Cosmic Uroboros: Namaste: If Not Now, When? Chapter 28

Author’s Note: Each chapter of this book can be read as a stand-alone and it is not necessary that they be read in numerical order. All of the previous chapters are posted here or in my Diaries at Firedoglake/MyFDL.

I welcome comments and will respond as time allows. Thanks for reading.

Chapter 28

Cosmic Uroboros

The Uroboros is an ancient mythological serpent that swallows its tail. Down through the ages many cultures have associated it symbolically with the creation of the world and the unity of all things. Ironically, given what present day scientists know about physics, astronomy, and cosmology, the ancient Uroboros perfectly symbolizes the universe. Updated and renamed the Cosmic Uroborus by present day scientists, it is a science based mythology for the Third Millennium, CE.

1. Background

We humans are cosmologically important because we are the product of 14 billion years of evolution involving the interaction of chance and natural selection. We are luminous stardust beings, we are intelligent, and we live at the spherical center of our universe.

The choices we make today will determine whether 14 billion years of evolution will be for naught or produce a super human who cares for and protects this beautiful Garden of Eden that we call Earth and all of its life forms before migrating to the stars.

For example, in their book at page 151, “The View from the Center of the Universe.” (Riverhead Books 2006), Joel R. Primack and Nancy Ellen Abrams said,

Every particle in our bodies has a multibillion-year past, every cell and every bodily organ has a multimillion-year past, and many of our ways of thinking have multithousand-year pasts. Each of us is a kind of nerve center where these various cosmic histories intersect.

The universe began with the Big Bang 14 billion years ago. Earth is 4.5 billion years old and the third planet from our Sun.

The Sun is at the center of our solar system and our solar system is located in the Orion Arm of a spiral galaxy we call the Milky Way. In about 6 billion years, our Sun will swell into a red giant consuming Mercury and Venus and frying Earth to a cinder.

We humans have more than enough time to figure out how to get it right, but right now—particularly with the United States Government corrupted beyond imagining by the criminal banksters and completely out of control—we humans are causing incredibly destructive climate change and the greatest mass extinction of species since the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. If we fail to stop our government and fail to move to a more sustainable and eco-friendly manner of living, we and the planet may not survive this millennium.

Our solar system orbits the center of the Milky Way galaxy once every 220 million years.

Our species, Homo sapiens sapiens is approximately 100,000 years old.

The nearest galaxy to us is Andromeda. The Milky Way and Andromeda, together with approximately 30 little satellite galaxies comprise our Local Group of galaxies.

70% of all matter and energy in the universe is composed of dark energy, which is a theoretical explanation for the known accelerating expansion of the universe. Dark energy causes the space between galaxies to expand. The more distant a galaxy is from us, the more rapidly it is accelerating away from us.

The expansion of space exceeds the speed of light. Any galaxy that is so far away from us that light has not been able to reach us in the 14 billion years since the Big Bang lies outside our cosmic event horizon. Because the speed of light is slower than the rate that space is expanding, light from such a galaxy will never reach us just as light from us will not reach it.

25% of all matter and energy in the universe is composed of dark matter. Dark matter is not really dark; it is invisible and transparent. It does not interact with light. It does not emit light as stars do or reflect light as gas clouds do. In addition, it does not absorb light as dust does and it does not emit or absorb X-rays, radio waves, or any other form of radiation that astronomers can detect. We know it exists because galaxies would fly apart without it. That is, there must be a vast cloud of invisible and transparent matter that fills and surrounds each galaxy and cluster of galaxies out to a distance 10 times the radius of the disk of visible stars. That vast cloud creates a gravitational force field that is sufficient to overcome dark energy and allow galaxies to form and evolve. In fact, all galaxies are located within invisible and transparent clouds of dark matter and space does not expand within the cloud and never will.

As we look out at the universe from our vantage point on Earth, we are looking into the past because we are seeing light that was emitted at some time in the past and it has been traveling toward us at 186,000 miles per second, or 300,000 kilometers per second. For example, if a star is 100 light years away, we are seeing the star as it was 100 years ago, and if it were 10 billion light years away, we would be seeing it as it was 10 billion years ago.

There is no astronomical center to the universe because it is infinite and without boundaries. However, the Milky Way is the spherical center of our universe because the portion of the universe that we can see is about 14 billion light years away. Scientists call it our cosmic event horizon.

4% of all matter and energy in the universe is composed of invisible atoms.

0.5% of all matter and energy in the universe is composed of Hydrogen and Helium.

0.01% of all matter and energy in the universe is composed of all other visible atoms

We are made of hydrogen, helium, and stardust, which is composed of the heavier elements produced by stars.

The Milky Way Galaxy is the center of our spherically visible universe just as every galaxy is the center of its own spherically visible universe. As time passes, fewer and fewer galaxies will be visible to us because they will have accelerated away from us and beyond our cosmic horizon.

Not only are we located at the spherical center of the universe, we humans are at the center or middle of all possible sizes in the universe. This is where the Cosmic Uroboros comes in.

2. The Cosmic Uroboros

Using centimeters as our measurement basis (1 centimeter = a little less than ½ inch; 100 centimeters = 1 meter), most humans are between 1 and 2 meters tall (1 meter = 100 centimeters or 10 to-the-second centimeters)

Therefore, most humans are in the 10 to-the-second range.

Mountains are in the 10 to-the-fifth centimeter range or 3 orders of magnitude larger than humans.

