maybe it isn’t an obvious marriage that science and creativity would fold so neatly into each other but for me, they absolutely do. i can see how one could think science a technical and mathematical thing but those boundaries of science, those gargantuan and miniscule parameters, have within them the stuff that day dreams are made of.
when i think about space and time and atoms and mass and how nothing is destroyed, only transformed, my mind boards the express train through the lush and vast grasslands of my imagination knowing everything is eternal and metamorphic.
i read about einstein this morning and how he’d conjured up his theory of relativity without help or reference or even very much in the way of mathematical equation work and i was so moved by this prospect that a man could, essentially alone, dream up a scientific theory. science from imagination.
on my walk to work i wondered how it should be possible for me to feel connected to a scientist who’s been dead for 60 years but then i remembered that nothing is destroyed and smiled at the notion that einstein’s particles were perhaps floating by me, riding swiftly on some westward breeze.
bill bryson says that if our solar system was drawn to scale and the earth was represented by a sphere the size of a pea, then pluto would have to be drawn a mile and a half away. and our solar system is just one of billions within our galaxy. and our galaxy is just one of billions in the known universe.
there is a formula that scientists use to determine the probability of life on other planets. starting with the estimated number of planets in the known universe they divide by the number of planets that could facilitate life, then divide further by the number of planets that could facilitate intelligent life and the answer is a number of potential, intelligent, live giving planets in the TRILLIONS.
that isn’t even the most amazing part.
the space between all these trillions of things is staggering. in fact there is more SPACE in space than anything else so even if there was life (which of course there must be) and even if you travelled at the speed of light for millions of years (and didn’t stop for bathroom breaks) you would only see less than 1% of these planets. you just can’t grasp that kind of size. or the kind of time it would take to move across it.
even more fascinating than the number of galaxies and the size of the universe, is our place within it. at once we are so insignificant and complex. we come with such a range of emotions and interests and talents and beliefs despite our almost non-existence in universal terms. we feel so intensely. we dream so mightily. we struggle so heartily with things that ultimately, universally, don’t matter.
and we do it as though there is no nobler mission. for on earth it would seem, there isn’t.