Wednesday, 14 November 2012

On The Universe

It started with a roman philosopher, whose name has been long lost to the history books. One night he stared at the moon as it rose and pondered on the fact that such beauty would be meaningless without people to see it. That the soft glow of the moon, as it reflected upon the waves of the ocean only really existed because it could be seen to exist. Because if something can not be observed, the philosopher thought, it could not exist.

Times changed, and men of science replaced those of a church who believed that when we die we would spend eternity somewhere else. Yet the men of science were faced with a question the church had long since answered. Why were we here? What purpose did we serve? If we did not exist to serve and amuse a creator, then for what purpose had we been placed upon this Earth, upon this galaxy? And in the back rooms of the universities, around the coffee tables on late nights as professors thought deep thoughts and argued with one another a pattern began to form. That the universe could not exist without us. Because without us the universe could not be observed and so could not be.

The men of science, men who had never placed much stock in the talk of the philosophers, discovered that light changed when it was observed. That things under observation changed. And the men of science tried to explain this away, with complex theories and equations. They talked of invisible particles and unprovable theories. And slowly the men of science became like the men of the church, requiring the public to believe them for they had no evidence to show that they were right.

Eventually science changed, and men who were too rooted in there ideas were replaced by those more zealous to finding the truth. And the universe was opened like a book and examined, and the laws of reality explained and expounded. And yet for all our knowledge, all our understanding, we were still no closer to understanding why we were here. And the question still remained. Of why the light changed when it was observed.

Humanity took to the stars. It mastered space travel, long voyages where bodies were entombed in space craft, to reawaken years later on different worlds. Our lifetimes extended a hundred fold and we spread throughout the galaxy, seeking the answers to our questions. We began to understand that we were merely constructs, things of flesh and blood that could be repaired and duplicated and upgraded as we saw fit. Great wars were fought, between those who would disallow technologies and those who would not. The great debate of the galaxy was one of ethics and in turn it became a time of bitter strife. And yet still, in modifying ourselves we hoped to discover something that we had yet to discover in the many galaxies we had visited.

And a prophet came, from the farthest reaches of the universe, traveling for thousands of years to return to Earth with a message. That he had solved the great question. And all of humanity held its breath as he explained that without us the universe could not exist. That are purpose was to observe the universe, that it might be. That light, something which was so close to non-existence, so close to violating the rules of the universe, could only possibly exist when it was observed because when it was not observed it did not exist. And he was believed.

The prophet said we must create a great observer and in doing so we would preserve the universe. For long after humanity died, long after it disappeared from the stars, they must still be observed or else they would be lost forever. And so humanity built the observer, a great device which looked out across the universe but could not influence it. And they harnessed all there technology to make it travel at the speed of light, so that it would last forever.

And humanity died. A bitter death, on terraformed planets and jagged space rocks and lost moons. Entropy eventually caught them, and they disapeared from the galaxy, and there machines broke and died and there civilizations crumbled and even there planets were burned away by exploding suns or sucked into black holes. And yet the observer remained, hurtling through space so fast that entropy could never touch it.

And a philosopher, of a little backwards civilization, watched the moon of his planet rise above the oceans and looked up at the sky and thought of how meaningless this would be without someone to see it. And then he thought that perhaps nothing existed, unless there existed someone to observe it. But then the philosopher realized that if that were true then he could not exist, for surely there was a time before himself, before all of his people, and if that were true then there would be no one to observe the universe and yet the universe must have existed. And so the philosopher thought himself silly, for having such a silly thought, and returned to other considerations on the existence of humanity.

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