Friday, October 28, 2016

Jack Pynesapp, Marge, and Red - dark matter

Today I decided to stop at Mother Fools Coffee Shop on my bike ride. I see that they have their new windows - at long last after the car ran into the front of the shop -- so the view is nice once again for sitting and writing.  There is good music and the nice hum of background conversations to smooth out the thought process. 

Dark Matter

It's nearly 9:00 pm and Red Pynesapp, her Grandma Marge,  and Grandpa Jack are still lying on a blanket, looking up at the stars and talking about 'dinosaurs'.

"Do you see that sputnik?" Red pointed where she was looking. "Up there by the handle of the Big Dipper."

"I see it. Are you sure it's not a plane?

"I don't see any colors."

"Is that how you tell?"

"I don't know." Grandpa Jack admitted.

"Wasn't you're dad going to pick you up at 9:00, Red?" Grandma Marge asked.

"He said to call if I needed a ride."

"Maybe you should stay over."

"Yeah, I don't have anything going on tomorrow."

"It's settled." Marge smiled.

"So Red,"  Grandpa asked, "how do you propose we get to the Andromeda galaxy in time to look back here and see the dinosaurs roaming our world?"

"You keep talking about Einstein and the laws of physics that he came up with. Why do we even have to obey the laws of physics?" Red sighed.  "Didn't someone say that all laws are meant to be broken?"

"If all laws are broken you're left with anarchy." Grandma scolded.

"And chaos." Grandpa added. "If you break the laws of physics you would be left with chaos."

"Really?" Red asked.

"Yes, because the laws of physics define our physical Universe; the Universe in which we live; in which we exist.  We are a part of it. We are made from the stuff of this Universe. The molecules and the atoms that make up our bodies are all the same as the Universe that surrounds us."

"And limits us." Red grumped.

"We are part if it and it is part of us." Grandma added. "We evolved together you know; this Universe and us. And these 'laws' as you call them, are the substrate upon which the Universe was built. Our creation depended upon them as does our continued existence. They are the fabric upon which all of this is put together. How do you expect us to be able to break such laws? "

"And even if you could break it, what's to say this whole thing might not come tumbling down? You know, like chaos. "

"So do these laws govern thought as well?" Red asked slyly.

"Now see what you've done, Jack." Grandma scolded. "With your talk of imagination."

"Okay, I'll bite." Grandpa laughed. "Red, what are you getting at?"

Red sat up and crossed her legs. She thought for a minute and then began;  "Science fiction writers have talked about this for a long time, haven't they? They've thought up lots of ways to break the laws of time and space. You know like 'warp drive' in Star Trek, and 'hyper-space' in Star Wars and others."

Grandpa added; "And 'worm holes', 'black holes'. I know; Steven Hawking wrote about these and about space-time curving around and even folding on to itself."

"Steven Hawking isn't a science fiction writer, Grandpa."

"I know. But some some of the things he says are even stranger than fiction." 

"So you're going change the rules of the Universe."  Grandma scoffed; "Or make up new ones -- just so you can go to Andromeda?"

"Not change the rules. " Red said as she lay back down and looked for more satellites. "Maybe we just don't understand what all the rules are -- or how they all work."

"That's a pretty safe bet." Grandpa laughed.

"And what I'm saying is: what if our very existence depends on these physical laws. You break the law and all this vanishes." Grandma waived her arms across the night sky.

"Assuming these laws can be broken." Grandpa said. "It's easy to write about this stuff. What if it's impossible to actually do? " 

"Exactly." Grandma sighed.

"There's a shooting star." Red said. "Did you see that?"

"Did you make a wish?" Grandma asked.

"I did."

"What'd you wish for?" Grandpa asked.

"I can't tell you or it won't come true."

"That's only for birthday wishes."

"I don't think so. I think it's for all wishes." Grandma said.

Red rolled on her side facing her grandparents and propped her head on one elbow. "Okay, so maybe we wouldn't have to actually go to Andromeda. You know, like ourselves; physically I mean."

"Are you talking about the  'two places at once' thing again?" Grandma asked.

"Actually, if I see where you're going with this Red, " Grandpa said, "We don't need to be in two places at once. All we need is to have some thing, or some entity that is two places at once. Remember what we're trying to do - basically - is to get information. We shouldn't need to move matter for that. If we don't move matter then we don't have to obey the laws of time and space."

