When someone I know rented a rototiller they tilled a few garden spaces in my yard for me. One garden, a flower garden, I have tucked in behind the spirea bushes.
In the midst of mass shootings and too many 90-degree days and droughts and fires and all the other worries that plague our lives (when we let them) it is so nice to escape once again to Gaberone, Botswana with Mma Romotswe, Mma Makutsi, and Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni and their friends and families where, although there are problems, they usually have a much more human scale than those facing us in more metropolitan environments. The newest book in this big-hearted series is called The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection and is, as usual, by Alexander McCall Smith.
I don’t know why space fascinates me. It’s scary. It’s infinitely infinite. It makes me feel like an ant. It is also so beautiful it takes your breath away and it holds out possibilities that are equally breathtaking. It makes us think deep thoughts; how did we get here, are we alone. It makes us hope there is a God.
I don’t want to go there. I do not have that gene that makes me crave edgy adventure. But I watch avidly whenever we send something or, with even more excitement, whenever we send someone, into space.
Recently physicists announced that they had finally isolated the Higgs boson. It was produced in Switzerland by colliding two protons (in the Hadron Collider). The Higgs particle decays very quickly which is why it has been, and continues to be, so elusive. To most of us the significance of this scientific discovery sounds sort of like; something, something, dark matter; blah, blah, gives matter its mass; yada, yada, the God Particle, or, as someone said, “the Godless particle” because, apparently it offers an explanation that shows a scientific basis for how the Big Bang could work without God.
Jeffrey Weiss, “The Godless Particle
Scientists have long believed that there are multiple universes. Although my mind is totally boggled by the size of one universe; I am being asked to fit my brain around the knowledge that there is more than one universe. My mind is still digesting the existence of multiple galaxies. However, intellectually I comprehend what scientists are saying. Conceptually it makes my brain hurt to try to picture it. But anyway, here’s what they had to say:
In the most recent study on pre-Big Bang science posted at arXiv.org, a team of researchers from the UK, Canada, and the US, Stephen M. Feeney, et al, have revealed that they have discovered four statistically unlikely circular patterns in the cosmic microwave background (CMB). The researchers think that these marks could be “bruises” that our universe has incurred from being bumped four times by other universes. If they turn out to be correct, it would be the first evidence that universes other than ours do exist.
The idea that there are many other universes out there is not new, as scientists have previously suggested that we live in a “multiverse” consisting of an infinite number of universes. The multiverse concept stems from the idea of eternal inflation, in which the inflationary period that our universe went through right after the Big Bang was just one of many inflationary periods that different parts of space were and are still undergoing. When one part of space undergoes one of these dramatic growth spurts, it balloons into its own universe with its own physical properties. As its name suggests, eternal inflation occurs an infinite number of times, creating an infinite number of universes, resulting in the multiverse.
These infinite universes are sometimes called bubble universes even though they are irregular-shaped, not round. The bubble universes can move around and occasionally collide with other bubble universes.
On August 5th a new Mars Rover called Curiosity will land on Mars, we hope. It will be observed by the Odyssey, an array in the sky over Mars. Odyssey was having some difficulties, but has apparently been repaired so we are still hopeful that we will be able to watch Curiosity land.
We have to say good-bye to Sally Ride who left us this week. She was the first woman in space.
I will leave you out in space with this very beautiful photo of two galaxies.
I am worried that we will grieve for Aurora, Colorado and then move on, as we do, to life as usual. It’s not that I want us to dwell on our sorrow; but I don’t want us to live in denial about this disturbing aspect of modern culture.