Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Theory of Nothing

Most family portraits of the Solar System look something like this:

You can just imagine a photographer rounding up all the planets so that they'll fit in the picture. 

"Mars, a little to the left, please. Hey, Pretty Girl, pull in those rings. Everybody say 'moon cheese.' "

In these pictures, we look like one big happy family--even the little lovechild Pluto. We look like Norman Rockwell hoboes huddled around the trash-can fire of the sun to warm our hands. Picturesque and cozy and quaint.

And wrong. 

Like a lot of family portraits, this one is really misleading. For a more realistic picture, drawn to scale, you can visit a website called "If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel," by Josh Worth.

Josh has created a scale model of the solar system online, with earth's moon scaled to just one pixel. At this resolution, the asteroids don't even appear. Josh's model is conveniently laid out in a straight line, but that's probably the only way to make it work.

You start at the sun and scroll to the right to visit the different planets. You scroll and scroll and scroll, because the planets are such teensy little specks, and the spaces between are so vast.

This journey is mind-blowing and terrifying. Because most of space is just that. Zilch. Nada. Space crickets!

And that's just inside our little neighborhood. The spaces between stars or between galaxies are greater still. Unimaginable. Overwhelming. Pee-your-pants scary.

And when we zip on down to the microcosmic level, we find even more nothing. About  99.9999999999996% of a hydrogen atom is empty space.  Proportionately, there is less something and more nothing within your atoms than out there in Star Trek land.

I guess I'm thinking that what we could really use, instead of a Theory of Everything, is a Theory of Nothing. Why are all the particles and planets so far apart?

Maybe it's just God's feng shui for the universe. God used all this nothing to make the something look better and work better.

I got sick over Christmas, and I'm still taking drugs and breathing treatments to keep recovering. The first couple of weeks of 2016 are a motion blur to me.

So I'm pushing the reset button on the New Year. I woke up this morning to snow. A fresh, uncluttered landscape. A blank page.

And I'm thinking that in my life, maybe there's not enough empty space. Maybe events and commitments and newsbites and postings and chats and tv shows are all crammed a little too close together. 

I'm thinking I need less stuff and more nothing in my office, in my closet, in my filing cabinet, on my dinner plate, on my calendar,  in my mental and spiritual life. More empty space for thinking. Praying. Writing. Napping. For face to face with friends. 

Less time doing. More time being. Less noise. More silence. Less school. More snow days. Less grown-up. More child. Less planning. More possibility.

A little less something and a lot more nothing.

Photo Credits:
    Solar System, by NASA, public domain
    Solar System, author--Omnidoom 999
    NGC 2683 Spiral galaxy, by NASA, public domain
    Rutherford model of atom, by Cburnett
    Snow on twig, (C)opyright / 
    Little girl, (C)opyright nastia19893

1 comment:

  1. Oh, my I agree with your thinking...and there are so many others who are encouraging versions of decluttering, empty space, silence... And there are those medical folks who are connecting environmental chaos to depression that is hard to the decluttering...well, let's get well by The Creator's design. Step One...with courage, take it and ease down His Road. Hugs all around.