it’s 3 a.m and i’m thinking about: (caveat: most of these things have been thought about by lots of people way smarter than i, so don’t expect too much novelty here, unfortunately…).
a an 80 million year old bone is ancient. but 80 million years in the time-line of the universe is so short as to be almost nothing. so if 80 million years is nothing then what does that make 40 years? 15,000,000,000 years (the age of the universe, apparently) vs. 80,000,000 years (age of many fossils) vs. 40 years (age of me, roughly)
b we live on a big planet. but our planet is quite small in comparison to our sun. and our sun is quite small in comparison to other suns in our galaxy. and there are 200,000,000,000 suns in the milky way. and the milky way is one small galaxy. and there are 100,000,000,000 galaxies, supposedly. and most galaxies are incalculably far from each other. and most of the quanta in the universe isn’t visible or even, seemingly, identifiable.
c the paradox of humans. we are young. rarely do we live to be older than 100 years. a human who is 100 years old has lived a long, long life. but 100 years in the time-line of the universe counts as less than 1/1,000,000,000,000th of a second. the first billion years of the universe nothing happened, stuff just floated around. for a billion years. for 4 billion years on earth cells just floated around in the seas. so 100 years? 1/1,000,000,000th of a gnat blinking it’s eyes, in universal terms. but one minute is a long time to me, sometimes. and 100 years is a long time, subjectively. so, the paradox. or paradoxes.
1 we’re short lived but we’re solely comprised of the matter/energy that was at the beginning of the universe 15,000,000,000 years ago.
2 we have mastered amazing quantum feats(lightbulbs, dvd’s, metallurgy, etc.)and invariably use them for utterly mundane purposes(lighting the deli case where they keep the mayonnaise, watching ‘meet the fokkers’, wrapping a ham in aluminum foil, etc).
3 compared to the universe we are tiny, but we are comprised of quanta that are so tiny that we can’t even comprehend them (atoms, molecules, even smaller quanta). and within the tiniest quanta are distances (between electrons, for example) that are so great that we can’t actually conceive of them. and that’s where matter resides, in ineffable quanta space. so within our tiny-ness are further levels of smallness that we can’t possibly conceive of. and within that smallness are distances that are almost immeasurable.
d are we as humans capable of understanding any sort of significance either transcending or involving us? or are we just weird bio-buses, shuttling bacteria and quanta around for a little while until some new creation comes along to shuttle it around a bit differently? is there significance to life? to matter? to energy? to time? to existence? to the universe? if we’re in any way capable of understanding any sort of significance, how in fact do we go about trying to understand? deprivation? excess? meditation? worldliness? prayer? psilocybin? death? disco?
e what’s on the other side of a black hole? if it sucks up everything, where does it go? what if black holes just keep sucking and compressing until there are only 2 black holes and one sucks up the other and then the remaining black hole sucks up itself and is then the repository of every bit of energy and quanta that the universe has ever known and it becomes a singular dense point and then explodes, thus creating a new universe all over again?
this is why sometimes it’s better to go to sleep early, rather than stay up until 3 a.m pondering a bunch of unanswerables. all answers welcome.