Thursday, September 05, 2013

Purple haze

By Capt. Fogg

I like to read books by theoretical physicists who are good at presenting mind-bending material to the general public. I should say that I like reading about these things in English because I can't, quite frankly, even imagine being able to follow the math involved in portraying multidimensional universes, Calabi-Yau manifolds, P-branes and loop quantum physics, just to scratch the surface.

The idea of other universes, possibly an infinite number of them with every point therein stretched out on holographic membranes only a tiny distance apart yet forever isolated, fascinates me far more than any science fiction written these days. There was one school of thought not long ago.  I'm not sure it gets any credit or ever did, but it attempts to explain the relative weakness of the gravitational force by postulating that force particles, or gravitons are able to leak into neighboring planes where they perhaps show up as 'dark' matter, but I'm so far from being able to talk about such things intelligently that I might as well be in another universe. Another universe perhaps identical but perhaps subtly different. I have sometimes nonetheless to wonder if somehow, by some random quantum fluctuation, we don't on occasion just take that tiny jump to the left, that little step to the right, and do the time-warp again.

 I'll bet that you've occasionally asked yourself if you've just woken up in another universe, almost exactly like the one you were in yesterday -- almost.  Silly sci-fi scenarios involving worm holes and time warps are just that: silly -- and we've all read or watched the cheesy movies. The pilot loses contact briefly only to reappear in another time and place. The guy wakes up on groundhog day every day.  You've seen that movie I'm sure.

And yet.

Over the weekend I was motoring south down the Indian River Lagoon as a thunderstorm engulfed us.  The radar reflecting off the rain made the radar screen a sea of purple superimposed over the GPS chart.  I couldn't see ten feet in any direction, reflections  from my nav lights in red and green made an eerie glow in the downpour..

It passed in time for me to be able to find my intended port and eventually to arrive safely home -- but still -- did I return to the same place I set out from? I was gone only a couple of days, but how and when and why, if  this is still the same reality, did all the yogurt in all the supermarkets and groceries in the world suddenly become Greek?  A small thing, but small things add up. And when did the hipsters stop calling each other "bro" and unanimously begin saying "brah?"  Just what did happen in that purple downpour just at the edge of the Bermuda Triangle?

Before that mysterious, disorienting moment,  president Obama should have been impeached for any involvement in Libya and now his delay in  bombing Syria is "shameful" according to one Krauthammer I won't mention by name.  No, I don't believe in space aliens flying around at night with their lights on or in ancient aliens, prophecies and apocalypses, but something is happening here and I don't know what it is. There's a purple haze all in my brain. Lately things just don't seem the same.

(Cross posted at Human Voices)

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