Monday, January 6, 2014

Musical Monday - Our Place in the Universe by Symphony of Science

One of the great things about science is simply how little we really know. Actually, that's not quite right. What is great is knowing just how little we know. Despite the vast store of knowledge and understanding that we have accumulated about the universe around us, we are left with deep, seemingly impenetrable mysteries. For some people, this is a cue to retreat into mysticism and superstition, a reaction that I simply don't understand. Even if, as Dawkins cautions, there are questions that are simply too difficult to be understood by humans, that doesn't mean we should stop trying to understand them. Kennedy didn't challenge us to go to the Moon because it was an easy task, but rather because it was a difficult one. We are at our best when we are reaching beyond our present understanding, beyond our present capabilities. If we are, as Michio Kaku suggests we could be, in the middle of a conversation without even knowing it, then simply throwing up our hands and retreating from attempting to answer the questions would mean that not only do we not know, we would never know.

We are finite creatures. As Dawkins notes, matter flows from place to place, and for a short time, that matter becomes you. Our very existence is so unlikely that some might call it magic, but it is really the combination of luck, physics, extraordinary lengths of time, and vast volumes of space. Sagan said that given enough time, even the very improbable becomes probable, or even certain, and knowing that, there is no need to resort to assertions of miracle or magic to explain our presence. But the mere act of knowing just how extraordinarily lucky we are to merely exist and to be able to contemplate and understand the universe imposes upon us an obligation to actually do so. We are lucky to be here. We shouldn't waste the opportunity our existence affords us. That, to me, is our place in the universe.

This song is unavailable on Amazon, but you can acquire it for free (or a donation of your choosing) on the Symphony of Science Collector's Edition.

Previous Musical Monday: A Talk With George by Jonathan Coulton
Subsequent Musical Monday: Monsters of the Cosmos by Symphony of Science

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