When I was a journalism student at New York University in the 1980s, required reading was “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions,” by Thomas S. Kuhn. I was annoyed that this was required reading. It had nothing to do with my life as a journalist. Science was of no interest to me. I had set my goals… my targets… and everything else was superfluous. Yet jump ahead a few decades and I find quantum physicists and evolutionary biologists and anesthesiologists and brain scientists fascinating.
I re-read Kuhn recently. One of the scientific revolutions he wrote about was prompted, not surprisingly, by Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species.” At the time, he said, the resistance to Darwin wasn’t so much about the theory of natural selection. Even in Darwin’s time, other than those wedded to certain religious beliefs, his colleagues knew that evidence for the changing of species over time had been accumulating.
It was not the idea that man descended from apes that bothered people, Kuhn wrote. The issue, he said, was that Darwin was asking people to accept that evolution was not a goal-directed process.
If God, or whatever Nudge that guided the creation of life, did not have an actual plan – then… what? If our evolution was a series of random mutations… a series of lines and engravings continuously turning… then where was our guiding force? And, again, where were we being guided? We needed to feel like we were aiming somewhere. Right? As Kuhn wrote: “What could ‘evolution,’ ‘development,’ and ‘progress’ mean in the absence of a specified goal?”
It is discomforting to think we are adrift in the universe. It is unsettling to think we are creating our evolution in some entangled yet free-falling web. Floating without gravity. With no rules of nature or text to direct us. A stream of consciousness. Propelling ourselves… by our selves.
Might this force be responsible for keeping the universe together? Is this where a sense of interconnectedness might be – a vibrational connection that might be part of the mystery of entanglement? (“Spooky action at a distance,” Einstein called it.)
Living Without Light
As quantum physicists have realized to their dismay over the years, humans impact the results of an experiment simply by the unique process of observation. Take our eyesight — and even intention — out of the equation and the world operates in a much more flexible and unpredictable way.
I am learning from colleagues what dark energy and dark matter might be teaching us. Since 95 percent of the universe is made up of this “dark” — which actually refers to its ability to not reflect light — the unanswered question is whether this force is responsible for keeping the universe together.
Dark energy and dark matter don’t interact with matter, as every atom we are familiar with does. So… what is it?
Some speculate this is where a sense of interconnectedness might be — a field of invisible energy — an Indras net — an implicate order — a vibrational connection that might be part of the mystery of entanglement, in which particles separated from birth mirror each other no matter the distance. (“Spooky action at a distance,” Einstein called it.) In this world of dark, it might be, everything is connected.