Mind Boggling

July 15, 2002

I was leafing through a book on ‘chaos theory’ in a library once, and discovered one of those yellow ‘post-it’-stickers marking a page in the middle. Scribbled on the sticker was: “Come back later – mind is beginning to boggle”. (‘Chaos theory’ is about the interconnectedness of everything, so that when a butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazon it causes a hurricane in Japan. Or something like that…)

My mind was beginning to boggle this weekend during a dinner conversation with a nuclear physicist in Switzerland. Jean-Louis works at the giant atomic collider near Geneva. This is a huge underground circular tube 20 kilometres in circumference, where scientists accelerate atomic particles to incredible speeds by use of magnets the size of five-story buildings.

The more scientists are discovering, I learned, the more they realise they don’t know about our cosmos. I had been a little prepared for this conversation recently by a book called, “The God of Hope and the End of Time” by a Cambridge scientist-turned–theologian, John Polkinghorne. This author reported findings from an inter-disciplinary dialogue exploring future expectations in the light of most recent scientific thinking. One such insight was the growing realisation of the interconnectedness of things present and future: of the continuity between the resurrection reality and the old reality; of the new earth and the old earth…

My new friend, Jean-Louis told about an experiment involving splitting photons and sending the two particles in opposite directions along an optic cable running along the bottom of Lake Leman from Geneva to Nyon. When the scientists manipulated one of the particles, the other particle 25 kilometres away reacted instantaneously – as if directly connected in another non-physical dimension.

But the real mind boggler was this. Jean-Louis said they could calculate the age of the cosmos by comparing the temperature one or two seconds right after the Big Bang, and the temperature now, and conclude that the cosmos is 150 billion years old. (I’m sure I’m missing vital details here but this is as best I can reconstruct the conversation.) However, this is the perception only as seen from inside our own time dimension. Several teams of scientists have been making independent calculations based on the perspective from outside of our present time dimension. Recently the conclusion they independently reached was that seen from outside our time dimension, the age of the cosmos was only SIX DAYS!!!

Time to go – my mind is truly boggled.

Back next week.

Jeff Fountain

Till next week,

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