Certainly, three kindred spirits have here encountered each other; and although the first two missed each other on earth by eight centuries and the last two by twelve months, still in the heart of the survivor lingers the hope that in the life 'sans end' they may all yet meet…Thus was the seed of Omar planted in a soil peculiarly adapted to its growth, and it grew and took to itself all of sorrow and of mirth that it could assimilate, and blossomed out into the drawings.
The vision of the extraordinary may occur along a winding road through a maze searching for a way out to new wonders. Ideas are seeds that we pass on to each other. In order to evolve, they need the right environment and must carry the quintessential aspect of what they are yet to become. A seed planted in my head by Elihu Vedder, peculiarly adapted to its growth, grew and took to itself all of William Wordsworth’s romantic spirit and Charles Baudelaire’s sorrow, and blossomed out into a wave of imaginative power that other sensitive beings and creative souls will harness in an effort to urge humankind to look into its own consciousness.
Time is an intangible concept shredded into intertwined layers. On one level, it may be that Sahelanthropus, ancestral to later hominins, stands upright to gaze at the sky, startled by the muffled echo of an explosive outburst from Sagittarius A* burping up giant lobes of plasma. On another, it may be that Psyche, the spacecraft, will reach in 2026 Psyche, the exposed nickel-iron core of a disrupted planetesimal, in the hope to map it and study its properties. On yet another level, the rings of Saturn will be gone in 292 million years. Meanwhile, I stand in the midst of scorched plants and dying trees, wary of the drought of the late summer.
There are countless of asteroids and not just located in the asteroid belt like metallic Psyche. There are Trojan asteroids that share a planet’s orbit, 7113 as of today, most on Jupiter’s path. Asteroids collide with each other, creating more fragments along the way that may escape their natural home and reach a planet’s shore. A global collaboration is underway with the goal to assess threats posed by near-Earth objects, including comets, and find ways to deflect them. If 879 as of today have a non-zero probability to hit Earth, other asteroids offer future mining opportunities and a great insight into planet formation. Radio telescope observations have indicated that Psyche mainly consists of iron and nickel metal, the same key ingredients that sunk into Earth’s interior in the process of core formation and play a role in generating the Earth’s magnetic field.
I enjoy listening to the sound of the waves crashing onto the river shore. If it were not for Earth’s magnetic field, the ground and everything down here would be, as it is for the river shore, battled by the flow of electrically charged particles streaming from the Sun. Instead, their journey ends in the form of a bow shock in front of the magnetosphere. The universe is magnetized, from the Earth, the Sun, and other stars to disk galaxies, galaxy clusters, and perhaps also the intergalactic medium in voids. A 2019 study entitled From Primordial Seed Magnetic Fields to the Galactic Dynamo traced the generation of magnetic fields right from the early universe to their subsequent amplification by turbulent dynamos in the later universe. The magnetic field plays a role in the evolution of planetary discs and may define criteria for habitability.
The magnetic field along the Galactic plane (ESA/Planck Collaboration. Acknowledgment: M.-A. Miville-Deschênes, CNRS – Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale, Université Paris-XI, Orsay, France)
While theorists press ahead with new studies on Quantum Teleportation, my mind is guided to the bird’s magnetic compass. I wonder whether the magnetic field is rooted in my soul as I wait for the return outside my door of the mesmerizing whistle of the white-throated sparrow. A 2019 study on human magnetoreception found that two classes of ecologically-relevant rotations of Earth-strength magnetic fields produce strong, specific and repeatable effects on human brainwave activity. If there is such a thing that resonates inside me and lies within the dynamic interaction with our physical Universe, why does my individual consciousness feel isolated? The research suggests the loss of a shared, ancestral magnetosensory system, or the possibility that the system lacks a conscious component with detectable neural activity but no apparent perceptual awareness by us.
At the crossroads of science and philosophy, my quest turns to cosmic Consciousness. From nebulae to stars, from gaseous ring to planets, from fluid-like bodies to the formation of rigid bodies, this is how the process unfolds. The word ‘accretion’ refers, in my mind, to a symbiosis of matter and time that allows the blending of one layer with another from the planet’s core to its atmosphere. Between shredded layers, the information get lost, scrambled. Could the cause-effect power of conscious mechanisms be extended to the overall structure of the Universal Consciousness outside the limitations of our own individual self? To this question, Julio Tononi and Christof Koch answer that the Integrated Information Theory can not be applied to aggregates and complicated systems.
...for integrated information theory, the spatiotemporal maximum of integrated information fixes the spatiotemporal scale of consciousness
Time, as we experience it, is a complex and multi-layered web of geometry intertwined with that of space (Carlo Rovelli, The order of time) and provides the pulse, like a rhythmic flow, to the interplay between Consciousness and the Universe. In the remote past, the prelinguistic mind drew its artistic drive from the well of the Unconscious. In a distant future, Consciousness may dive into the depth of the Unconscious and uncover what was once lost. How can one see beyond the appearance of disunity and discontinuity? Life and consciousness go hand in hand. I imagine they extend from the beginning of time to the other side of the Universe. Life chemistry occurs on Earth from its seemingly spontaneous emergence to the driving force it has become, as a result of thermodynamic processes.
The emergence of chaos is the most plausible explanation for the thermalization of closed quantum manybody systems
Is there in the universe, billions of light-years away, a biochemistry different from the one we know at the origin of life on Earth? And could it be paired with another level of consciousness? Ideas may grow, mature or become obsolete and sometimes reappear as they are picked apart and further interpreted. The vision of the extraordinary makes us wonder what the difference is between a ‘break-through’ and a ‘breakdown’. I imagine the flow of nothingness that has its own usefulness, in which all things are connected through a set of complex, and yet unseen, interactions. And as I start reading David Quammen’s book The tangled tree, I see the Universe full of chimerical beings, may they be stars, planets, human beings, assembled in the course of time, transmogrified into what is yet to be discovered.