Monday, February 19, 2007

Order and chaos

In recent weeks, I’ve been contemplating about exploring new careers. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but what about going back to school and working toward becoming a scientist? I’ve always been intrigued by the mysteries of our universe, by stars and planets and other celestial phenomena; however, I also think that perhaps I should leave those to my imagination. I do not want to lose my sense of wonder, which sometimes happens when I find out the answers to my questions. The magic disappears, and I’m left crumpled in a heap of logic.

The last phase of a Sun-like star is a black dwarf. It takes so long for a white dwarf to develop into a black dwarf that scientists speculate that there might not be any black dwarves in existence in our universe. This means that our universe might be too young. That idea is just mind-boggling to me. I’ve always thought of infinity as stretching into both the past and the future. What happened before matter existed? What happened before time existed? There couldn’t have been a “before” if there had been no time, could there?

And then, there are black holes, where the gravitational pull is so immense that not even light could radiate through. They are not holes at all, but are the densest of celestial bodies. One teaspoon of matter from a black hole could potentially be hundreds of thousands of tonnes in mass. My earthly mind just cannot fathom that concept, try as I might to imagine it in my mind’s eye.

I feel so small, so random. In theory, black dwarves cannot even be detected by our modern technology unless they are part of a binary stars system. And the pairing of stars appears random to scientists. So, how much of our universe is actually ordered, and how much of it is random? Our perception of order and chaos is imperfect at best. There might be some order in what we perceive as chaos, but our human limitations cannot solve the pattern.

This afternoon, I saw a rainbow beyond the shed. It’s the second time I’ve seen a rainbow there. Perhaps there is order, a pattern developing here, and I’m witness to it. At the very least, there’s a pattern in my joy at seeing said rainbow. And I don’t need to be a scientist to figure that one out.

1 comment:

  1. What is a Physics whiz doing teaching way up in the arctic? Or, what is a poet doing marking papers instead of writing? In any case, I don't think you have to worry about being left "crumpled in a heap of logic." You'll never lose that magic.