a large puddle. And it's a

very lonely puddle. The density of our puddle is only twenty drops of water in a

billion cubic miles. That's all the Universe there is. How lonely can it get?


In nineteen hundred and five Einstein noticed that the Universe is made of

energy. It's not made of forces or momentum or angular momentum or electrical

charge. Their totals stand at zero. And in Einstein's nineteen hundred and five

geometry even space and time show up as a pair of opposites, so they too can

go to zero. Space shows up in Pythagoras' equation squared with a plus sign,

and time shows up squared with a minus sign, so that if a light beam can get

across from one event to another, their total separation is zero. And that puts the

separation between you and every event that you have ever seen in your entire

life at zero.


Now there's no excuse for the Universe to be set up in this outlandish

fashion unless the Vedantins, the Advaitins, are right, unless what exists is

changeless, infinite and undivided, and not in time and space, and unless seeing

It in time and space is a mistake, and unless energy is that Underlying Existence

showing through in that mistake, and unless it's possible to undo the mistake.


John L. Dobson, February 25, 2006, Hollywood, California