Monday, April 11, 2011

Masters of the Universe

"Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another." - Albert Einstein

When I think of all the energy released after splitting a single atom, I think of all the atoms in the Universe - and that's a whole heck of a lot of energy. Our Universe has mass and energy: Einstein's equation E = mc2 indicates that energy always exhibits mass in whatever form the energy takes. This mass–energy equivalence does not imply that mass may be "converted" to energy, and indeed implies the opposite. Modern theory holds that neither mass nor energy may be destroyed, but only moved from one location to another. Mass and energy are both conserved separately in special relativity, and neither may be created or destroyed.

If you could see the big picture, you might understand the Big Bang. Physics gave mankind a whole bunch of indecipherable numbers, equations, and theories that, in reality, are humanly incomprehensible. One has to personally experience something to have some measure to give a complete and understandable description.

As an example: 93 million miles away from Earth the core of our Sun burns at 27 million degrees Fahrenheit. How hot is that? What is the hottest temperature in the Universe? As hot as Hell? Among physicists there is no agreed-upon value for a maximum possible temperature. Under our current best-guess of a complete theory of physics, the maximum possible temperature is the Planck temperature, or 1.41679 x 1032 Kelvins (whatever that is).

By contrast, the Earth's highest recorded temperature to date is 136° Fahrenheit. The lowest temperature was -129° Fahrenheit. On Earth (on average) water boils at 212 degrees and freezes at 32 degrees...THAT is stuff we can understand because we have burned our finger and drank iced tea - and we're familiar with our weather - so we have these personal experiences to form some measure of enlightenment.

A light year is a measure of distance a particle of light will travel through a pure vacuum within one Earth-year. This distance is approximately 5.9 trillion miles. We couldn't possibly imagine how far that is, but we might walk a mile for a Camel...because we know that's about equal to one city block.

Earth's nearest star is Alpha Centauri B (Proxima Centauri) and is about 4.37 light years away, or 25.6 trillion miles. When we look into a telescope to observe this star with our eyes, we are looking into the past...the light we see was emitted from that star 4.37 years ago. The temperature of deep space between Earth and this star is -454° Fahrenheit (Absolute Zero is −459.67°). That's somewhat colder than an average ice cube.

And Alpha Centauri is our NEAREST observable star (or extra-terrestrial Sun) outside our own little solar system, which resides in the Milky Way galaxy. Our galaxy has a diameter of 100,000 light years across (or 590,000 trillion miles wide) and contains anywhere between 100 and 400 billion other stars - and an estimated 50 billion planets, 500 million of which could be located in the habitable zone of their parent star.

Could there be ancients aliens (or futuristic ones) anywhere in space-time? Could other forms of primitive humans have already evolved here, or somewhere else? After all, Dinosaurs only first existed 230 million years ago before they went extinct 65 million years ago...just a blink of an eye in our Universe's existence. And the Neanderthals lasted for less than a nanosecond. Our life-spans are infinitely too short to measure by comparison when you look at the big picture.

The Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy is classified as an irregular galaxy and is now thought to be the closest neighboring galaxy to our location in the Milky Way, about 25,000 light years away from our Solar System (or 147,500 trillion miles away from us.)

The Andromeda Galaxy is the nearest spiral galaxy and is approximately 2.5 million light-years away (or 14,750,000 trillion miles away). Way to far away to hitch-hike; we'd need a "time machine" to warp space-time to get there in a human life-time.

The diameter of our observable Universe is estimated to be about 93 billion light years across and is about 13.75 billion years old - and it's still expanding at an ever increasing rate.

The multi-verse (or meta-universe, meta-verse) is the hypothetical set of multiple possible universes (including the historical universe we consistently experience) that together comprise everything that exists: the entirety of space, time, matter, and energy as well as the physical laws and constants that describe them. If there is more than one Universe, only God could comprehend its existence - humans can only theorize.

In 1916, while living as a poor man with his wife in a one-room flat in Berlin, Albert Einstein had published his general theory of relativity.

For us to fully understand all of his incomprehensible knowledge is almost impossible, but it does make one thing perfectly clear to me. In the grand scheme of things I do understand this: When you look at the big picture, the richest people among us here on planet Earth (in terms of monetary wealth) are just mere insignificant beings (not to mention my ex-boss). And just like me, they all have a life expectancy of  only 78.3 Earth-years. The biggest difference between them and me is, I can enter Heaven.

So in conclusion, when I put everything into perspective, it's important that I remind myself that rich old men aren't the Masters of the Universe, they don't rule the Heavens...and it doesn't take a genius to figure that out. But unfortunately for me, they do rule my world.

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