Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Vibrating Universe

I went for a walk along the seafront today. It was a bit windy, and a bit chilly. The waves were rising a good distance from the beach, and they rolled, in what appeared to me, to be slow motion. Great froths of bubbling sea gurgled over the pebbles (this is Brighton, we don't have sand) and onto the shore and back out again, only to be smashed by another in-coming. And it got me thinking, if I was to try and calculate the trajectory of all these molecules as they collide into one another, in something as simple as a wave crashing against the shore, it would probably become a lifetime's work, and make my abacus red-hot. The speeds are just too phenomenal, aren't they? Or are they?

Let's pop to the lab, where I shall increase my rate of perception to be a thousand times faster. Where you observe one second passing with the blink of an eye, I would experience the blink of an eye taking 1000 seconds (around 16 minutes). Okay. We're back by the sea. Let's watch the next wave together. You will see the wave drift-in, crash-in, and sucked back out, all in the space of about 10 seconds. For me, this process will take 10,000 seconds. I would have something like two and half hours to observe how the wave is behaving at a molecular level. I could practically climb into the wave armed with my protractor and measure angles of trajectory, and observe collisions, and the impact of those collisions and very important - I could start to predict how the molecules are going to behave. All of a sudden, the Universe no longer appears as such a seething chaos, but something far more stable -math!!!

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