Archive for cosmology

Bowerbird #30: Soft Robot Dope Magnet

Posted in Bowerbird, poetry, the universe will wreck you with tags , , , , , , , , on 12/19/2011 by alex c

We can’t help but think about what other people are thinking about. It seems the more boring our lives become, the more we seek the flat yet palpable experience of film. The fact is: We won’t free ourselves from a dysfunctional and unfair economic order until we begin to see ourselves as communities, not commodities. If one embraces an atheist worldview, it necessarily requires embracing, even celebrating, one’s insignificance. Independent thought, originality, has to be its own reward, because normative history offers revolutionaries the reward of oblivion or villainy. Our distant ancestors were explorers and inventors, and we owe it to them to continue their legacy, not wallow in the mundane minutia of post-industrial life, trapped under the heel of bureaucrats bereft of any vision or sense of wonder. So often we wake up at 25 and realize ‘adults’ really have no idea what they are doing, no matter how confident they seem when preaching tenuously built ideologies which seem infallible to a child and dull their willingness to be awed and inspired by the discoveries of science. It’s just the idea of the thing that puts people off. A lot of people thought the sense of self was hard-wired, but it’s not at all. Even with a map, some people manage to get lost. Nature generally goes for the simplest and most robust solution. We’re still scanning the skies, and may yet see another event like this.

Bowerbird #26: Accelerating Universe Static Cling

Posted in Bowerbird, poetry, the universe will wreck you with tags , , , , , , , , on 10/19/2011 by alex c

We don’t call the rainbow the red spectrum. The truth is much, much more complex, and in my view, interesting. When we look far away, we are looking into the past, and that past doesn’t stretch forever. If you go to an abandoned orchard and lie on your stomach under a tree for a week, watching which insects land on a peach and move to another one you will know more about this fungus than anyone in the world. Put another way, the more we learn, the more we realize there is to know, and the more we have to go back and revise our earlier understandings.

So really, if you think about it, we are the result of the Universe’s laws made incarnate, evolved to the point where we can study ourselves. This is the definition of self-loathing. Without an obvious outside reward you create an internal one. We need questions. The envelope is continually being pushed, and in some cases, ripped to shreds. Everything counts and everything belongs to a poet, belongs in a poem. I never know what I’m talking about. At the end of the day you just have to follow your heart, even as cheesy as that sounds.

Bowerbird #25: Upper Peninsula Spirit Quest

Posted in Bowerbird, music, poetry, the universe will wreck you with tags , , , , , , , , on 10/12/2011 by alex c

Even in the vast astronomical distances between stars, something lurks. Galaxies are moving away from us at an accelerating rate. On the face of it, this makes no sense. Clearly, there’s a lot left to figure out here. Nature’s been at it awhile, too. Natural navigation may be just what you need. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine convincing a people to go to war for the sake of beauty. There is certainly a great deal of structural variability between individuals, and that’s compounded by structural changes that go on across the lifespan. What is there to say in the face of color, a visual phenomenon that so often seems to elude linguistic expression? We’re not composing sterile, advanced exercises. These statements are getting progressively drunker. The trick is to give the brain information that it can use in an intuitive way. Education is the wisdom wrung from failure. Our lives are filled with loops that hurt us, heal us, make us laugh, and, sometimes, leave us wanting more. There is something boring and obvious in this sociological calculus. The more we try to avoid screwing up when stressed, the more likely it becomes. We just didn’t get the joke until relatively recently.

Bowerbird #22: Black Tie Gourmet Society

Posted in Bowerbird, music, poetry, the universe will wreck you with tags , , , , , , , , on 09/23/2011 by alex c

The novelist and the cosmologist are ultimately engaged in similar pursuits. Their offices are dinner tables, back patios, and basements. They branch out and do not stop branching out. In other words, they are not blind to their condition. So right away we need to treat this claim with lots and lots of skepticism. Some people are going to be very unhappy. The truth is that we don’t understand the relationship between belief and biology quite as well as we’d like to think. The music takes you to places no human eye has seen, where worlds collapse unto themselves and collide on other worlds. Maths in nature is truly a beautiful thing, but unfortunately some people seem intent on embellishing that beauty. If you are measuring something incorrectly, it doesn’t matter that you measure it very carefully. Again, this is a process that definitely takes time. It’s hard to get all those new cogs to mesh.

Bowerbird #13: Guitarkestra Iceburn Pareidolia

Posted in Bowerbird, poetry, the universe will wreck you with tags , , , , , , , on 08/16/2011 by alex c

The hyperauthors to come will make your ho-hum folderol part of their shimmering wax-museum canons, where information is written down, filed away, and then brought back when it’s needed (or lost in some dusty shelf). When every answer and its opposite appears equally obvious then their purpose, in these cases, may be to subdue and tranquilize rather than to treat any genuine psychosis. If we can learn to interpret these brain oscillations, it may be possible to successfully produce not a peer-reviewed paper in Science but rather a new race of subhuman killers, a sucking wormhole in space-time, or a profusion of malevolent goo. In this sense, those bridges to nowhere are a sort of benevolent inefficiency, most of the surviving examples generally consist of a pencil-thick primary cord, from which hang multiple “pendant” cords. Maybe this is a way to confirm that being human and necessarily isolated in your own body and mind is ok. If zoophiles can ejaculate into their wives only by imagining that their spouse’s vagina is actually a horse’s vulva, a man’s anus must certainly be within mind’s reach of the average married homosexual. So while his body is still technically alive, he will never wake up again. That’s ok though, you’ve gotta start somewhere. Obviously there are plenty of things we don’t understand. “Anybody who isn’t confused doesn’t know what’s going on,” he said. My urine has been tested for many things.

