Thankful for the information

Like many folks at this time of year, I try to give some thought to the things for which I have cause to be grateful. And I can immediately tick off the usual: life, health, a modicum of comfort, a bit of sanity, a loving family, good friends, interesting work. Any man who had nearly as much should show a little gratitude.

But I have other needs and occasions for gratitude, too. I’m a bit of a propeller-head–a little nerdy, a little ovoid in the noggin, if you will. So I was pleased to spot this headline in my daily EarthSky e-newsletter: “Gravity and Higgs boson interacted to save the universe.”

Time line of the universe via NASA/WMAP Science Team

Time line of the universe via NASA/WMAP Science Team

Physicists had been scratching their heads since the Higgs boson was discovered in 2012. Their numbers said the Big Bang should have been a Big Bust—one second of expansion, then out like a cheap lighter. But gravity came riding to the rescue. Interaction with the curve of spacetime itself was enough to overcome the “Higgs instability.”

Whatever that is when it is at home I couldn’t say. As a lowly English major, my main source of cosmological data in my formative years was Firesign Theater:

“In the beginning there were hot lumps. Noiselessly they sang in the dense void.”

Anyway, thanks gravity. You’re a peach.

I also love me a good infographic, and the NASA one accompanying the article? Also a peach–13.7 billions years of history at a glance. According to it:

“In the beginning there was quantum fluctuation. Following faster-than-light inflation the afterglow lasted 380,000 years. Then 400 million years of darkness until the first stars appear.”

Wowsers, makes my head inflate at a ferocious rate. Pretty dramatic, too. So we should be grateful that we live in the era of  “Dark Energy Accelerated Expansion.” One season of winter will be darkness enough.

Thank you, dark energy. Thank you, NASA.


2 Comments on “Thankful for the information”

  1. Joan Howlett says:

    Nice summation of the biggest mystery ever.

  2. Deb Packard says:

    And what an ovoid noggin it is. Everythin’s as clear as mud now!

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