Round and Round it goes

Published on by Catherine Toulsaly

Looking at the totality of life, the POET asks, Who are Gaia’s children?
The ECOLOGIST responds, They are the species. We must know the role each one plays in the whole in order to manage Earth wisely.
The SYSTEMATIST adds, Then let’s get started. How many species exist? Where are they in the world? Who are their genetic kin?

The future of life, Edward O. Wilson

As if a universal principle unfolds in the spacetime continuum, muons spin, electrons travel in an orbit and molecular cloud rings and disks show a preferential orientation in their rotation. Round and round it goes from the infinitesimally small to the exponentially large.The poet wonders, Which direction do they all move around?


I try to pull myself out of the puzzling state of nothingness. Somehow I still feel its shadow between the lines written by Gilles Deleuze. He mentions the “emptiness of pure time” and adds that time, as we experience it, isn’t defined by “an empty formal order but by a whole and a series.” Time implies a temporal order of spatial situations. It invites motion. Together with space and gravity, it draws flows and loops in the fabric of the Universe, stirring units of change. Without motion, time returns to nothingness. 


Time is an empty shell filling itself with loops of temporalities hanging onto what is perceived to be a central, linear thread of time. Some loops appear similar; others, different, all molded into the combining framework of spacetime. Planets, comets, and stars on a different time frame ride a billion-year journey. It’s in the repetitive deployment of events that our shared memory loses its sense of collectiveness. 


E. O. Wilson wrote about the gravity-shaped “membrane of organisms wrapped around Earth” to which we, the human species, belong. It is “so thin,” he commented, that “it cannot be seen edgewise from a space shuttle, yet so internally complex.” I would go so far as to say that if everything is repetition in the series of time in relation to the fundamental principle of biological geography, then those repetitive tableaux, may they be a transient film on grains of sand — boiling hot or supercooled — are random features of past, present, and future in the Universe. Even if nothing alive has so far been visible to past and present observers outside of our planetary surface, single cells of microorganisms grow and reproduce, or at least are “dormant and awaiting” somewhere in the Universe.

Beyond carbon-based life, there’s something alive in the kinematics and dynamical processes of gravitationally-bound groups of stars moving and dissolving with similar space velocities. Movement creates difference and repetition. On the blank canvass of nothingness, there exists a chameleon-like field, the scene of an exchange between dark matter and ordinary matter brought about by a long-range fifth force among bodies. The resonance between loops, webs of lines and circles crossing each other and cutting through define space as it consists, essentially from Leibniz to Barbour, in the relations among bodies, and not as an entity existing in its own right. 


My head spins as I visualize a muon spin rotation, Penrose’s concept of spin networks, and the Earth spinning on itself.  All of the above seem non-axisymmetric with axes zigzagging through space. Penrose’s spin networks are the first sets of temporal and spatial series in a process of actualization. He wrote that it is the geometry of “spin-axes” of the large units which is the real geometry


Spin precession of a charged particle, virtual and constrained in the hidden sectors, reminds us of similar phenomena observed with macroscopic systems. Precession connects microscopic physics to macroscopic planetary science. It changes our astronomical vantage point by displacing what we call the North Star from Polaris to Vega. It defines the wobbling of an object around an axis like the Earth in a 26,000-year cycle and the anomalous movement of muon whose measurement was corroborated by the findings of the Fermilab’s Muon g-2 experiment. 


We hope to learn with an experiment at Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex expected to start in 2025 to what extent the muon’s anomalous magnetic moment is anomalous. On a quantum level, a muon’s precession is a clue to understanding the time it takes to traverse a barrier between nothingness and being. In the presence of the magnetic field, a muon sits within a cloud of particles popping in and out of existence as it emits and absorbs photons, changing, although slightly, its magnetic moment.

Original and precession axes create an entangled Universe and point to objects at farther distances. As we picture mentally virtual particles twinkling spontaneously in the muon’s cloud, imaginary lines running through individual objects, we wonder how far and deep our consciousness can expand, the spatiotemporal limits of its reach.  Woven into the fabric of time, there is the thread of an open communication through the many and various series of a universal, yet indescribable, phenomenon of resonance filtering through the tips of fingers, the edges of galaxies: a certain je ne sais quoi that I internally feel.


It would seem so easy to see repetition in past, present, and future, in the way things unfold and feel alike. But such an eternal return, in the spatialization process of time, “brings back neither the condition nor the agent: on the contrary, it expels them,” Deleuze writes, out of space to that which I can’t yet see. It ensures autonomy and independence of resulting individuals and allows nothing “to subsist of the default or the becoming the same.” Time affirms individuality. Between nothingness and oneness, structures scatter while others form; objects become fuzzier as if they were camouflaged in the chameleon-like field of time while new ones take shape.


We may never know whether Oumuamua’s non-gravitational acceleration is the result of an undetectable release of gases. Its entry, however, into our ever-growing field of view makes us wonder what its hyperbolic trajectory, once completed, might look like. As it wobbles, would its path take it back to the proximity of its once alleged place of origin, the Carina and Columba moving groups? We may dream of the journey of other interstellar objects — asteroids, comets, and unidentified objects— sailing through star clusters and molecular clouds. Out of nothingness, into space, imaginary axes and angles of precession precede, I feel, those objects’ timely intrusion into our line of vision.

 NGC 3318 (ESA/Hubble & NASA, ESO, R. J. Foley; CC BY 4.0 Acknowledgement: R. Colombari)

NGC 3318 (ESA/Hubble & NASA, ESO, R. J. Foley; CC BY 4.0 Acknowledgement: R. Colombari)

E.O. Wilson, The future of Life

Gilles Deleuze, Différence et répétition

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