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3.03.2012

You Are the 1% (When Viewed on the Scale of the Entire Universe)

The universe is far crazier than any religion could ever imagine.

It is no wonder people turn to simplistic mythologies for answers. Much easier on the brain.

But the universe is way more potent and creative than any finite religious "definition" of God could predict.

And it doesn't even require any intelligence or design. Those things are PRODUCTS of the awesomeness of quantum physics.

The scientific evidence to date suggests that the entire visible universe (and by visible, I mean everything we can detect with our scientific instruments here on earth, including our eyeballs) represents only 1% of the matter and energy actually comprising the universe.

That means on the scale of the entire universe, YOU are in the 1%. Doesn't that make you feel special?

Now the bad news... The mathematics of quantum mechanics suggests our visible "universe," including you and I and everyone and the planet and the solar system and galaxy, and every other galaxy, is actually insignificant, and the future is no more optimistic. Some few trillion years from now, the universe will "disappear."

Oh, it will still be there. But no one will be able to see it or visit it anymore, because it will be expanding away from us at faster than the speed of light. All our descendents will see, assuming they are still restricted by the laws of physics, is their own galaxy (whatever galaxy they have managed to migrate to by then). This is because gravity acts locally on small scales, holding galaxies together, but the invisible matter and energy of the universe between galaxies (in empty space) actually acts as ANTI-gravity, repelling galaxies apart faster and faster.

Leave it to scientists to kill your buzz and bring everyone down. But you can embrace your insignificance and actually bring some meaning to your own LOCAL insignificant part of the cosmos, if you understand the reality of the situation. Enjoy it while you can, because it is really quite amazing.

99% of the matter and energy of the universe is NOTHING. Literally nothing. We know from studying subatomic particles in nuclear accelerators that matter and energy are appearing and disappearing all the time, without violating any physical laws. We can "see" these particles briefly when particles are collided at close to the speed of light in nuclear accelerators.

When a particle appears, it's anti-particle also appears, and both particles annihilate each other in a fraction of time that does not violate any physical laws. Scientists theorize this from the evidence in particle accelerators, but it holds up in nature too. Empirically, this can be observed by examining black holes.

At the event horizon of a black hole, this quantum manifestation of particles is happening just like it happens everywhere else (even all around you right now). However, the black hole provides a unique opportunity to observe particle physics in action. When the particle and anti-particle pop into existence right at the event horizon, one of the particles crosses the event horizon and cannot escape to rejoin its partner. The other particle, which would normally annihilate its anti-particle by recombining with it, now has a dilemma. It can't violate the laws of physics by remaining in existence beyond its very very short normal lifespan. So it become energy instead.

Sure enough, when observed, black holes give off phenomenal amounts of high energy x-rays. Black holes are not really black. They are quite bright when viewed in other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. The energy given off is a product of quantum fluctuations at the edge of the black hole.

Throughout the entire universe, particles and energy are being created and destroyed on microscopic quantum scales EVERYWHERE. At any one point in space, this basically looks to you and I like NOTHING. We can't observe spontaneous matter/energy creation without particle accelerators and black holes. When we observe these particles in accelerators, we have to use massive quantities of energy to create them. When these particles manifest next to black holes, massive amounts of energy are produced.

Taken on the aggregate level of the entire universe, at any given moment in time, there is a massive amount of matter/energy very briefly in existence. A moment later, all that matter/energy has disappeared again, but it has been replaced by an equally massive amount of instantaneous matter/energy. And so on and so forth forever.

So NOTHING is basically almost everything, on the scale of the universe. In fact, it's 99% of the matter/energy in the universe. We just can't ever detect it locally without scientific instruments and a lot of energy input. This is why it is referred to as "dark" matter/energy. It's "invisible" to us most of the time, looking a lot like NOTHING.

The universe is simultaneously mostly nothing and mostly something. In fact, it is mostly everything we can't see or detect. Even more importantly, as long as there is nothing, there will always be something (aka, a universe). So that's good to know.

Have a good day.

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