Each day, I awake with renewed vigor to resume a stretching, diet and fitness discipline that has the power to extend my life. Equipped with knowledge, I need only the will.
But if I am to listen to Brian Cox, particle physicist and creator of the “Wonders of the Universe” series airing the past few weeks on Discovery Science channel, there’s little point in any of it.
As the cosmos moves with unflappable forward force from its ordered state of low entropy to its preferred chaos of high entropy, and — paraphrasing here — each of the 200 BILLION stars in our galaxy, including our trusted sun, hurtle toward fulfilling their destiny of snuffing out and dwarfing all meaning of our existence, I’m left with such nebulous questions as Cox starts each episode: “Why are we here? Where do we come from?”
There’s never an answer from him, but he does intone, and this is straight from the show: “As the arrow of time plays out [at the end of our Stelliferous Era, when the universe is about100 trillion years old] … the cosmos will be plunged into eternal night … a dark and empty void littered with dead stars and black holes …. yet the vast majority of its life span still lies ahead of it.” Forget global warming. This sounds dire.
His words, stretched like taffy, go on: “There won’t be a single atom of matter left. … And after an unimaginable length of time … 10 thousand-trillion-trillion-trillion-trillion-trillion-trillion-trillion-trillion years … for the first time in its life, the universe will be permanent and unchanging … nothing happens. And it keeps not happening, forever.”
Our “bright window” of time on this planet, in which all life is possible, is laughingly brief — as small a fraction of the universe’s life span as “one-thousandth of a billion-billion-billionth, billion-billion-billionth, billion-billion-billionth of a percent.”
Gee, not even Carl Sagan made me feel this insignificant.
Cox’s message is clear: Our time is NOW.
I suppose, then, I’ve no choice but[t] to get right to it and care-take this ever-changing arrangement of molecules I’m entrusted with, my sad-sack body of degenerate matter. Let’s sweat to some oldies!
Maybe even include on the playlist a peppy track, Things Can Only Get Better, from British pop band D:Ream, a one-hit wonder [of the universe] that flamed out in 1997. Its erstwhile keyboard player? None other than professor big-banging Brian Cox! (The following clip is not the hit — couldn’t find one in which he wasn’t edited out or replaced by a sub, but this one clearly shows his rock-STAR persona.)
Bonus: Brian Cox’s rant on the inane forecast that the universe will end in 2012 (look out, now, keep your hands on the wheel!):