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The New Order of the Universe

September 8, 2013, 8:00 AM

Half a percent of the universe is all we see - all the stars, the dust, the galaxies, everything - half a percent.  So what’s the rest?  The Dark Matter.

Think of the pyramid from the back of the dollar bill that has an eye, a glowing eye at the top. Every time we present a picture of the universe, we put ourselves into it.  One of the things scientists do, is they leave us out.  The cosmologists think about the universe as something out there.  But in our books, what we’re trying to do is bring people in so they can understand how they fit in. 

So we have pictures of the universe that include us and show our place.  So when we use this pyramid with the eye at the top, the little floating part at the top represents star dust, which is what we’re made of, which is what all intelligent creatures anywhere have to be made of because it’s the only thing that has complicated chemistry that could actually create the kind of consciousness that we need.  

Then the base of the pyramid is hydrogen and helium.  Those are the atoms that came right out of the Big Bang, more or less.  So that’s the visible matter.  And then we have this picture of well what’s – where’s the rest of it?  And there’s this huge, huge, huge block pyramid that goes all the way underground, that represents dark matter and dark energy.  But we are the eye at the top.  We, intelligent beings, are the only thing in the universe that can see this pyramid that understands it.  

So what we see, when people look at this and they can see how we fit in, they also see that we’re the only ones who appreciate it.  In some sense we are really the mind of the universe.  We’re the consciousness of the universe.  We have a job.  We’re the consciousness of Earth, we may share the job with other aliens, we don’t know, obviously, we may hope that there are other intelligent aliens, but there may not be.  So we may be that.  And it would be wonderful if we could make this part of our identity and act as though we are the beginning of intelligence in the universe rather than the end. 

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock


The New Order of the Universe

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