Do you remember learning about the true speed you are moving while at rest as a kid? The true speed after Earth's speed is calculated in? If you don't remember it, you're not alone. If you do remember it, what you learned was wrong. Tonight, I went stumbling down a path that led me to a place where philosophy, psychology, physics, and astronomy came together for a little party.
I don't remember learning how fast we are actually moving through space... I remember reading somewhere when I was young about the Earth's rotation speed, but that's it—or maybe I wasn't curious enough to read more.
As an adult, I have been. It's funny because when my dad was alive, we weren't very close and when he found out I was majoring in psychology and English, he was surprised. He said he would have guessed I would major in astronomy. I never understood that. I wasn't a space guy; I thought the Star Wars movie was cool when it came out, but I only saw it once. I never owned an action figure or anything else related to Star Wars. I saw a few episodes of Star Trek which, like any Western, put me straight to sleep. My dad died a few years back, and I never really thought about his statement until recently, because over the past 10 years, I've taken a fairly strong interest in what's outside of our atmosphere, and it had nothing to do with the power of suggestion or wanting to somehow please a parent.
It started with ghost hunting.
Back in 2000, up in Vermont, I was looking for a hobby because I had just had a back surgery and had to figure out something to do, besides write, that didn't involve too much physical activity. I would stake-out local paranormal hot-spots, investigate hauntings that made people afraid and occasionally train my time-lapsed video camera on houses that had had suicides.
A friend that I met after I formed a little internet group called Paranormal Research America (gone now) ran a popular online magazine called X-Project (I don't know if he's still adding content; it seems to have frozen in time). His name is Davy Russell. I had gone to look at his site, and I noticed a lot of interest around UFOs; probably more, at least on his site, than the interest in ghosts.
Although I had always had some small interest in UFOs, it jumped up a bit around 2000 when I met Davy. He actually attended a ghost hunt with me at Emily's Bridge (he documented that hunt on the internet here; it was also cited in this article which includes a video from Discovery Kids about the bridge's history and legend) and was truly interested in just about anything unexplained. To me, like I expect is the case with many, the most fun unexplained phenomena are ghosts and UFOs. Some take to Bigfoot; others search for vampires or the Chupacabra or sea monsters but I think UFOs and ghosts are still the most popular. In that way, I'm entirely average among those that would like to learn more about the unexplained, but where I leave average behind is the sheer volume of thinking I do—thinking which usually produces nada. Most of it accomplishes nothing, but then there are nights like tonight, when I feel like I've really got something, and whenever I think I have something, I share it, because for whatever reason, I'm interested in the advancement of science and I want to get the next idea into as many thinking brains as possible.
I've believed for as long as I can remember that life is all over the Universe, but now I believe it may even go beyond that. I still ghost hunt for a hobby, mainly in Old House Woods in Mathews, Virginia, which is a popular spot for ghostly sightings, but I've never UFO hunted. My belief is that the chances of seeing one around here, because of the lack of local reports and the likelihood of mistaken identity with the odd weather and many airports and military bases with flying craft, was and is minute.
Regardless of all that, my interest in our Universe took a jump that has not slowed down for me at all. So, tonight, I'm going to write about something that may change your thinking forever. Let's start with what I mentioned in the first paragraph; speed.
You've been taught that our sun just sits there, and we rotate around it. You may have learned since then that the sun is actually moving through space as it rotates around our galaxy, and that instead of a nice, neat, flat-planed rotation, we planets are really chasing our sun around the galaxy. People will argue that we are in a constant state of “falling” toward the sun and that only angular momentum keeps us from falling into it; that is perfectly consistent with what I'm explaining tonight, but even the way they are thinking about it is wrong.
According to our current authorities and standards which are always subject to change, our spin rotation on Earth is around 1k mph, decreasing as you near the poles. Our rotation around the sun is around 67k mph. The sun and the planets chasing it are also flying around the galaxy at a speed of 43k mph. Then we have our idle-speed, I'll call it, which is the speed that we're moving side-to-side or circularly within our movement through the galaxy. It's like kids running in circles in the back of a tractor trailer that is moving down a highway--the sun is shown as traveling a straight line in this video but it's actually doing its own spiral-like thing, because if it was moving in a straight line, it wouldn't “pass through” the galactic plane, unless the sun somehow has a perfect rotation around the galactic center and the galaxy itself is wobbling (though it's probably true that both the galaxy and the sun have their own little imperfect movement routines). So that “idle speed” is a separate speed, just as our spiraling speed around the sun and our spin speed are separate speeds. Moreover, our solar system has a united movement going on, because it can be considered a unit in a cluster of solar systems that, as a cluster, have their own movement within the galaxy, moving varying distances away from and toward the center of the galaxy as forces act upon them, and varying distances away from and toward the galactic plane.