Bowerbird #11: Cloud Tree Om Zanka

Posted in Bowerbird, music, poetry, the universe will wreck you with tags , , , , , , , on 08/14/2011 by alex c

The more we look, the more there is to see. Everything seemed to fall into place once everything had been recorded. This realization can stultify, and, for a time, silence. We are no longer just twiddling our thumbs. But beware of how your eyes may deceive you. They power their intense luminescence by dining on the gas of other galaxies.

The side effects of all this? You see patterns that are not obvious to a computer program that does a step-by-step process. One world constantly gives way to another. A child can understand, for instance, that something might look like a tiger but actually be a lion. It’s hard to imagine a mechanism that’s going to give us a direct window to a time closer to the instant of creation. It’s like a king without a kingdom. The sense of motion frozen in time is palpable. The disappointment that followed, then, hit hard. The world had changed, and the culture with it. Then it burned itself to the ground.

Then again, a model is just a model. If we lack the right words, our mental abilities are limited in a way that extra life experience can’t fully compensate for. Once we exhaust those possibilities, we assume the problem is impossible. Anything else is creepy and unnatural. Given the difficulty of conducting research on the topic, it’s an uncertainty we may have to live (or die) with for a very long time. But some intrepid scholars have indeed tried to do so. Lots of folks are throwing numbers out. One of the issues with any kind of teamwork is assigning the right credit. So they turn away from people and turn to the world of objects. It can’t be written down as an equation. It can only end in collapse and in silence.

So actually there are two things. The difference is so infinitesimal that it might defy belief that anyone, even physicists, would care. Unless, of course, you flatter yourself into thinking that what you’re experiencing is “yearning.”

Bowerbird #10: Full Perseid Meteor Moon

Posted in Bowerbird, music, poetry, the universe will wreck you with tags , , , , , on 08/13/2011 by alex c

Like it or not, we live in a random reality. We still have no idea how life began, or whether life exists only here on our lonely planet or pervades the cosmos. Our old beliefs might be wrong, but their influence lingers on, an intellectual anchor holding us back. Four hundred years after Galileo turned his telescope on the heavens, it’s incredibly frustrating that we still have debates over whether the world can be described in purely naturalistic terms, rather than accepting that insight as an amazing accomplishment and moving on to the hard work of articulating its consequences. Continue reading

Bowerbird #9: Transparent Seas Nine Years Later

Posted in Bowerbird, music, poetry, the universe will wreck you with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 08/12/2011 by alex c

There is something else odd about this picture. Just when you think you’re getting a handle on it, you realize that you haven’t even scratched the surface. To think things are so simple is tempting, but probably erroneous. It’s a sad state of affairs but probably not an unpredictable one. This all suggests that the capacity of mental time travel is firmly grounded in physical representations of space, and that the relationship between the two is reciprocal and bi-directional. Yeah, you might want to sit for a moment and soak that in. Throw it all in the sea, and the sea’ll keep on rolling along toward shore and crashing and booming back into itself again.

Whatever exists in the infinitely small always has repercussions in the infinitely big. They can therefore be practically indistinguishable, and can oscillate back and forth between each other. At first glance, this experimental observation seems incongruous. Our minds are constantly lit up with activity as we process the barrages of stimuli coming through our senses. When you step outside, outdoors, into the wide open upness (if urbanly not side-to-side), your crazy expands immediately to fill the immense space and almost none of it is left in your head. There is something deliberate about this practice of control by the conscious.

Where did the signal come from? It can come in from space, travel though the Earth’s atmosphere, and then actually escape back into interplanetary space. It cannot be reasoned with. The particles that constitute it do not have built-in properties such as spatial position. As the core changes, that information does leak to the surface, but it takes centuries. In the process, the physical forces that govern it should become apparent.

Bowerbird #6: Tyson/Sagan Unearthly Trance

Posted in Bowerbird, poetry, the universe will wreck you with tags , , , , , , , on 08/09/2011 by alex c

There is an excitement in the air and a sense that we are beginning to understand how the brain works at the circuit level. But along the way, you have to take into account that there is stuff in between us and the farthest edges of the universe — in particular, there’s all sorts of dust here in our home galaxy. Although the putative particles should be passing like ghosts through each and every one of us all the time, a series of increasingly sensitive experiments over the last two decades has failed to reliably detect them. It’s hard to see other possibilities, other forms life can have, what other options, avenues, and paths, life could take elsewhere. Equally, it seems very clear that without robust geophysical activity a planet like the Earth would be a much less habitable place. Here we really know what we are talking about, because we have experienced the trembling and the awakening.

Bowerbird #4: Eden Hazard Arpeggiator Blast

Posted in Bowerbird, poetry, the universe will wreck you with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 08/07/2011 by alex c

A long time ago, in a universe much larger than our own, a giant star collapsed. So what does this mean for you? We have no conclusive evidence of a sense of self but you might well conclude that it is likely from our results. The problem arises when you pursue three goals at the same time. After all, the same bit of brain can only contemplate so many things at once: if we’re worrying about our performance, there’s going to be less processing power left over to deal with the actual numbers. No living person knows even a billionth of the cultural information possessed by humanity. So what use are the extraordinary technical inventions the world now has at its disposal, if the conditions are lacking to profit from them, if they add nothing to leisure, if imagination is wanting?