‘Woman chilling’ by Mayank Chhaya*
Mind does what mind wants to do. I gave up a long time ago trying to figure out why my mind leaps from theme to theme, often in the middle of the night being awakened for no ostensible reason as it happened last night. It was 1.41 a.m. (I have a habit of always looking at the time when I wake up) when I woke up in the middle of an internal dialogue about the situational versus universal.
The dialogue must have been going on in my subconscious for sometime before something woke me up because at that point I was debating about the discovery by NASA of the first exomoon—a moon around a planet in another star system—located some 8000 light years away in the Cygnus constellation.
It is a moon orbiting around a gigantic planet and is estimated to be the size of Neptune. Incidentally, with the equatorial circumference of 154,704.6km compared to Earth’s 40,030.2km, Neptune is some 3.9 times bigger than us. To have a moon that big gives you some sense of how large its planet must be. That planet is a gas giant like our Jupiter.
Coming back to my debate between the situational versus the universal, after being interrupted by it I started thinking about the discoveries of the dwarf planet called the Goblin in our own solar system and a couple of exoplanets. The Goblin takes 40,000 earth years to complete one orbit around the sun. The light from the exomoon that alerted NASA to its existence left 8,000 years ago. As I mentioned yesterday, the Goblin was in its current orbit when the anatomically modern humans were mating with Neanderthals. When the light from the exomoon left the human civilization had no organized religion but a collection of disparate beliefs.
One of the two new exoplnates found by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is 49 light years away, which means that the image that we are seeing now left when NASA was barely 11-years-old.
The reason why I am making these seemingly disjointed points is precisely because I want to illustrate the situational versus the universal. All these timelines are so very different depending on the situation/location of the particular body. The other day I wrote about the Andromeda Galaxy, which is 2.537 million light years away from us. That is an altogether more absurd scale. It is ironic that the universe abounds in such situational realities. How is being separated by 2.537 million years or even 8000 years or even 49 years in terms of information exchange even remotely universal? It is all situational.
Should we then be surprised that despite our best efforts morality also becomes situational rather than universal? Of course, the laws of of physics are supposed to be universal but that is at the macro level. At the quantum level, things become unfathomably bizarre, causing scientists to continue to struggle after decades to come up with a unified theory about everything. That is part of the human weakness—looking for a unified explanation of existence. I am fairly certain now that there isn’t any. Similarly, it may feel good to think in terms of universal morality but the reality tells us something quite different.
I grant that I have not fully developed this theme this morning. That is because it forms a fairly detailed chapter in my upcoming book ‘What doe Jupiter really do?’ So watch out.
* The painting by me has nothing to do with the piece. It is just an expression of how beautiful my situational reality can be even if it is fictional.