For a pure content analogy, you have a spinning marble, Earth, on a gravitationally-controlled roll inside a Mason jar (the solar system). The Mason jar's controlled flight path is as if it were tumbling in a dryer (solar system cluster). The dryer itself has been rolling around in the back of a fast-rotating cement truck (galaxy).
But we're not done yet.
The galaxy itself is moving through space--the cement truck has been picked up and is being tumbled by a tornado. Moreover, the galaxy's relative speed shows that our galaxy is among a cluster of galaxies moving in the same direction which can be convincingly proven. The proof for that has really only come relatively recently as we figured out how to measure speed using gamma rays from the Big Bang theory. The popular belief is that space is expanding, and it's being forced to expand by the gamma rays, and that as it does, those rays are weakened and become less powerful and, grouped, are called Cosmic Background Radiation. The first part of this problem is that many people believe space is being added, while the theory is only congruent with current space being “stretched.” I could write an entire book around the premise of those last two sentences, which I can't go into more here because I need the ideas for another presentation I'm doing. At any rate, pardon the pun, our galaxy is moving at an unbelievable speed of 1.3 million mph though the Universe. Or so they say.
And right here is where I'm gonna take you on a trip. While I have no proof that somebody has never thought of this, I have seen no proof that anybody has. And you'll soon see why I believe that disproving proof, while irrelevant to this paragraph, is not just backing up in knowledge, but also stepping forward.
Scientists fully stand behind the measurement method used to define our speed through the Universe. While using the center of our galaxy as a reference point to measure our speed around it is fair, the method of using gamma rays and Doppler shifts to measure our galaxy's speed through the Universe is hardly more than a theory, and I can prove it.
The way scientists are measuring the speed of the galaxy right now involves no absolute reference point. They use a “rest frame,” which means, essentially, nothing. I'm going to try to break this down, for the point of this post, to its simplest form. A “rest frame” is nothing more than a cube or sphere or chunk of space--let's use a giant cube of space for this example. Scientists have taken a huge cube of space and are measuring the speeds of various bodies and groups of bodies, relative to each other, inside that cube. The problem is that, because there is no absolute reference point, nobody knows how fast that cube is moving.
Scientists will tell you that there is an absolute method because if you have enough references in motion you can calculate an absolute still point. The equivalent of this thinking is that the scientists could sit in the back of that tractor trailer, with the kids running around in circles or ovals, while the kids spun around and tossed balls up into the air and caught them, repeating, and with closed doors on the back of the trailer, they could tell you the tractor trailer's speed by simply doing some computations from the kids' speeds of rotation and movement and of the balls' speeds of rotation and movement within the trailer. My answer to that is it isn't possible—not with those methods they use (which actually involve “rest frames,” radiation speeds and relative speeds between the two).
If you have any solid proof that this analogy is inaccurate, please post proof in comments. Until you find that proof, you should believe me, because all I'm doing is proving that some proof has not been proven, and that leaves a big pile of questions that we think have been answered in the unanswered category, which is incredibly misleading by those who call these theories "proof," but it's also enlightening when any of us can pounce on a proof (and I won't even get into what "proof" really is--only that it's relative, like everything else except for relativity, which is absolute). After all, when you force a thinking train to derail by destroying the tracks, it must find another path to follow, which is ultimately going to be one of forward motion, or progress.
That galactic speed computation is the first major problem that I'm presenting, but not the last.
What if they did figure out how fast the cube was moving? It wouldn't matter. Recently, the Hubble Telescope took a photo from a patch of space that appeared to be almost empty, yet detected galaxies for as far as it could see in 11 days or so (this is where time and space get confusing, with some saying that it isn't space limiting our view of the universe, but time because the speed of light is what limits us, and the more days we leave something like the Hubble in a fixed spot, the further we can see). The galaxies it found were not “thinning” as one might expect as the debris from any explosion thins as it moves away from the source—as the strength of those cosmic rays thins as they move away from their source. But the Universe, while expanding, does not appear to be thinning in any direction. Therefore, we can't even conceive of its size unless we just go with the theory that it is infinite.
