It's human, and perfectly sensible, to expect things to change and mature toward some kind of climax -- as everything in nature eventually does. The evolution of living creatures -- of everything, actually -- always consists of a beginning, a middle, and presumably, an end (unless Darwinism is not your thing). The only limitation in recognizing this fact is time. A lot of it. It can take thousands, millions, even billions of years for this progression to complete itself. And since total destruction of the universe has not yet happened, most of creation is still in the middle stage. But that doesn't stop us from contemplating, expecting, prophesying, praying for, etc., "The End." After all, we are sensationalists at heart, and nothing is more sensational than a good, fiery, climactic ending.
People write and talk about the Mayan calendar, melting ice caps, pollution, the cloning of human beings, God's wrath, terrorists playing with nuclear weapons, a killer virus, and all kinds of other possible causes of total destruction. And who knows, any of these things have the potential to deliver "The End." (Whether or not Darwinism is your thing makes no difference.) For some reason, many of us are sensing a climax looming just over the horizon. Including me. But I am sensing the approach of a slightly different ending. I am sensing the end of -- drum roll, please -- "ignorance."
Let's start from the beginning.
It all began with the Big Bang -- or so they claim. I have some trouble with this statement, even if it is a rather popular one. First though, a disclaimer. I am not a physicist. I am not even a scientist. At best, I can claim that I am a pseudo-scientist, which doesn't carry much weight by any standard. I am however, a creative, unapologetic daydreamer. If there is one thing I can point to as my "specialty," it would be daydreaming. I can contemplate the pants off any subject. And I can highly recommend it as a recreational activity, it's extremely enjoyable! Disclaimer done, let's start over:
"It all began with a hot and fiery mass, the size of a tennis ball, and so dense it weighed a trillion times a trillion tons, and then some. And it exploded with a Big Bang!" Okay, so that obviously can't be. "It all began with..." is an oxymoron, as "with" indicates something already existed. The correct phrase would be: "It all began..." Of course, that would also be the end of it, since there wouldn't be any "with" to begin with. Oh boy, this is really confusing. And worse, my daydreaming just came to a dead end. Not to worry, we can just go at it from a different direction:
"It all ended with a universe trillions of light years in diameter -- but still a hair short of infinite -- expanding faster than the speed of light, when a huge implosion contracted it back to the size of a hot and fiery tennis ball, in less than a nanosecond." Okay, so that can't be true either. Again, I am bumping my head against an oxymoron. Because if there is still something left it isn't really the end, is it?
Fortunately, we have recently received some new information that one day may offer insight regarding this puzzle. For this, we have to thank a piece of equipment so big, it would take a person walking an average of 5 miles an hour 3 hours and 40 minutes to walk around it. (And that person would be crossing the Swiss-French border twice). It's called the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). (For those of you who are passionate American patriots, a similar collider, named the Superconducting Super Collider (SSC) was once proposed for Waxahachie, Texas. It was cancelled in 1993, after spending a couple billion bucks, by a congress that thought that, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the USA no longer needed to prove it's supremacy in science to anyone. If I may be so blunt, it was a stupendously stupid decision indeed, but let me not get sidetracked by the stupidity of politicians). Now, to refocus my daydreaming on the creation and eventual destruction of our universe.
Based on work performed by people with access to that Swiss-French super collider, we are now close to actually proving the existence of Higgs boson. Ain't that something! Decades after Peter Higgs (still alive), and a few other scientists proposed its existence, we are getting close to actually seeing the darn particle. (It's nicknamed "the God Particle," mostly to get the rest of the human race as excited as the physicists who came up with the whole concept.)
What it all means, in a nutshell, is this:
It basically explains how energy turns into elementary particles, or something to that effect. Let's just call it "the origin of the origin." All of this means absolutely nothing to me. It's far beyond the capabilities of my poor little brain. But that's okay, because what physicists don't realize is that philosophers are basically physicists who have found a shortcut to answering those kinds of questions ... and a few that haven't been asked yet. And as a trained daydreamer, I can jump into the field of philosophy without so much as taking a deep breath. So, off we go.
When I was but a kid, a thousand years ago, I had a teacher who was gung-ho on particles. The smaller the better. He would explain how they spun faster than you can imagine, broke down and reassembled elsewhere across space without wasting even a fraction of a nanosecond. How they influenced each other's behavior over long distances instantly. How they could be in two places at the same time and, wonder of wonders, could be both a particle and/or a wave. This guy could talk forever about all kinds of strange magic, and I loved it. Still do, in fact. Even if I never really understood much of it.
One day, when this teacher was talking about particles and waves, and wave particles, and I was lost in my daydreams, I woke up and raised my hand. When I got permission to speak (in those days you needed permission), I said that in my opinion it was obvious that physicists were looking in the wrong direction. "It's not about particles," I said, "it's about the space between the particles." And I collapsed right back into my daydreams.
Now, it seems that statement, rightfully denied and ridiculed by my teacher, since I just grabbed it out of thin air, appears to be on the cusp of being vindicated ... thanks to Higgs boson, Higgs Field, an obese piece of machinery, and whatever else they are messing with over there in Europe. But while smart people in white coats are busy discovering the origin of the origin, I'll jump ahead and explain why I think that the end will not be forthcoming, ever. Only ignorance is on the block. And perhaps the world of matter -- but that won't matter anymore.
The answer is all around you.