Thursday, 4 September 2014

Universal Perspective?

So… just how big is the Universe?

I was listening to a CBC radio program… Qwerks and Quarks specifically, and they were talking about the size of the universe. The scientist speaking at the time didn’t have an answer and suggested we will never know.

Firstly, we would have to know the rate of expansion. Unless there is a star sitting on the rim of the universe, we have no identifiable way of knowing where the edge is.

Secondly, we have no means of seeing that star at the moment. The Hubble telescope can see other galaxies yet individual stars in those galaxies are difficult to see. Andromeda, one of the closest galaxies to our own, is two and a half million light years away. That means the light we see in the sky took 2.5 million years to reach us. The universe is over 14 billion years old. A star (or galaxy) at the very edge of the universe would have to have originated with the big bang… almost 14 million years ago. The earth, and our solar system, isn’t old enough for the light from that galaxy to have reached us.

Finally, even if there were a light at the edge of the universe we could see, it would still have happened 14 billion years ago and the universe would be much larger (or smaller) by the time we “saw the light”. The damned thing could be shrinking by the time we figure out it was still expanding. 

(I'm avoiding Quantum Theory on purpose.)

But… there’s another answer to the question.

The universe is as big as the perspective of the being observing it.

From our vantage point, the universe is immense. From the viewpoint of an atom, it is even larger. If a galaxy is a sentient being of its own accord, the universe would seem smaller to it than to us. Perspective is everything. How can we hope to understand the size and scope of the universe from another perspective? We can’t. We have no way of putting ourselves in the shoes of a galaxy or an atom to know how they feel about the size.

Funny that. 

This made me wonder about perspectives in general. How can we hope to fully understand the perspective of another person? We can’t. They have trundled through the world under a completely different set of circumstances than we have. We can’t see what they see any more than we can see what our dog sees from her crotch view.

The only chance we have is to describe what we feel rather than what we see. Even then, I am unlikely to feel the same about a given circumstance simply because I haven’t the same previous experience as the person I am trying to understand.

Clear as mud?

My perspective of any given situation will never be the same as someone (or anyone) else’s. As much as humans tend to gather those around us with commonalities, it’s far too much to expect others to agree with everything.

Two things:

Our perspective is our own and we cannot expect someone to understand everything we think and feel. It is just not possible.

Their perspective is their own and we cannot expect to understand everything they think and feel. It is just not possible.

You don’t have to except this fact. You can live your life feeling misunderstood or misunderstanding others and being frustrated, angry, sad or whatever else at every turn… or

You can choose acceptance for whatever that difference is and move on.