All these Worlds...
By R. D. Flavin

12-6-2013

     There's been much discussion recently concerning space-junk crashing to Earth, talk of the inevitable planet-killer asteroid which will eventually bowl a strike against our beloved Mom Terra, the ever-popular and ongoing threatened eco-bio outbreaks rivaling the worst of imagined super-villain and zombie plots, and then there's the news of India's Mangalyaan (aka Mars Orbiter Mission or “MOM”) probe to the Red Planet, China's Yutu (aka ''Jade Rabbit") lunar rover mission to Luna, our moon, and lots of other astronomical developments and discoveries undeserving of descriptions like “odd” and “interesting.”  It seems rather ironic with all these worlds to explore (except, of course, Europa as per the instructions in 2010: Odyssey Two), that the world which begins outside our front door remains ...tragically neglected.  I mean, it's “dangerous business” with all of the unexpected lurking hither and thither, but our world, of all possible worlds, should remain our BWF (or “Best World Forever”).

     Poor comet ISON's Thanksgiving Day attempt to avoid coming too close to Sol, our sun, has resulted in a fatal downgrade to a smattering of dust and debris which will eventually drift apart into the (mainly) emptiness of wicked outer space. However, not all is doom and gloom throughout the Níu Heimar, as our valiant Voyager 1 space probe has successfully left our Solar System and officially introduced a gold-plated audio-visual disc filled with Earth-selfies (which all future extraterrestrials will be able to enjoy on their digital-data players).  It's a ...thing, though not quite as profane as the graphic plaque with human nudes on Pioneer 10 which left the system around 2009, but still a stunning achievement on the nerd-scale.  I mean, there's been potential HBO and Showtime video goodies floating out there for years, but until Comcast buys the distribution rights to the Milky Way galaxy, I wouldn't bet on any little green exo-genders tuning in.  Well, one could assume there would be a bootleg market of some klnd...

 

Data-disk from Voyager 1 and graphic plaque from Pioneer 10.

     One might argue there's only one real “world,” as the Latin mundus and saeculum, as well as the Greek αἰών and κόσμος simply ...don't make the grade.  As such, our English word 'world' is Germanic and likely had something to do with men, old, and the “age of men.”  Though, in (cough) fairness, there's the Old English feminine woruld...  So, we might quibble about planets and inhabitable dimensions, ships or objects, but strictly speaking ...there's only one world, it's ours (which we share with over 8.7 million other species of life), and knowing it better seems as basic as asking if it truly is a venial sin to put ketchup on a hot-dog or merely a regional bias.  Yet, even agreeing on a Terran world, we're still confounded by individual perceptions, descriptions, and whether or not said “individual” has a current thesaurus and a valid prescription for medical marijuana...  Sadly, I've only got the former.

     I've always been fond of Philip K. Dick's surprisingly balanced answer to a question posed by a forwardly college student: "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."  Our world is like that...   The absurdist semantics about nonactual possibles from the atomistic actualists (passim McMichael, Alan. 1983. “A Problem for Actualism About Possible Worlds.” The Philosophical Review. 92, 1: 49-66) almost (but, not quite) inspires me to cage a cat with the threat of releasing hydrocyanic acid à la Erwin Schrödinger, but I could never intentionally hurt a kitty.  Besides the scientific method, there are lies, damned lies, and the “I'll be damned if I know” quandary.  But, pseudo-intellectually entertaining an “epistemically possible world” seems like some level of quantum feel-good masturbation, but there's always the prime penance and the required clean-up (contra Jeffrey, Richard C. 1965. The Logic of Decision. See: pp. 196-197. New York: McGraw-Hill).  Our reality, our world, our shared living-space needs more science and less fiction.

     We're always learning more and I'm glad that the Vatican is on good terms with the work being done at CERN's Large Hadron Collider and the Higgs boson.  Sure, Brown's Angels and Demons was entertaining, but I'd prefer the Noble divinity of a perfectly built glass of Guinness over a shot of anti-matter with an Illuminati back...   It's cool and constructive for some religions to work with science, rather than declaring a holy war against it.

     In Arthur C. Clarke's 1982 novel and 1984 film, 2010: Odyssey Two, the extraterrestrial warning:

ALL THESE WORLDS
ARE YOURS EXCEPT
EUROPA
ATTEMPT NO
LANDING THERE

...didn't really work out that well in the end (unless one's into the whole exo-gender thing).  Though I've always enjoyed science fiction as genre escapism, to be purr-fectly honest ...most of the sci-fi futures I'm familiar with appear either too boring or so extremely dangerous as to guarantee a quick and horrible death.  For me, all these worlds are that wonderful sequence of now-now-now, etc which we metaphorically refer to as the ongoing passage of 'time'.  The time spent in this world, our world, is more than sufficient.  I actually think I might be too old for the hookers and blow aboard the upcoming Virgin Galactic.flights, especially at $250,000 a ticket, but then again, I've always been pro-science.

Reaching for the front door,
Rick

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