"Even better than that .. " Red paused for a minute while she collected her thoughts, "what if there was some sort of thing that already existed when our universe was created.  It would be 'outside' the framework of our universe. Right?  Like another dimension maybe, you know --  sort of. So it wouldn't be governed by our laws of time, space, mater, and even energy. This would mean it could exist everywhere and nowhere at the same time." She laughed; "But, you know like the words 'everywhere', 'nowhere', and 'time' are all things in our Universe and would have no meaning (or a different meaning) in what I'm talking about. I guess it just 'is', 'was', and 'always will be'. You know?"

"You're saying that relative to this thing, both Andromeda and Earth would be at the same time and place?"

"It's possible; if it's everywhere."

"And if it's 'nowhere' then neither Andromeda nor Earth are here."

"Then where are we; now?"

"We're on both Andromeda and Earth at the same time."

"So all we need is a powerful enough telescope and we can watch the dinosaurs."

"Okay, stop it you two." Grandma protested. "Now you're just being silly."

"But I can see you've been thinking about this haven't you." Grandma continued.

"It's Grandpa's fault."

"I bet it is."

Grandpa said; "Well, even if there is such a thing, what does it matter to us? If it is outside our physical universe then how do we -- who exist within this universe -- use it?"

"Use it -- nothing, " Complained Grandma, "how do we even detect it? Isn't that the first challenge?"

Red sat up, crossed her legs and looked at her grandparents. "You said it yourself, Grandpa. We detect it with our minds. It is what our thoughts are made of. We move around within it with our imagination. We can't see it with our eyes. We can't feel it with any of our other senses because our senses are made of this universe. "

"That's right. Our senses are given to us - or have evolved - to enable us to survive in this physical universe." Grandpa agreed. "If we didn't have them we wouldn't survive to reproduce and our species would have gone extinct long ago."

"I don't agree. " Grandma turned over and rested her chin on her hands and looked at Red. "Our thoughts and ideas are just manipulations of images, sounds; memories of things we've experienced and all the things that have happened to us in the past.  Our imagination comes because our brains are not perfect recorders of events. Our brains get mixed up and these memories get rearranged in strange and sometimes novel ways."

"Okay, maybe there's that. But I'm talking about more than our brains -- our minds. I'm talking about our hearts; not the blood pumpers but the place we hold our love and hate and -- well -- our soul. "

"So, " Grandpa asked, "you think our souls are made up of the stuff -- whatever it is -- that was here before our universe was formed?"

"Yeah," Red agreed.

"It doesn't exist in time or space as we know them?"

"Right."

"And it has no mass or energy?"

"Right. "Red agreed. "At least not as we know them, necessarily."

"So it's nowhere and everywhere at the same time?"

"I guess so."

Grandma sat up and looked at Red. "It sounds like you're talking about 'God'." She said softly.

"Okay." Red said. "Maybe so - in a way."

Grandpa said. "Maybe we call it 'God' because we need some way of making it real. Some way to give it substance so we can talk about it when there is no other way to explain it in terms of anything we see or even understand."

"But we know that it's there, even if we can't prove it." Red said.

"That's an interesting idea." Grandma agreed. "Give it physical characteristics so that we can talk about it. Kind of like the ultimate 'elephant in the room'. "

"A big elephant. "; Red laughed.

"This is the biggest elephant." Grandma said.

Grandpa was still lying his back and looking at the stars. "Okay ladies, that's all well and good but how does this get us any closer to seeing the dinosaurs?"

"It doesn't I guess, but don't you always say that the first step in finding a solution is to define the problem."

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Jack Pynesapp and Red

"You've got to jump off the cliff all the time, and build your wings on the way down. " - Ray Bradbury 

Stars

Red Pynesapp's real name is Andrea but everyone calls her Red. Maybe it's because of her hair -- not really red but more a strawberry blond - or maybe because of her last name; Pynesapp. Her Grandfather and her Father are both named Jack (you know like Jack Pine) and someone may have thought it cute to have a 'Red Pine' in the family. Or maybe it was just because of her hair.

 Red lives in Mayville with her parents; Jack Jr. and Gwen. She is an only child (so far) but she spends a lot of time with her Grandfather who is going through a second childhood (his wife; Marge says that he's still in his first childhood).

Red is about to enter 8th grade in Mayville Middle School -- "Go Hornets". She loves to run and jump and pretty much do anything outside so it makes sense that she play soccer for the Jr. Hornets. But it is summer vacation and right now she is lying on her back on a blanket in her Grandparent's back yard next to Grandpa Jack and Grandma Marge. It's 10:15 PM and completely dark except for the light from the billions of starts that fill the night sky.

Red breaks the silence; "Can you believe that some of those 'stars' are really whole galaxies?"

"I've heard that but it's still hard to believe." Marge said. "Do you know which ones?"

"Not really." Red admitted.

