National Commentary

This Soup Called Our Universe

It has been disputed whether the comments attributed to the world’s foremost theoretical physicist Albert Einstein and quoted in this space a couple weeks ago are actually his, or the work of an imposter. Suffice it to say that if it’s the latter, we are genuinely sorry for contributing to the spread of misleading information. However, the quotes, which were reported as addressed to his daughter after many years’ being out of touch, bear an imprint of universality that, if Einstein did not actually make them, nonetheless qualify for profound words on the origins and purpose of the universe.

All the quotes take Einstein’s incredible insights on the substantial universe, those embodied in and extrapolated from his e=mc2 shorthand, and substitute the word “love” for energy. Now, what’s so wrong with that?

The fundamental reality of our existence that common notions of physics fail to account for is the most mind-boggling of all our experiences, that one that can perhaps be summed up in Descartes’s dictum, “I think, therefore I am.” Often thought of as an egregious oversimplification of Descartes’s thought, the little phrase, on the other hand, is amazingly succinct in achieving the most important crossover separating, in our minds, the objective from the subjective. It proposes in a most radical way to integrate them.

How do we view the objective universe that we experience by looking skyward, on the one hand, and inward to the functioning of our minds, on the other? How does the experience of our cognitive mental processes inform what we observe through the most powerful of telescopes?

What is the consequence of appreciating, or experiencing, the coherence of these two factors? Their oneness?
Love, you ask? Do not the most fundamental laws of nature involve forms of attraction through what we call gravity, for example. Do energies of the universe not spin toward one another and collide? What if the human mind, your mind, dear reader, knows and experiences forms of attraction that are interpreted by our conscious assessment to be in the form of physical and emotional attractions that we associate with terms like “love?”

What is this is the “stuff” of the so-called objective universe that is so vast and beyond our ability (yet) to fully examine? There is this bizarre phenomenon acknowledged by science called “entanglement theory,” defined thusly: “Entanglement is a mechanical phenomenon in which the states of two or more objects have to be described with reference to each other, even though the individual objects may be spatially separated. This leads to correlations between observable physical properties of the systems.”

It means that there are components of reality that are in such a seemingly symbiotic relationship with other components that they mirror each other in ways that cut right through time and space and appear as action at a distance.

Einstein, himself, called entanglement theory a “spooky” component of reality. It states this hypothesis: ”If one logically inexplicable thing is known to exist, then this permits the existence of all logically inexplicable things.”

All the old saws about love, such as “love at first sight” and inexplicable attractions of opposites can take up harbor in these “spooky” aspects to the physically measurable components of our universe and of ourselves as participants in this universe.

One can argue that with all this, the best one can do is to work on opening up sensibilities to whatever this soup is that we’ve swimming in its totality as well as its specificity. Good luck.

So no wonder that the annual survey of U.S. astronomers this year has placed at the top of its to-do list the search for extraterrestrial life. The 614-page Nov. 4 report by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found that the most scientifically-oriented folk now think that the search for ET is a top priority.

They want to know: Is life on earth the result of a common process, or does it require such an unusual set of circumstances that we on this planet are conceivably the only living beings anywhere?

It’s now important to know, because life and love as we know them suddenly seem to really “matter.”