Wednesday 15 October 2014

Why Are We Here?

If (and it's a big if) I've learnt one thing in 40 years of marriage, it is that Mrs N must have her science documentaries, and while she watches them I must maintain silence and try to keep the incredulous snorts and head-shaking to a minimum (not easy). Last night it was ever-smiling, ever-awestruck moptop physicist Prof Brian Cox and his Human Universe, this week posing the question Why Are We Here? Quite rightly, Cox did not address this question (which is a religious/philosophical one if it's anything) but set about answering another one: How Come We Got Here? What chains of causality culminated in Us, here and now? 'The life of the Universe,' he declared at one point, 'is just like a game of cricket.'  I see - that would explain a lot...
 Soon he was edging back to his favourite subject, the one that seems to strike most awe into him, however many times he returns to it: those few basic Laws of physics and those Numbers (neither of which exist in themselves) that explain Everything.
 How did it all begin? Cox favours the theory of Inflation - 'eternal' Inflation, no less (eternal?) - which, as he explained it, seems to rely on the presence of some form of energy to set it in motion, i.e. yet again the Something from Nothing conundrum is sidestepped (energy is surely Something, and was Before). Inflation  necessarily implies the creation of a multitude ('infinite' no doubt) of Multiverses, each slightly different. We're the lucky ones - the Human Universe is the 'winning ticket' in the Multiverse lottery. It is also 'inevitable'. 'You are,' concludes Cox, 'because you have to be.' Or in other words (to the tune of Auld Lang Syne) 'We're here because we're here because we're here because we're here. We're here because.... etc, etc.'


  1. High on the baffleometer, the television clever clogs, at the moment Nige, a different lot, the other night, used lots of bangs, as they rubbished the big bang, it's all about stuff, apparently, there' a lot more of it out there but, and here's the joker in the pack, they, gulp, dunno what where why or when, nor it's colour. In mitigation, they were cosmologists and we know what makes them troll around the block, don't we. Add to this the other sweet young thing currently swanning up and down big rivers with a bag full of BBC environmentals has discovered, surprise, surprise, that the jolly old Ganges is polluted, tish, tish, out of the bag came BBC gospel No 943, don't piddle in the river tra la, tra la.

  2. Ah yes - Simon Reeve, another lovable moptop - used to be much sharper, he's gone all BBC now...

  3. Try this Nige -

  4. "In one moment I've seen what has hitherto been
    Enveloped in absolute mystery,
    And without extra charge I will give you at large
    A Lesson in Natural History."

    --Lewis Carroll

  5. Thanks Peter - and Guy.
    I wonder what future generations will make of the likes of Cox's TV series. Say in 50 years' time...?

  6. They won't see it, Nige. Science has an uncanny knack of burying its many absurdities. What they will see is a young Cox wannabe with an even more fantastic untestable, unprovable theory of how it all happened. It will be presented as the only rational alternative to the beliefs of ignorant fundamentalists in rural Appalachia. If challenged by a thoughtful theologian to the effect that what he says isn't really science, he will respond indignantly that religion has killed more people in history than anything else and the queston reminds him of the treatment meted out to Galileo.