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Rachel Tashjian's picture

This Post Is About Nothing.

I really liked talking about the things we did in class this past week. I've always had a lot of questions about the ideas of "spatial scales" (of course, I didn't call them that; it was more like, "mega huge stuff "and "tiny stuff"), and I finally had so many of them answered. So my parents and I were having dinner this weekend, and I was explaining to them what we were talking about in our Bio class - the universe expanding yet being finite, the different spatial scales, how elements come from stars exploding, etc. My mom found this all really exciting - she's a bit obsessed with biology-physics things - but my dad was a bit confused. He said, "So space and time caused the big bang?" I said that no one is really sure what caused the big bang, but that space and time were created in it; initially, there was a bunch of nothing. He couldn't understand how nothing could be "there." I tried to explain this by saying, "Well, Dad, the Hopi Indians had a concept for time that can't even be translated into English, so it's kind of like that." (Actually, though, I'm not really sure how the big bang is like that, but I thought it sounded kind of intellectual.) But then I started thinking about this idea that had my dad so confused, as well as this probably unrelated idea of the Hopi Indians' idea of time, and I became confused myself. I just don't understand this concept of complete, total nothingness.

Up until this point, I didn't feel uncomfortable at all with the idea of there being no one "truth," that we can't solve problems and answer questions with one magical idea. But now I've had my first real challenge in accepting that there's something we really don't know (and that I think it's OK not to understand "nothingness"). Hopefully, I'll encounter more of these challenges; having a whole group of them might make me really face the fact that the "truth" is that there isn't a truth.


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