Warning: Despite what this post might lead you to believe I have not been smoking a lot of pot recently. But, I have been reading Brian Greene’s ‘The Elegant Universe‘ and watching a ton of specials on cosmology.
Perhaps it’s a reflection of what a huge dork I am, but one of the most frustrating things in the world to me is knowing that there are things that we, as humans, are actually incapable of knowing. And I’m not talking about intangibles, or the spiritual realm. There are things in our physical world that we will never be able to understand, no matter how advanced our science.
For example — the Big Bang. Our science has evolved to the point where we can map out the sequence of events that took place mere fractions of a second after the Big Bang and the creation of our known universe. While we can’t explain why or how many of the events transpired, scientific theories (such as string theory) are working towards a complete understanding of the forces at work.
But even if string theory is able to take us all the way back to the moment of the Big Bang, that is where our understanding will cease. We will never be able to understand what existed, if anything, before the creation of our universe. Is ours just one of many universes? Was it spawned from an existing one? Are we the rebirth of a former universe that collapsed on itself? We will literally never know.
It is my understanding (and please physicists out there correct me if I’m wrong) that any record of a pre-existing universe, or information about the origins of ours would have been destroyed at the moment of singularity which we believe would have preceded the Big Bang.
This isn’t a “what does it all mean” moment. I don’t care what it means. I’m merely interested in the facts. It’s not just disappointing, but depressing that there are things we will never know. Not even long after I’m dead and decayed. Perhaps this is the one place where I’m actually envious of those who have faith and religion. Not to be glib about it, but for them the answer is clear — it was god. I can take no such comfort.