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All we are is dust in the wind? Nah, more like a sandstorm

"Despite obscurities, infelicities, and unanswered questions." So begins one chapter of Carlo Robeli's book titled "Seven Brief Lessons on Physics." He goes on to provide the reader with a dizzying array of guesses about the universe in which we ...

"Despite obscurities, infelicities, and unanswered questions." So begins one chapter of Carlo Robeli's book titled "Seven Brief Lessons on Physics." He goes on to provide the reader with a dizzying array of guesses about the universe in which we live. Each guess has a substantial slice of supporters in the current world of physicists. None of them make much sense.

I am obviously not a physicist. But I am interested. I long for the good old days in the late twentieth century when we knew for sure there were only one hundred billion galaxies, each of which held one hundred billion suns just like ours, each of which... Well. You get the picture. Best description of us? One speck of dust in a full-blown sand storm.

Then we launched the Hubble telescope, which looks out much further than ever and immediately shows that there are at least a billion times more of everything than we-they-thought. By billions more of everything, that includes a billion more theories trying to explain why we common mammals can stand outside on a dark night looking up at the stars, still not having the least clue where we came from.

We're getting ready to send up another telescope, much better than the Hubbell, which will: Oh yes, find even more stuff that we don't know we don't know anything about. Thousands of people will have jobs for even longer, as they take new guesses about everything from atomic particles to universes out there.

But I wanted to read this book to see what these folks are cooking up for the latest theory about dark matter and dark energy, which for once they-by "they" I mean all these physicists and cosmologists and mathematicians and such-all agree accounts for 95 per cent of everything out there. The other five percent is of course stuff made of atoms, like us and ours. This is the current belief, which seems to support the fact that we here, and the planet on which we live, really are one tiny grain of sand. We're outnumbered 95 to 1 out there.

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The latest theory-and some small part of me thinks that these PhDs are making this stuff up, and job security means that the rest of them gleefully go pro and con-is one called "loop quantum gravity." Hang on for this one: Space is made up of grains (That's the "quantum" part.) of gravity that are extremely small, like a billion billion times smaller than the smallest thing you know-which for me is what I know about any of this, which means small indeed.

These small "atoms of space" are so small they don't exist and are only described by mathematics. No one obviously can see things this small (which means job security for everybody looking, right?). These small things are circular (there's the loop part) and are all hooked together. And where are these loops? Nowhere, that's where, because they're that small. Space is created by this "chain mail" of gravity.

Then comes another theory that speculates that none of this theory works if time is is factored in. Here's where the entertainment aspect of all this tickles me no end. Since these loops are so small as to be nonexistent, and since time only works if there is existence, then there can be no time. Wow!

About now in the book, I'm beginning to read sentences five or six times. Maybe - and my maybes are just as valid as a bunch of PhD's are - time has stopped for me, because this book is too loopy.

Finally, black holes come up, which makes sense, because we don't know what goes on inside them either, only that they suck in whole planets which collapse under immense gravity, down to the size of a single atom. (But we don't know that, because light doesn't escape this huge gravity, so guess what? We guess.) So, last but not least, 14.7 billion years ago, they figure The Big Bang was the reverse of a large-really large-event that we call a black hole and we're the egg that came out the other side.

The mathematical equations of non-existent grains of timeless loop quantum gravity theory prove this.

You read it here. Loopy math. I always suspected math like this.

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