Dark MatterIt'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.
"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?"
"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; even if we can't feel it, see it, or touch 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."