Tyrades! By Danny Tyree
In 1979 Robin Williams declared, "Reality...what a concept!" Today his exclamation might be, "Infinite realities: way too much concept!"
To be sure, science fiction and comic books have for decades exploited the idea of a multiverse (e.g. our universe — with an estimated observable width of 92 billion light-years -- is just one of many universes); but the mind-boggling idea is just now reaching the mainstream media.
According to the Huffington Post, National Geographic and other sources, astrophysicists report that (you'd better be seated for this) they've detected gravitational waves from the aftermath of the so-called Big Bang.
Studying the oldest light in the universe (I think it was faintly blinking "Eat here and get gas"), researchers giddily found support for the theory of "cosmological inflation," and by extension, multiple universes.
The project's original scientific papers are intimidatingly chockablock with ten-dollar words such as "primordial ripples in spacetime," "cosmological constant" and "superstring theory." Luckily, the nation's newspapers have simplified it for the layman and boiled the message down to "Shop Locally."
Okay, it's ironic that the media think Joe Sixpack will appreciate the reports of these mysterious realms impossibly far away, considering all the interviews that start out, "What? Nice old lady what's-her-name next door has been sitting dead on her porch for the last three years? Guess I got kind of tied up in my man cave. Hey, do you reporter guys have any inside information on whether Saddam Hussein will ever surrender those weapons of mass destruction?"
These theoretical other universes would operate with different rules. Maybe galaxies, stars and planets never coalesced in some. Gravity, inertia and the speed of light might be unrecognizably different. More intriguingly, there would probably be universes where "what goes around just stays there," homeowners with glass houses are encouraged to throw stones, horses are regularly led to the water and made to drink, old dogs are taught new tricks and everybody likes a wiseguy.
Knowing nothing except a four-dimensional existence, it's hard for us to wrap our minds around the nature of some of the possible universes. Perhaps colors have SOUNDS and everything has alarming dimensions, trajectories and parameters. I know: think of a universe made entirely of bridesmaid dresses.
The theological implications are staggering. Given that some universes might be populated by subtly different doppelgangers of ourselves, folks might be tempted to exclaim, "It's five o'clock somewhere AND I'm in church somewhere. Get off my back!"
Granted, many scientists scoff at the multiverse theory, declaring it to be UNTESTABLE — because of the insurmountable distances involved, because of shaky assumptions and mostly because no one thought to request "Common Core, may I?"
Some institutions like a challenge and are undaunted by the general understanding that we would never ever be able to communicate with or visit these other universes. The U.S. Supreme Court, for one, is determined to see to it that altruistic corporations are able to funnel emergency rations of unlimited campaign donations to whatever bizarre creatures might inhabit those universes.
I'm sure that when all is said and done, some of you will be unimpressed by the practical applications of the research and still ask, "Who gives a rat's rump?" Coincidentally, one outlying researcher theorizes a universe in which light is made up, not of photons, but of rat's rumps, and hypothetical "dark energy" is really just ...
©2014 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes reader e-mail responses at [email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page "Tyree's Tyrades". Danny's' weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.