Tuesday 06 Dec 2016

Universe Nutshell
Sjef Frenken

(See note at bottom of page)

“I was thinking some more about what I said the last time we had lunch,” said Jack.

“What was that?”

“About energy slowing down into matter.”

“If you’re referring to the fact that the energy I’ve lost over the years has turned into belly fat, I can believe it,” I said.

“No, seriously,” said Jack, “I have a theory.”

“About what?” I asked.

“About the universe,” said Jack.

“Given your life-long study of astronomy, celestial mechanics and particle physics, this had better be good!”

“Shut up and listen,” said Jack.

I tackled my lunch.

“Most scientists now believe in the Big Bang Theory. But there are two schools of thought: one says, on the basis of evidence, that the Universe is still expanding and will continue to expand forever. Hydrogen atoms apparently are still being created as we speak. The outer edges of the Universe are actually gaining speed. The other group believes that eventually the entire Universe will collapse and come together with such force as to blow the whole thing apart again. Starting another multi-billion-year cycle all over.”

Jack looked at me to see whether I had grasped his exposition so far. My mouth being full, and mindful of my mother’s admonitions in that regard, I held my tongue (so to speak) and nodded.

“You realize, of course, that the present universe may be the result of many, many cycles. And there’s no way to prove it; not a shred of evidence remains.”

“I see,” I mumbled, to show I was still listening. “So what’s your theory?”

“I believe,” said Jack, “that the two theories are not mutually exclusive. That evidence of the first theory does not contradict the second theory. The critical thing is to accept that pure energy can slow down into matter, that waves can become particles. If hydrogen atoms are still being created in the great beyond, that would be proof that energy does indeed slow down into matter. Then, whatever energy is still present between the point of origin of the big bang, and the outer edges of the expanding universe, it will eventually turn into matter, and in the far, far distant future, that increasing mass will slow down the outer edges until the gravitational pull of the whole mass will result in everything being drawn into the center again, for another Big Bang.”

I swallowed a mouthful, and said “It seems to me that it all depends on your idea that energy can slow down into matter. Granted, Einstein proved – actually, the folks at Alamogordo did – that matter can be converted into energy, but not the other way around.”

“I think that the equation E is m-c-squared should work both ways,” said Jack.

“All you have to do is prove it,” I said.

“The inventor of the Big Bang theory didn’t have any facts to back him up either.”

“Lemaitre, you mean,” I said. “But then he never got a Nobel prize either.”

“Maybe because the Nobel prize hadn’t been invented yet,” said Jack.

“Not so,” I said, “Lemaitre published his theory a few decades into the 1900s.”

“You know,” said Jack, “It’s kind of a shame, a waste of time, if you think that after all those billions of years of the process of the creation of the universe, the entire five-billion period of evolution, at the end the whole ball of wax will wind up at the same spot it started. Why bother?“

“That’s a question only the Big Guy can answer,” I said.

“Good point,” said Jack, “I must remember to ask Him. If ever I get to see Him.”

“There’s that,” I said. “Eat your lunch.”

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This is the 100th episode in the series “Lunches with Jack,” dated 14 March 2015. It’s also the 2000th original content page on GrubStreet.ca. The word in bold italic, above, is the 1,250,000th word published on GrubStreet.ca since 17 July 2006.

Sjef Frenken is a renaissance man: thinker, writer, translator and composer of much music. A main interest, he has many, is setting to music the poetry, written for children, during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Nimble of mind, Sjef is a youthful retiree and a great-grandfather. Mostly he's a content man, which facilitates his relentless multi-media creativity.

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