My Toothbrush

My Toothbrush

This morning, I got up and walked in the bathroom, as usual, and noticed something rather strange and wonderful.

My toothbrush was in exactly the same position that I left it in 8 hours previously.

EXACTLY!

The angle was the same, it stuck out of the cup exactly the same number of centimeters.

Now, this may seem rather mundane and normal to you, until you consider some of the following realities.

 

My toothbrush and I were separated by about 15 ft for over 8 hours, on the surface of a spinning globe that is rotating at a rate of somewhere around 1,040 mph. Think about how hard it is for two Navy Blue Angel jets to fly that close together for 10 or 20 seconds at around 600 mph without clipping a wing and ending up a rubble of flaming titanium. Those things are piloted by men who are alert and have years of practice!

This globe we call Earth is spinning around a larger celestial body which is a medium-sized little star out on the edge of a pipsqueak little galaxy we call the Milky Way.  Earth’s rotation around this star is somewhere in the neighborhood of 67,000 miles per hour.

The Solar System’s path through Milky Way Galaxy

This little star we call, rather dramatically, The Sun, is in motion away from the center of the Milky Way at a velocity that makes our beloved Sun a dust mote by comparison, at approximately 513,874 mph. And then this Milky Way galaxy is being flung out from the center of something which is too far away for humans to know exactly what it is because it is beyond the scope of our ability to see with any device we’ve invented (so far.) The velocity of this unknown entity, in relation to a stationary point on Earth, is around 2,571,600 mph.

Detail, from the Album cover of “In The Court of the Crimson King” by King Crimson

Then, of course, there’s that “expansion of the universe” thing going on, which means that we’re moving away from everything else that we can see in the night sky at a rate of around 158,822 mph., most of which are not stars but other galaxies that are so far away they look like stars. which, you’d think would mean there are fewer stars every night. But . . . well It’s complicated.

If you start thinking about the notion of infinity, which means everything going on forever in every direction and dimension including time, infinity math means that everything we can conceive of has an infinite number of possibilities of actually happening somewhere, because, for example, 5 x infinity is just as infinite as 5×10 to the billionth power times infinity, give or take a little bit of infinity, which is, when you think about it, a pretty absurd concept.

Reality just goes on and on, in every direction. It always has and it always will. Sorry to burst any bubbles with that little tidbit. But it’s just math, in itself another imaginary construct we use to create these lame, 3-dimensional metaphors to enable our minds to conceive of things that exist in 4 or 5 or infinite other dimensions.

A portrait of Albert Einstein, with hands clasped
Is Albert praying? He should be praying for forgiveness. For thinking too much.

To show you how powerful just thinking in these kinds of metaphors can be, consider Albert Einstein.  Albert was really good at metaphorical visualization, and a pretty good physicist to boot. So good, in fact, that one day his imagination conjured up the idea that a potential release of energy from splitting an atom that would be far greater than anything mankind had ever witnessed. He submitted a scientific paper about it, which found its way to the War Department.  This scared the living shit out of Albert, causing him to call the President of The United States in the middle of the night and plead with him to forget everything he had ever said about atoms, because there was a distinct possibility that this weapon that they wanted to make could end life on earth, so don’t do it, for God’s sake!

Fat Man. The bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima

Of course, nobody listened to Mr. Einstein. The US military brass was just as happy as a pig in shit at the idea of an “ultimate weapon”, because there really were some insane dudes slaughtering people right and left on three continents at the time. It was getting ridiculous and had to be stopped. Ignoring the pleadings of the good pacifist Einstein and other concerned scientists, the President found some other scientists that weren’t so squeamish to build the weapon:  Mr. Teller and Mr. Oppenheimer.  They figured, what’s the worst thing that could happen if we just make one or two little bombs and drop them on this smarty-pants son of a bitch Hirohito in Japan?

Hirohito on his Imperial stallion Shirayuki. Entered on horseback. Exited via H-Bomb.

Before you knew it, without the citizenry of the US voting on it, or even being fully aware of it, our country was incinerating about 155,000 thousand human beings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in an instant (well, two instants, to be exact.) All due to the active imaginations of a few scientists.

Today, there are thousands of these ultimate weapons stacked up like cordwood in the arsenals of 8 or 9 countries. It’s far worse than the worst thing Teller and Oppenheimer figured could happen. It is just too horrible to consider that this sort of power is in the hands of mere mortals who are so ill-equipped emotionally and physically to control this kind of power.

1952 FILE PHOTO – The mushroom cloud of the first test of a hydrogen bomb, “Ivy Mike”, as photographed on Enewetak, an atoll in the Pacific Ocean, in 1952, by a member of the United States Air Force’s Lookout Mountain 1352d Photographic Squadron.

If humans actually make it past this horrible discovery without destroying every living thing on our little orb, it will be miraculous. We have a shot at it, but then again it all might go up in flames and all our petty little wars, ridiculous religious differences, and nationalistic jealousies will cease to exist like a failing light bulb experiment in Thomas Edison’s lab before he tried tungsten.

Earth. How long will we live here?

If there is some more advanced civilization watching our failure as a civilization, they’ll probably chuckle, and say,

Good try, Earthlings, but you just didn’t pass muster. Neeeeeext?

I’m sorry if you have a headache now.  But just remember tomorrow, when you get up and your toothbrush is still where you left it, how amazing and wonderful reality is. And how possible it is that absolutely anything can happen, at any time, and at any place, and it’s just as likely to happen as not to happen.

Ok, go to bed. You don’t want to think about this anymore.

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