I’m quite an admirer of Richard Feynman. It’s hard not be one, if you know anything about him. Often when I’m bored and tired of everything – which is often – I pull out one of his books or watch his old videos on YouTube. Just watch him explain magnets or atoms with his childlike ferocity, and you’ll know what I mean.
Last night, I found a new biography written by Lawrence Krauss, and started reading about him. You may have heard his famous quote about how we’re all stardust. In one of his talks, he says a remarkable thing:
If you held up your thumb and forefinger against the night sky, and looked through a hole no bigger than a coin – that area would hold a 100,000 galaxies.
A 100,000 galaxies. Billions of stars.
And on any given night, you would see 10 stars exploding. 10 Supernovae. In that little space.
The point? The universe is huge, and rare things happen all the time.
I’m usually not as ardent an admirer of our educational system. Schools are designed to slowly, painfully grind your brains into a textbook regurgitators, and colleges are just another way to rob the non-rich for the rich.
But listening to him, I was surprised to find that I knew what he was talking about. I knew the equations for the cosmological constant. I knew why its value determines the shape of the universe – open, closed or flat. And I knew about the goddamn particle.
I had been taught all of it in school and college.
Not that it helps me today, as I try to devise a ‘strategy’ to flog some toothpaste with shiny bits in it. But then, neither does knowing the chemical structure of water or Gandhi’s middle name. Still, it’s good to know.
Today, I was late for work. No wonder, considering I spent the night watching physicists talk about the universe and the nature of infinity. I like how people find it pointless. “What’s the use of knowing all that universe stuff? How does it matter to our lives, whether there’s dark matter or not?”
Yes, what’s use of anything. I suppose it’s more meaningful to just post pictures of our fucking breakfasts.
Anyway, so I was late for work. Nobody really noticed. I found the same parking spot too. There were no emails from any of the dozens of people I’ve written to for a job. The cellphone bill is the same as it was last month. It’s still 42 degrees outside. Although my nails seem to be growing faster.
There are 10 stars exploding in a dimeful of sky, and I’m sitting here waiting for the rain.
Rare things happen all the time, maybe. But hey, Mr. Starman, I haven’t got all the time.