Saturday, December 02, 2006
Panspermia- the theory that life on earth was seeded from space - finds support from the discovery of hollow spheres in meteorites. These could have rained organic molecules on to the surface and got the whole show on the road. In fact, panspermia does not seem to explain very much, but it's a theory of which I have always been fond. To my mind, it implies that we are the alien invaders of earth, which is exactly what it feels like early in the morning on the Norfolk saltmarshes. Meanwhile, the final superconducting magnet has been delivered to the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva. In about a year this machine will start smashing particles into each other in an attempt to decipher the physics of the Big Bang. American interest in big physics seems to have declined and Europe is now in the lead. The pictures of the LHC are thrilling, not least because I - not being a physicist - don't really know what it is for. I am not convinced anybody does. This gives it the mad, heroic uselessness of one of the great Gothic cathedrals. The builders of the cathedral at Seville, the biggest Gothic church in the world, said they were doing it so that men would think they were mad. It is nice to think that something truly, magnificently mad is being done in Geneva of all places. All of which is to say that theology is, contrary to some reports, not dead. It lives on in the imaginations of the physicists and cosmologists, our contemporary cathedral builders and watchers of the heavens.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 6:46 am