Thursday, May 24, 2007
There will come a time, it seems, when he expansion of the cosmos will put all the stars, galaxies, alien battlecruisers etc out of sight. Future humans, says a theoretical physicist (Is it my imagination or are they suddenly on the increase?), 'will be stuck in an endless black void.' No change there then. They will feel 'very special'. Again no change. 'Our tiny cluster of galaxies will be the observable universe to them.' They will also look back on our cosmologists as superstitious fools who saw vast non-existent starfields, black holes and all sorts of other implausible exotica. Contemporary vanity is concealed in this story. The physicist wonders if these future scientist will discover relativity and, indeed, the expanding universe. It does not occur to him that perhaps we are in the same position. We may be deluded by the cosmos we see. Perhaps once it was entirely different and displayed no evidence of relativity, quantum theory, expansion or any of the other phenomena of which we are so proud. Perhaps once it made sense.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 5:48 am