Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Thought of the Day: An Inward Universe

String theory predicts (in a crude sense) that the entire universe is made up of vibrating filaments of energy - called "strings". These "strings" are supposed to be 10^-33 cm in size. To put that into perspective, the difference in the size of our entire solar system to the size of a the tree that sits outside of Utah Valley University, is not as great as the difference between the size of a single atom to one of these "strings". This means that when scientists tell you that, our solar system is so vast, there probabilistically must be life (probably sentient life) out there, we could also probabilistically presume that there must be life (probably sentient life) *in here* - here being anywhere, for example, a single cell which makes up a small portion of your cornea.

So, my thought of the day is really this: don't underestimate the small-in-size. Since, after all, "small" is a relative term. It's true that there are somewhere around 100 billion stars in our galaxy alone, but there are also roughly 100 billion neurons in our 3-pound brain - and the potential connections of those neurons are greater in number than the atoms in the universe. And if each of those 100 billion neurons is made up of innumerable "strings" - which are about as far distant from those neurons as the neurons are from the size of our galaxy, who knows wherein sentient life may lie...

1 comment:

Brittany said...

I can't even wrap my mind around the "more potential connections than atoms" thing, let alone the As a kid I loved thinking about scale, especially after I learned about atoms and thought about how they resembled solar systems, how our universe could just be a tiny particle in someone's finger or something. Ah scale is so cool! Love it love it love it.