“Books on physics are full of complicated mathematical formulas, but thought and ideas are the beginning of every physical theory.”
– Albert Einstein
The Standard Model of particle physics did not predict the existence of the dark matter that constitutes the overwhelming majority of matter in the cosmos. The Standard Model describes heuristically the “foam on top of the ocean”.
– Robert L. Oldershaw an independent researcher in the field of cosmology affiliated with Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts
As the chronology of the previous year slowly winds down, and the chronology of the New Year approaches, I generally find myself reflective in a way that normally escapes detection throughout the course of the year as it unfolds. It’s not that I avoid being reflective during the year as a rule, it’s just that we mark the passage of time…well…chronologically, and as one year ends another begins. The passage of linear time is a convenient way of tracking our progress and measuring ourselves against some sort of constant, so it helps us be grounded in some ways and there’s nothing wrong with that.
I’m not obsessed by the idea, but just imagine if we simply considered every single day as just…today. No yesterday, no tomorrow, no last year or next year, just…every single day is today and that’s it. You wake up in the morning or whenever you wake up and whatever day it is…that’s what day it is.
Sounds almost absurd doesn’t it? How can we know how old we are or how to get anything done or plan for the future and blah, blah, blah…right? Of course, you’re right. That’s ridiculous. Well…I hate to break it to you…but that is exactly what we are up against in this universe of ours. Take whatever you want with you and blast off into outer space on a rocket ship with every convenience and infinite supplies of whatever you need to live onboard, and once you get far enough away, there is no day or night, no monthly cycles, no year, no nothing. Every minute you exist you simply exist.
We have built in rhythms which serve to regulate being awake and asleep for the purpose of data processing in the brain, but they are normally regulated by the amount of darkness and light generated by the rotation of the earth, and numerous experiments on humans born on earth show a fairly predictable circadian rhythm pattern. Since none of us has ever been born NOT on earth and raised NOT on earth, it’s not all that surprising that we follow the rhythms of the earth for the most part. The exceptions experienced by shift workers and folks who just plain can’t sleep normally show the rule.
Almost all of our thinking and contemplation and ruminations are engaged in a finite realm of our temporal existence as earthbound beings, and in a completely reasonable and natural manner, most of our thoughts are influenced by the temporal boundaries of life on earth. Even with the advent of amazing technologies which allow communication with the billions of individuals at just about any location on the planet, and now even with folks who are in orbit around the earth or with our emissaries to the cosmos in the exploratory spacecraft sent out into the solar system and beyond, we still have the need to look beyond the limits of earth, the solar system, the galaxy, and out into the vast expanses of the universe.
For centuries, this expansive sort of thinking and contemplation required far greater imagination and insight and creativity to conjure what might exist over the crest of the next hill, on the other side of the mountains, beyond the horizon, across the ocean, or out into the cosmic ether. At this critical juncture of human existence, our instruments of observation of beyond our world like the Hubble Space Telescope, and within the deepest recesses of matter itself like the Large Hadron Collider, while truly fascinating and wondrous in their reach into their respective domains, seem to me to be reaching a sort of threshold…”the foam on top of the ocean”…where all we will have left is what we started out with in the first place…contemplation of what lies beyond those boundaries.
One of the most compelling reasons I think I have invested and continue to invest so much of my contemplation and commiseration with the ineffable aspects of existence in general and consciousness specifically is the sense I have always had that none of the rest of it, as wondrous as it may be, contains the resolution of my deepest longings. Much to the chagrin of many of those with whom I have shared conversation on the subject, I simply cannot accept that my most powerful inclinations toward the subject are not an indication of a path that must exist to reach the heart of my longings.
As my first anniversary of blogging here at WordPress approaches, I sense a surge not only within myself, but within the world itself, revealed in the amazingly vibrant and profoundly living, breathing world of human consciousness within me and all around me. The wonderful sharing and sense of community and fellow travelers here at WordPress inspire me and reassure me that the path is out there somewhere.
Thanks to all those who are sharing this journey with me, and I look very much forward to growing and expanding and sharing with you all in the year to come…full of an endless supply of today…whatever day it is…….John H.
5 thoughts on “The Foam on Top of the Ocean”
Thanks for saying so! I’m glad you took the time to visit here and hope to hear from you on some of the future “todays.” I spent some time reading your blog this morning and enjoyed my visit very much. You have a great outlook and it’s so reassuring to see a young person thinking about these ideas. Let’s talk some more!
John, I am glad you are feeling inspired, and you are passing this inspiration on to us. Peace in the new year. pj
Thanks for your inspiring note! Conversing with you and participating in our exchanges has truly been one of the more inspiring experiences here for me this past year. I hope you plan to continue tormenting me next year as well, as I’m sure an even greater fondness awaits.
In addition to Peace in the New Year, which may be the most pressing need we have in the world today, I would like to add my hope for the addition of many more open hearts and open minds to the variety of voices of such, present here at WordPress.com.
Your patience, grace, and kindness, is a gift of great value to me.
Warm regards…..John H.
It’s clear that our conception of time (in the sense of the 24 hours it takes for the earth to rotate) is an artificial construct, as is the 365 days it generally takes for the earth to revolve once around the sun. We measure these phenomena in this manner as a means of organizing and balancing our experience of the world. Dividing the rotation into 24 identical and contiguous units of measurement helps us to organize our existence into some sort of coherent arrangement.
According to systems thinking, “…system behavior results from the effects of reinforcing and balancing processes. A reinforcing process leads to the increase of some system component. If reinforcement is unchecked by a balancing process, it eventually leads to collapse. A balancing process is one that tends to maintain equilibrium in a particular system.”
Critical thinking is “…the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.”
Measuring the vast distances between galaxies and the like that scientific thinking has generated in terms of “light years,” which is the amount of artificial units (years) it takes light to travel across them, is simply a way of creating a point of reference for measuring and conceiving of such enormous distances.
We employ all sorts of methods of thinking to gain a coherent foothold on our universe and time is simply one more way of doing that. Thanks for your thoughtful response.