Thursday, August 06, 2009


Reading one of blogging pal Anthony North's archived posts yesterday -linked from his entry on 5 August "Why am I Here?" I began to ponder on it, then my mind shot me to another, somewhat related, question, still far too deep for my puny intellect. The question: where is the center of the universe, are we, as the evolved lifeforms we like to consider ourselves, "it"?

The answer, at this point in space and time, seems to be "there isn't a center of the universe." So, however evolved we might consider ourselves to be, and to what purpose our development might be attributed, we're not "it".

“Every time we start thinking we're the center of the universe, the universe turns around and says with a slightly distracted air, "I'm sorry. What'd you say your name was again?"”
(Novelist Margaret Maron)

Wherever one happens to be is the center of the universe. The universe, I understand, is expanding away from any given point at any given time. When asked for a simple answer on the center of the universe, the expert will try to explain to laymen that we should think of the universe as an expanding balloon with us on its surface - and every point constantly moving further away from every other point - outwards. The obtuse Aquarian in me has to wonder what are the contents of the inside of the balloon. Never mind!


Does this invalidate astrology. No! Astrology for Earthlings is based on the interaction of cycles of certain planets around the Sun, center of our "system". Our "system", the Solar System, in turn becomes just one among many systems forming a galaxy which circles a Galactic Center. To our eyes from our vantage point the Galactic Center is located towards the end of the sector we call Sagittarius. We Earthlings exist with a certain amount of autonomy. An analogy which might pertain to the situation is this: think of a vast skyscraper building filled with many different companies and corporations. Each can function efficiently, within its own boundaries, rules and customs, but at the same time each is a part of the larger whole structure. That analogy falls down though, because the skyscraper isn't expanding, but just imagine it could! Also remember that our universe/skyscraper might not be the only one in the city..........

Taking all that into consideration, the insignificance of our existence might overwhelm us, yet we are not insignificant, because we are formed from the same material as our universe.
"I stand here on the Cosmic Uroboros, midway between the largest and smallest things in the universe. I can trace my lineage back fourteen billion years through generations of stars. My atoms were created in stars, blown out in stellar winds or massive explosions, and soared for millions of years through space to become part of a newly forming solar system — my solar system. And back before those creator stars, there was a time when the particles that at this very moment make up my body and brain were mixing in an amorphous cloud of dark matter and quarks. Intimately woven into me are billions of bits of information that had to be encoded and tested and preserved to create me. Billions of years of cosmic evolution have produced me."
From "The View from the Center of the Universe".

I stood at the Center of the Universe a couple of weeks ago. Really! In downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma there's a point, marked by a circle of tiles, on an overpass leading across railway lines. This point is known locally as "The Center of the Universe". If you stand on it and speak, or shout, your voice reverberates and echoes, but only you can hear the echo. Spooky!

All inquires carry with them some element of risk. There is no guarantee that the universe will conform to our predispositions.
(The late, great Carl Sagan.)


R Southern said...

Remember the old saying, "I think, therefore I am"? As applied to your thoughts here, I'd have to say that, for each of us, this is true: "I think I'm the center of the universe, therefore I am!"

At any rate, it's the only hypothesis that most people could accept! I think it'd be best not to mention this conversation to most of them, though--you wouldn't want to upset them.

Twilight said...

R.Southern ~~~ No - I'll keep it strictly to myself. ;-)

R J Adams said...

"If we long to believe that the stars rise and set for us, that we are the reason there is a Universe, does science do us a disservice in deflating our conceits?" ~ Carl Sagan.

Why am I here?

Who needs a 'God', or some half-baked idea of immortality. Just to be an integral part of something so breath-takingly magnificent is surely reason enough.

Wisewebwoman said...

And if we abandon the concept of 'time', 'now' is uniquely our own and expands infinitely. How wild and precious it all is, this 'now' of ours.

anthonynorth said...

Thanks for the mention :-)
We've been thinking similar again, as you'll see from my latest post. In a physical sense, I don't think a centre of the universe can be identified within the theories because it's all equations.

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~~~ Yes, indeed, RJ.
We tend to forget, in life's apparent hum-drum, what a miracle it all really is. :-)

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ So very true. :-)

Twilight said...

AnthonyNorth ~~~ And I guess we're all equations of one sort or another, struggling to decipher other equations. ;-)

I'm on my way over to read today's words of wisdom.