"There's the Andromeda Galaxy." Grandpa said.

"It figures you'd know." Grandma scoffed. 

"Do you know which one it is?" Red asked.

"No, I don't think you can see it this time of year - not till later in the season."

"It's funny, " Red said, "a whole galaxy of stars that looks like just one star to us. What if someone was on a planet circling one of the suns in that galaxy and they were laying on a blanket right now and looking at the 'star' that is really our whole galaxy."

"Right now?" Grandpa asked.

"Yeah I know, " Red laughed, "not right now. They would be seeing how we looked millions of years ago."

Red has always been interested in astronomy -- well, science in general. She is not afraid to ask stupid questions and say stupid things and she and her grandparents spend long hours debating things like time and space. 

"It's only time."; Grandpa laughed.

"But time separates everything."; Grandma added.

"But so does space." Red said.

"But space isn't absolute, " Grandma said, "you can move through space. Time, on the other hand, is fixed. Time is unforgiving. Time is the irresistible. Time is permanent."

"I don't think Einstein said that time was fixed - did he?" Red asked. "It just seems fixed. It's actually tied to space and energy and mass. They're all tied together in his big theory of relativity."

"Okay, point taken." Grandma smiled. 

Jack said; "You know, time is all those things but it's not impermeable."

"What?"

"I mean, it's not impenetrable. I don't mean that you can move through it physically. But you can still move through it mentally. With your memory and with your imagination. "

"Come on Grandpa, "Red scoffed, "Be serious."

"Maybe so, " Marge said, "but what good is that?  Like you say,  you can't move through it to any place you haven't been - really. You can't learn anything new.  You can't visit someplace you haven't been or someplace you cannot go to. Remember Einstein? Time and space are irrevocable linked. "

"Imagination?" Jack protested. "Imagination isn't governed by these laws. Imagination isn't limited by space, energy, or the speed of light. It's instantaneous. It can move at the speed of thought."

"Imagination is just you guessing about what something might be like. Or might have been like in another time. It has no direct link with reality."

"Really? How bout the Wright brothers? They imagined that humans could fly and now humans fly."

"They didn't see the future, they changed the future."

"What's the difference?"

"I thought we were talking about moving through time."

"Yeah, Grandpa. That works (maybe) when you're talking about the future but what about the past. What if you want to go back before memory? Like before recorded history, I mean like back to the age of the dinosaurs."

"You said it yourself, Red." Grandpa said, "That person laying on their back in the Andromeda Galaxy is seeing our world with dinosaurs roaming right now, this instant."

"Yeah, but that's them. I'm talking about us, Grandpa. How do we see those dinosaurs - right now."

"Yes, Grandpa." Marge smiled, "how do we do that?"

"You said that we can move through space, right? Well we just move to where those guys are lying and look up."

"Grandpa, now you're being silly."  Red laughed.

"Don't forget Einstein, Jack - dear. Don't forget that time and space are linked. It would take time us to reach the Andromeda Galaxy; a huge amount of time, and by then we'd just be looking back at ourselves, lying here on the grass."

"Hmm." Jack said.

"Hmm" Red sighed.

Marge smiled and the three of them lay in silence and looked up at the stars.

"Grandma," Red said finally, "what if we didn't have to move through space to get to Andromeda?

"What?"

"I mean, then we wouldn't be limited by energy and mass and time and space or any of these physical laws."

"How do you propose to do that?" 

"Like I was saying, " Grandpa interrupted, " using our imagination. "

"Well no, not exactly Grandpa." Red said. "I mean what if we were there right now; the three of us, laying on a blanked at night, looking up in the sky. With a really powerful telescope (you know we'd have to have a really powerful telescope in order to see the dinosaurs that would be here.)"

"So you're saying that we're there and we're here right now; this instant." Grandma asked.

"Yes."

"We'd have to be two places at the same time." Grandpa said.

"Yes, at least two." Red said.

"Yes, " Grandpa asked, "why stop at two. Why stop at anything? We could be everywhere at once."

"Sort of like God?" Grandma said. "We'd be omnipresent."

"I guess so." Red said softly.

"Well, " Grandpa said gaily, "if God can do it, I guess it can be done."

"But not by us." Grandma scolded. "We're not God, Jack. Shame on you for suggesting it."

"You're right, Marge." Grandpa admitted. "Let's get real here, shall we."

"Us?" Marge scoffed, "Reality? You're kidding, right?"

"Yeah Grandpa, you're no fun."

"Ok, okay, " Grandpa laughed, "so Red, how do you propose we -- non-Gods -- might pull off this feat of magic."

To be continued.