Jeff Smith 12:30 p.m., Feb. 11
- Community Blog
- Normal Heights Through the Blue and White
Poultry and Cosmology
Hey, anybody want to construct an impromptu college dorm room?
Done and done. Recreate the best years of your life anytime you want!
Moving (widely) on, I confess to a soft spot for adorable poultry. Can't understand why I feel this way, but that's just how it is. Anyways, check these little critters out:
The little cockerel is so ugly that he actually pulls a Pac-Man and crosses out of ugliness and into cuteness. My flatmate has this idea that that's what happens when (and if) you reach the edge of the universe, you just pop out on the other edge like Pac-Man fleeing Inky, Blinky, Pinky, and Clyde through the magical gateway at either end of the screen.
Weirdly, this analogy actually makes some sense--at least to me as the world's worst cosmologist. Goofy as the notion of a Pac-Man Shaped Universe is, it fits with my (admittedly inadequate) understanding of the cosmological shape of the universe.
I took an astronomy class in college and was perpetually baffled by much of it. Lots of stuff--such as the practice of tracking the sun's progress through the sky--just didn't compute for me. I don't know why. What did sort of make sense, however, was the weird cosmological stuff that got covered near the end of the course. I chalk this up to my tendency towards more abstruse philosophical outlooks on things--
--to this day, I am much more confused by the definition of a mathematical function than I am by the use and existence of the imaginary number i. Maybe this is the result of some willful indignancy towards simple truisms, maybe not. What is certain is that the more "out there" concepts in math and physics make a hell of a lot more sense to me than the simpler, 9th-grade rules and regulations.
Enough with my insecurities over arithmetic--back to the Pac-Man Shaped Universe! From my understanding, there is much disagreement between the commonly bandied-about theories on the shape and nature of the universe, its "open-" or "closedness," flatness (or lack thereof), and just about every other aspect one could think of. There is at least some consistency on its infinite nature, which is sort of comforting. It seems that the universe is infinite by its very definition; being everything, it must go on forever. Some of the models, however, allow for it to be an infinite space with boundaries. Interesting to think that this thing, which goes on forever, reaches point beyond which it does not go. The only thing that makes sense to me is that the infinite universe can only have one thing as a boundary; viz., itself.
Consider the Pac-Man Model. Pac-Man's little world (which also theoretically exists in infinite iterations, thereby satisfying the cat paradox, sort of, maybe...) exists in planar space, yet has itself as a boundary and follows a sort of spherical topology, which allows Pac-Man to traverse the distance r (from the ghost cage to the magic gateway) and end up precisely at another, different point (in the other gateway) which is still at a distance r from the ghost cage. Is it impossible to construct a working, physical model of the universe based on topological principles at work in a legendary video game? I should hope so, given the other insane metaphors which have been drawn up to assess the state of things as we know them. People explain Hubble's law by talking about raisin bread, after all. I think Pac-Man is definitely fair game in light of such things.
At this point I should really stress that I have no idea whatsoever, really, truly not the faintest inkling or suspicion that any of what I'm saying is even remotely accurate or useful in any way. HOWEVER, it serves one, very vital function. It helps me wrap my mind around the vastness of the totality of the universe in which I, you, and everything within the realm of human knowledge itself are of microscopic stature. In order to fully express that sentiment, I will give the floor to Eric Idle: