Saturday, July 7, 2007

Global Warming is not a Religion! Leo DiCaprio told me it was a Fact!

"We may have as little as ten years to solve the climate crisis, lest we lose the chance to do so..." --Al Gore, tonight on the Live Earth special on NBC

Yeah... I'm still on the record as skeptical, even after hearing Rosario Dawson tell me to unplug my cellphone charger every time I leave the house (or whatever). And after hearing Kelly Clarkson perform "Since You Been Gone" (that performance almost persuaded me, though--so much duende!). If we really are ten years away from destruction, democracy is proving a ridiculously ineffective means of governing. I mean, counting on a Kelly Clarkson performance to persuade voters to save their own lives?--really? Plato might've been right to scorn democracy.

Anyway, on a bigger scale: Neutron stars exist. Think of them as collapsed stars (the collapse takes way less than one second). A teaspoon of neutron-star-matter would weigh as much matter as a mountain on earth. The density is so great and the gravity is so intense that the largest "mountains" on neutron stars are at most two inches tall. Look at Rene Magritte's painting "The Voice of Space":


Without the "mouths," obviously. But perfectly round, and ~10 km in diameter. Can you imagine seeing one of these things? And if this weren't spectacular enough, they are rotating--really fast... at their equators, as fast as 1/7th the speed of light. That's some serious rotation.

And if these things collect enough mass, they may collapse into black holes. I don't have a picture to show you of a black hole because the gravity there is so intense that (you've heard this before?) even light can't escape. A finite (large) amount of matter collected into an infinitely small "point."

Sometimes I think I am a black hole, receiving impressions constantly, collapsing them into my consciousness, my infinitely small "point." I don't always know what to make of the incoming data, but I do feel confident that there is something outside of my infinitely small core sending stuff at me--something else exists, or has existed.

The universe is so huge, and quarks and atoms and electrons are so small... it seems a kind of size-prejudice to consider ourselves "medium." An infinite regress and progress in the directions of small and large from our position seems more probable to me. Which means that our whole universe may be hanging around the collar of some cosmically huge-huge being, or that there existed a dozen intelligent civilizations in my eyeballs over the past 24 hours.

We are inclined to take "science" seriously, and to treat speculation with a sense of detachment or irony. But these movements toward the infinite seem very serious to me now, and global warming seems frivolous, despite Ann Curry's warnings of flood, drought, blizzards, hurricanes, etc. And despite Kanye West's very persuasive performance of "Gold Digger."

I hope "they" keep a giant record of everything ever published on the internet, and some far advanced civilization 5,000 years from now can read this post -- maybe they will be able to decide whether my interest in the cosmos was detrimental to human survival, was somehow irresponsible.

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Tomorrow: on intellectual honesty and the dissertation.

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