Sizing Things Up

This week, I thought I would take a look at the idea of size, the human perception of it and how it relates to the existence of all things. It has often been said that it is virtually impossible for a human mind to imagine and truly digest the idea of the universe and everything beyond it being endless. This week, I’ve flipped this idea on its head and will offer my personal insight into what the metaphorical soles of its feet look like, in the coming post.

In our everyday lives we constantly encounter objects, and we view the size of the objects in a way which is anchored to other objects around us. For instance, a car is fairly large, a planet is really vast, and an apple pip is small. We equate the size of all things to how they appear to us, and how they compare to everything else around us. This idea of size is something ingrained into our way of understanding the world we interact with, and is  constantly used and reinforced every moment of our lives. This means that when someone asks us to imagine endless infinite space filled with numberless galaxies, planets or even universes extending forever, it’s quite hard to imagine the full scope of that.

I should note that while our experiences make our mind want to repel the idea of the infinite, logic tells us we should embrace it as fact. Because, if you’re telling me that space ends somewhere…and I ask you what happens if I step the other side of that line – you can’t ever really give me a satisfactory answer that refutes the idea of endlessness. If you say there’s simply nothing on the other side of that line, well ok, then this ‘nothingness’ that you describe is what extends forever. The fact is, that something has to be infinite, even if it is ‘nothingness’. Furthermore, if a universe with stars, planets, solar systems and life forms happened to form in one place and we accept that there is an infinite expanse surrounding us, it actually means that no matter how long the odds were of life forming in one place, it becomes a mathematical certainty that there are an infinite number of alien life forms in existence in a never-ending number of other worlds. Of course, we’d never meet each other because only a couple of them possibly, (or maybe even none of them) are close enough to be able to reach us. Even if they had a life-span of 1,000 years and transported themselves within a light beam somehow and travelled towards us at the speed of light for their whole lives – they’d still die before they got anywhere near us.

But anyway, let me get on to the flip-side of this idea. While the idea of endlessly big things being tough to imagine is common, not many people think of how endlessly small things could be. You might say “ahh, but we’ve broken things down into molecules and atoms so we know how small things can be”. Are you sure? Because, hundreds of years ago we had no understanding that things too small for our eyes to see could exist, even though they were there. Theories about molecules were eventually proved, we discovered that molecules were made from atoms and then relatively recently the smallest particle of known matter was changed to something new: leptons and quarks. As technology has moved forward we have gained a greater understanding that things more miniscule than we ever thought possible, actually exist.

So, I’ll now hypothesise something that will involve you suspending your brain’s natural inclinations towards the concept of size. I’m not saying the following is my theory of what’s really true, just that it is not impossible, even though our minds want to tell us it is….

The only part of this I want you to focus on is the principle of size, everything else is just used as an example: There is a dog sneezing. One tiny particle inside a tiny particle inside an atom of a molecule of what is propelled from his nose at that moment is our universe. It’s filled with chemical changes and shifting energies on a scale so tiny that the dog does not have the intelligence or technology to ever see it, understand it or know that I am sat upon a tiny planet somewhere within the middle of its sneeze writing this blog. There would be know way of us knowing, assuming that were true, and we could indeed be entities smaller than microscopic, floating in a world far larger than our own universe. What if  our world right now in that way, and that within every molecule in our world exists particles smaller than leptons and quarks and inside every one of those was another dog, far tinier than could ever be detected by us – sneezing out universes. I mean, size is entirely relative. How far can you actually shrink an object and all the molecular parts of it. Limitlessly, in theory. I’ll mention here that scientists know that protons have 2,000 times more mass than electrons. They have no idea why. I’m not suggesting it supports my argument in any way, but it’s an interesting thought.

Now, make what you will of the dog example used, in truth, I could have left out the dog altogether but it clumsily represents something which is important to many people who feel certain that we were created. And creation is also plausible, although not certain to me.

Hopefully, after reading this you will conclude as I have, that something similar to this could theoretically not be too far from the truth, as concepts go. The endlessly huge can be almost impossible for the human mind to imagine – but it works the other way too when you think about that which we consider very small. I’m in danger here of heading in the same direction as my last post and concluding that, as things can be large or tiny to infinite degrees, the idea of size is just a human invention inside our heads and so doesn’t really exist. Perhaps I should just conclude that nothing at all exists and have done with it.

If we must accept the existence of size, we must also agree that like outer space/nothingness/whatever is beyond the nothingness – size is also endless, in both directions (big and small). If you fill a 1 metre square glass box with oranges and pose the question of how many oranges can fit in it, the answer then becomes….an infinite number. Because you have the box within a room within a country upon a planet within a universe which may actually exist within a particle of a particle of a particle which constitutes the skin of another orange, which is one of many oranges inside another glass box. Work that logic in the opposite direction and you’d have infinite universes, boxes and oranges within the glass box you were actually talking about in the first place.

Time for me to go and have a lie down I think….within my bed, which could theoretically exist within endless other beds.

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One thought on “Sizing Things Up

  1. Are you going for a masters in Philosophy after the degree? Maybe you should, very good!

    Couple of requests….I want a post about your experiences of the Uni social scene 2 terms in….friendships, raving (!), expanding your horizons and interests (boxing). Want to hear about your life 🙂

    And I think you should do a current affairs post on trump and your thoughts about his presidency, populism, the tweets!

    I found this article on the psychology of him very interesting : https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/06/the-mind-of-donald-trump/480771/

    Like

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