by Kim Pederson…….
The world of physicists and astrophysicists is abuzz today because of a “faint chirp.” What’s the big deal, you might ask? I can hear mockingbirds sing right outside my window and it’s a whole lot more interesting than a sound burp from an event that took place a billion light years away and a billion years ago. The chirp, if you haven’t heard (DOH!), was the sound of two black holes bashing into each other and becoming one (read more about it and watch the really cool video here).
The “grirp” (gravitational chirp) just recorded is sci-fabulous because, according to The New York Times, it fulfills the last prophecy of Einstein’s general theory of relativity and because, in the words of one jazzed professor, “Astronomy grew ears. We’ve never had ears before.”
As someone with overlarge audiopendages, I’m tempted to send my condolences to astronomy but will refrain. This news does make me wonder what the earth might have been like one billion years ago when the two black hole event horizons banged into each other with the force of a billion trillion suns exploding. (Kim Jong Un must be way jealous.) As it turns out, we were all one back then. Well, not we because there were no plants or animals at the time. We were one because all the land was gathered into a super-continent named Rodinia (formerly Pangaea).
In a related aside, I’m reading Charles Yu’s quirky, fun, and, yes, sci-fabulous novel titled How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe. (Charles was here in Key West a few years back when the Literary Seminar chose sci-fi as its theme genre.) The lead character is also Charles Wu (who has met 37 versions of himself in different galaxies, including, one presumes, the book’s author). Charles is a time-machine repairman tending to various chronotransports that other people have rented “to go back and fix their broken lives.” Charles tells these people what they don’t want to hear, that because of “the basics of Novikovian self-consistency” what they want to do is impossible.
But what if it wasn’t? If it were possible to change the past, I would rent a TM-31 Recreational Time Travel Device, grab a very large tube of tectonic Super Glue, go back one billion years, and mend all the cracks in the super-continent such that it never breaks apart. If I could do that, today we would all be Rodinians, speaking Rodinian, living as “one nation, under the deity or nondeity of our choice, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Wouldn’t that be something? There but for that darn Novikovian self-consistency might go us. Perhaps the TM-32 RTTD will resolve this issue. One can only hope.
Visit Kim Pederson’s blog RatBlurt: Mostly Random Short-Attention-Span Musings.