Welcome to the thin line between what we know and what we don't.
Mrs. Culp was the inspiration for my debut novel, Algorithm, a story about our origins and purpose, but in my version a young boy finds a curious medallion within his coal, and twenty years later he's off on a 8,000 light-year trip to meet our Makers. Quite a leap, but if you think about the ramifications of such a finding, I think you'll agree it's more like a logical extension.
a zinc silver-incrusted vase was extracted from a block of coal which dated to 500 million years, well-drilling came up with a copper coin at 114 feet complete with inscriptions (ca. 200,000 years old), and hundreds of metallic spheres with grooves along their equators were found by South African miners in Precambrian mineral deposits (2.8 billion years old).
There's something about objects that exist along that thin line of credulity that are just plain fun. The best ones seem impossible and threaten to turn history upside down. It's easy for us to dismiss such discoveries as fraud, in fact, we feel compelled to. But even as we do, there remains an awkward hope surging within us … what if they are real? What if just one was real? Did people exist before us? Were they alien?
We want them to be real! You want to find out more about them. There is a crying need within you to pull back the curtain that shields us from the ultimate question: what is going on and why are we here? That curtain keeps us isolated and disconnected. Alone in the universe.
We have just started our journey here on Earth. We have only begun to explore our neighborhood, both in space and under the sea. It would be pure hubris to think we know exactly what happened over the 4.5 billion years it took for the Earth to form. That's an awfully long time. Catastrophe theorists would have you believe that many ages of man have occurred during that time, leaving little or no evidence behind. Ancient alien theorists would have you believe that nearly all the engineering accomplishments of ancient man had an extraterrestrial assist. Ufologists would point to the ever-present influence of aliens. And the list goes on.
The thin line that separates real from unreal is everywhere. Look at dark matter and dark energy. These concepts came out of nowhere when we realized our understanding of gravity didn't explain what we observed. So, we made up a new force and a new form of matter to explain it all. Is it real?
Maybe you heard about the Higgs boson. It's a subatomic particle that bestows mass on anything it's attached to. Without it, nothing has mass. Really?
Did you know that a perfect vacuum is impossible to create? That's not because it's hard to do. It's because matter appears out of nowhere. There seems to be a kind of equilibrium between nothing and something. What the heck?
We are but babes in the woods. We're new. The universe has been around about 13.7 billion years. We've been here a mere 200,000 years. If you drew a chalk line 224 feet long and ended it with a dot … that dot would be us. So the next time you take a walk in those woods and something catches your eye that just doesn't make sense, be prepared. Like the song says:
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
From Desiderata by Max Ehrmann
This blog first appeared on Nov 24, 2014 on the Literary Counsel web site (http://www.literarycounsel.com/blog).