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If asked how long 1440 minutes is, most of us would reach for a calculator and divide 1440 by 60 to "rationalize" a number many would not immediately recognize. The answer, of course, is 24, the length of a day in hours.
When dealing with very large numbers, rationalizing them -making them easier to "understand" - is not so easy. The largest number most of us encounter is the annual US budget, currently 3.5 trillion dollars.
Most of us know our annual income and what we would do with additional funds were we to receive them.
So, if we divide the 3.5 trillion dollar US annual budget by the US population - which was 331 million in 2020 - we have a value of $10,574 per citizen, Thus we rationalize a very large number into anumber that has relevance for us as individuals.
Another very large number with which most of us may be less familiar is the age of the universe: time that has elapsed since
the "Big Bang," - currently assessed to have occurred 13.772±0.040 billion years ago - when all that we can observe though our largest telescopes was contained in an infinitely small "singularity" of infinite density. (Wikipedia).
Most of us acknowledge that the earth is "very old." The early earth condensed from the pre-solar nebula about 4.54 billion years plus/minus one percent. (Wikipedia)
So, we have a "rationalizing" value for the age of the universe:which is very close to exactly three times the age of the earth: 3.03 to be exact. We stand upon the earth; it is something with which we are very familiar. At least for the writer, the age of the universe compared with the age of the earth makes the age of the universe a comprehensible number.
An associated issue is the age of life on earth generally agreed to have been cyanobacteria at about 3.5 billion year ago at a time
when the earth was still the target for very large incoming objects (planetismals) from space that must have sterilized large areas of the planet if not its entire surface.
Radiogenically and crater-count datings of large lunar impact craters has identified periods during which many large objects impacted the lunar surface: 3.25 and 3.85 billion years ago. It is logical to assume similar impacts occurred on earth, probably more because of the relative strength of earth's gravity field compared to the moon's. These circumstances argue that life could have originated and been extinguished numerous times before achieving survival because of its increasing distribution on the earth's surface and a decreasing number of large incoming objects.
This logic is consistent with the conclusion that life exists everywhere in the universe because planets with conditions favorable for its survival must be commonplace since recent radial velocity and occultation measurements confirm essentially all stars have planets, their formation being a normal consequence of star formation - and there are trillions of galaxies (Hubble Deep field Study) each containing millions to billions of stars almost all of which have planets. Indeed, any object with a significant gravitational field should host orbiting objects as do Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune with their systems of large and small moons.
What "saves" the earth from visits by the technologically advanced alien civilizations that almost certainly exist is the enormous distance between stars. The nearest star known to have planets is Alpha Centauri at 4.35 light years or roughly 26 trillion miles. Don't wait around for visitors.
What triggered these rather abstract musing? It is book entitled "The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking)" by Katie Mack written in terms comprehensible to all. No advanced math or I would not be reading it, much less recommending it to those who monitor this site.
A final note: telescopes are basically time-machines because light has a finite speed: about 186,000 miles per second. So, the sunlight you see reflected from the moon left the moon a little more than one second earlier. Direct sunlight takes about eight minutes to reach the earth; hence, what you actually see is the sun as it was eight minutes ago - in the past. The more distant an object is, the further you are looking into the past. The most distant object to be optically detected - by the Hubble Space Telescope - is a galaxy about 13.2 million light years distant - getting close to the age of the universe at 13.77 billion years..
That raises the question: is it possible to actually "see" the Big Bang, the creation of the universe? The astounding answer is "Yes." It has been detected as the Cosmic Microwave Background, an omnidirectional radio source the discoverers of which were awarded the Nobel Prize.
And they deserved such recognition since confirmation that the universe had a beginning may be the most important determination ever made by the human mind because things that have beginnings must also have endings, and the author of the book describes four possible endings of the universe.
Although the writer is only several chapters into "The End ofEverything," the book already has had an unexpected almost soporific (calming) effect preparing him to more peacefully accept his own terminal event because everything has to - and will - end.
Looks like a very interesting read. In my view, to truly study the universe on a deep level, humans must acknowledge the fundamental role of consciousness in painting reality. Experiments in quantum mechanics shocked those brilliant fathers of the field, many of whom (Werner Heisenberg, Wolfgang Pauli, Niels Bohr, Erwin Schrödinger, Sir James Jeans, to name a few) turned to the mystical worldview seeking answers.
They realized it was impossible to separate the experimenter from the experiment, and to explain reality without consciousness. They postulated the indescribable immensity and complexity of the universe, and that consciousness is the basis of all that exists. Those experiencing near death conditions indicate they were so totally connected to it that there was often no real differentiation between “me” and the world they were moving through.
If I had to summarize all this, I would say first, that in my view the universe is much larger than it appears to be if we only look at its immediately visible parts. This isn’t much of a revolutionary insight actually, as conventional science acknowledges that 96 percent of the universe is made up of “dark matter and energy.” What are these dark entities? No one yet knows. But evident is the jolting immediacy with which one experiences the basic role of consciousness, or spirit. It isn’t theory when learned, but a fact, overwhelming and immediate as a blast of arctic air in the face. Second: We—each of us—are intricately, irremovably connected to this larger universe. It is our true home, and thinking that this physical world is all that matters is like shutting oneself up in a small closet and imagining that there is nothing else out beyond it. And third: the crucial power of belief is critical to ones ability to transcend the physical reality that surrounds us all.
Just another point of view to research. Cheers
DARK Matter state theory...