Cells are in the 10 to the -3rd centimeter range or 5 orders of magnitude smaller than humans.

The smallest size in the universe is due to the interplay between general relativity and quantum mechanics. There can’t be more than a certain amount of mass packed into a region of any given size. Add more mass and it collapses to no size at all, a black hole. The size of a particle is actually the size of the region in which you can confidently locate it. The smaller the space, the more energy it takes to find it and more is equivalent to larger mass.

Turns out that the maximum mass that general relativity allows to be crammed into a region of space without the region collapsing into a black hole is also the minimum mass that quantum mechanics allows to be confined in such a region. The size of this region is called a Planck length (10 to the -33rd centimeters).

The largest possible size is the distance to our cosmic horizon (10 to the 28th centimeters).

The difference between the smallest and the largest sizes in our universe is 60 orders of magnitude and we are close to the middle.

The head of serpent symbolizes the largest size in the universe and the tail symbolizes the smallest. The body of the serpent also symbolizes time. With respect to both time and size, we are located in about the middle of the serpent’s body, which is called Midgard, a name for Earth taken from the Edda, a Norse creation myth in which the land of humans is halfway between the land of the gods and the land of giants.

This turns out to be the only size that conscious beings like us could be. Smaller creatures would not have enough atoms to be sufficiently complex, while larger ones would suffer from slow communication—which would mean that they would effectively be communities rather than individuals, like groups of communicating people, or supercomputers made up of smaller processors.

Discovering Our Extraordinary Place In The Cosmos (Riverhead Books 2006),
p. 161.

Different physical forces control events on different size scales. Electrical and magnetic (electromagnetic) forces control what happens from atoms up to mountains, even though gravity plays a role. But around the size scale of mountains, gravity starts to gain the upper hand. The maximum size of mountains is determined by a competition between electromagnetism and gravity. The electromagnetic force is the glue of the chemical bonds that hold together the atoms that mountains are made of, and the strength of the glue is the same everywhere, regardless of the size of the planet. But the strength of the gravitational force grows with the increasing mass of the planet or of the mountain. When the mountain becomes big enough, its gravity overcomes the electromagnetic forces that hold mountains together, and the roots of the mountain flow or break, causing earthquakes. The smaller the mass of the planet, the weaker the gravity pulling the mountain down. Consequently, mountains can be much higher on smaller planets like Mars than they are on Earth. Since the strength of gravity continues to grow with mass, once we reach that part of the Cosmic Uroboros where gravity controls, all larger scales are also controlled by it and all other forces become less important.

* * *

Moving clockwise now on the Cosmic Uroboros, zooming way inward past Midgard to the very small, we reach the size scales of subatomic particles. This is the region controlled by what are called the strong and weak interactions. These forces are active only on scales smaller than atoms. Gravity is of no importance at all on these scales. In fact, gravity’s power fades out at the small end of Midgard. It can’t hurt a mouse. You can drop a mouse down a thousand-yard mineshaft and at the bottom, as long as the ground is soft, it will walk away. Gravity plays virtually no role in the life of bacteria, which are at about 7:00 on the Cosmic Uroboros. From there until about 12:00, gravity is completely irrelevant.

But then a strange thing happens. As we continue along the Cosmic Uroboros to the very tip of the tail, gravity’s strength increases as objects get closer to each other, and at the tip of the tail distances between particles are almost unimaginably small. The Cosmic Serpent swallowing its tail represents the possibility that gravity links the largest and the smallest sizes and thereby unifies the universe. This actually happens in superstring theory, a mathematically beautiful idea that is our best hope for a theory that could unify quantum theory and relativity. In string theory, sizes smaller than the Planck length get remapped into sized larger than the Planck length.

Discovering Our Extraordinary Place In The Cosmos (Riverhead Books 2006),
pp. 161-163

When we started teaching the Cosmic Uroboros, we realized that it might matter that humans are at the center of all possible sizes. We realized further that stardust can be seen as central, not peripheral. In fact, the entire existential façade of despair and stoicism flips inside out if we simply view the universe from the inside, where we indisputably are. Once we made this mental shift and opened our eyes to this view from the center of the universe, we not only kept discovering more ways that we are central: we found that doing so evoked the opposite emotions from the existential stance—not despair but hope, not resignation but excitement. These may be equally arbitrary emotions but they lead to nonarbitrary actions.

Discovering Our Extraordinary Place In The Cosmos (Riverhead Books 2006),

Cross-Posted at Firedoglake/MyFDL and the Smirking Chimp.

Namaste: If Not Now, When? Is my intellectual property. I retain full rights to my own work. You may copy it and share it with others, but only if you credit me as the author. You may not sell or offer to sell it for any form of consideration. I retain full rights to publication.

My real name is Frederick Leatherman. I was a criminal-defense lawyer for 30 years specializing in death-penalty defense and forensics. I also was a law professor for three years.
Now I am a writer and I haul scrap for a living in this insane land.




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2 Comments on “Cosmic Uroboros: Namaste: If Not Now, When? Chapter 28”

  1. Nancy Says:

    Hi, Masoninblue. Actually, “Discovering Our Extraordinary Place in the Cosmos” is the subtitle of my book with Joel Primack. The title is “The View from the Center of the Universe.” Thanks for referring people to it, but please use the real title. Nice blog!
    Nancy Ellen Abrams

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