To say, as scientists do now that it is exactly 78 billion light years across, is insane. That would be analogous to saying that the scientists in the back of the tractor trailer calculated that they must not be moving at all, since everything looked still except the kids and the balls, and that the only space that existed was the space in the back of the trailer, which they could observe. In other words, what they should be saying is that the currently provable distance is 78 billion light years across, but because we have not measured further than that, we actually have no idea, and if the thinning/spacing/weakening of the presence of matter or waves is any indication, 78 billion light years wouldn't even be one inch in the back of that tractor trailer that they're now calling our fixed Universe, and may be a number that is infinitely small, as is any number compared to infinity. In order to know anything is 78 billion light years across would require that the measured thing not be changing--these are the same scientists who fully believe the Universe is expanding, and many of those believe it will contract, as well (i.e. Newton, minus 1 point, because there is no proof that everything moving will necessarily come to rest without a force acting upon it--that is a strict limit proven only on our own planet). While fixed estimates now range from that number to over 90 billion, all they really show is a pattern of enlargement of the size of the Universe. A little bonus mind bender; how can we know if our measurements in distance are moving slower or faster than the expansion of the Universe? And, until we do, even if it were fixed in size, how would we ever know?
But wait! If you call in the next ten minutes, I'll throw in a double-bonus mind bomb.
We only have five senses—six, some say. How much is out there that we do not know about because of that limit? While theories and beliefs based on those theories abound about multiple Universes, or the “Multi-verse,” we are seeing two more problems with knowing our true speed, and therefore, our concept of time.
If there are multiple Universes, what if they are moving? And if they are moving, what are they moving in relation to? Is it just each other? Is it the unknown, true source? Is the Multi-verse, if it exists, simply another step up in size on the endless ladder we're climbing to try to find a fixed point in space? What is the Multi-verse a part of? And what is that thing a part of? And what is that thing a part of? This could go on infinitely, and if it does, then that means that true space itself is entirely irrelevant to true speed! That also means that our concept of time, while still in perfect relation to our more “local” space, relates to nothing absolute. And that means that we can't possibly know what time is or isn't. Even using our popular definition of time, we can't know which direction along its scale that we are moving.
It's really very conceivable; do you have proof that we aren't moving backward in time? Do you have proof that we aren't moving forward and backward in time on some cycle—maybe even some cycle that we are stuck in until we figure out how to escape from it? And if we did find that and figured out a way to escape, why would we? The only thing making you believe that we are moving forward in time is your mind calculating changes in what you can sense—that's it. There is no proof that those changes must necessarily occur as they do while moving forward in time, and you would never be aware if we started moving backward in time. Moving backward in time, at least relative to our definitions, would simply be stuff unhappening. Your total knowledge would decrease, medical conditions aside, and the total number of changes and developments would decrease. Things would grow younger and while it's perfectly sane to think, “Wouldn't I notice things growing younger,” it's incorrect; you would not notice things growing younger, because your mind is unlearning as you go. Think about how this might help explain déjà vu (an explanation that nobody has mentioned here, including in reference material)—perhaps some residual learning that failed to unhappen is with you, somehow, as you go backward, through the experience, for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or millionth time. And maybe that is where true growth is happening.
Time may be on an expansion and contraction cycle, and why not? Many now believe that the Universe is as well (because "local" space and time are inextricable).
I think that this impossible concept of which direction in time we're moving is, even with our uncertainty about what time is, in some part, why many believe we can travel forward in time but never backward. The concept of things being undone, meaning things that happened actually unhappening, is not comfortable in our thinking. The belief uses various theories and paradoxes about why backward time travel isn't possible, yet no proof. The underlying belief is that we can move forward through time while, perhaps, gaining no new knowledge until we get there and start observing again, but that we can't have things unhappen. My view is that we need to stop staying comfortable in our thinking and truly let our thinking run free, whether we're talking about our true speed as humans or anything else, which brings me to my only sensible conclusion.
The onus is upon scientists to let go of their egos and stop trying to be right about something that cannot be proven right (and that goes for anybody else, myself included). If they start thinking that way—if all of us start thinking that way—the explosion in the speed of learning for humankind WILL be absolute because we know what “no learning” and “learning” is, and now we have a concept of what “unlearning” is, and that absolute gain in speed will be relatively impressive compared to our speed of learning today.
Thanks for reading!