Friday, April 29, 2016

A Dream Within a Dream

Science is an interesting topic, but you have to wonder what National Geographic hopes to accomplish by presenting doomsday scenarios, with authoritative voices like Hakeem Oluseyi to tell how we might be able to survive a neutron star or some other cosmic collision.  However, the episode that caught my eye the other night was a scenario in which an ice meteor strikes the earth and causes the sea water to rise at such an alarming rate it would take a 10,000 foot sea wall to stave off total destruction.   I was hoping to find the video but no such luck.

It's bad enough we are destroying our planet due to our own devices, causing the global temperature and sea level to rise, but here is Dr. Hakeem telling us of situations we have absolutely no control over and would require massive efforts well beyond our collective will to combat or escape our dear planet, as the case may be.  It seems nothing we are doing can prepare ourselves for these cataclysmic events, which would lead one to ask, why bother?

This hopeless world view hardly encourages our society to cut down on carbon dioxide emissions or any other efforts to prolong our lives on earth.  As far as these scientists are concerned, the death sentence has already been written.  It's just a question of when.  Apparently, with knowledge comes the enormous burden of our inability to do anything about the great forces at work in our solar system.  We are just a blink of an eye in the cosmic history of time, an aberration perhaps.

Maybe we were never meant to unlock the great mysteries of our universe but rather live out our short lives in an unquestioning state of bliss as God imagined in Eden.  Unfortunately, the serpent beckoned Eve and the rest as they say is history.

What I find so odd about all these alarmist scenarios is how they dovetail with apocalyptic visions from the Bible.  If we are to buy into Oluseyi's hopeless scenarios, the only thing we have left is faith in a greater power taking the souls of those who believe in him to another plane of existence.  Fortunately, we have Morgan Freeman on Nat Geo to reinforce our faith in God.

Physically speaking, we can't even sustain a flight in space more distant than our moon, so how do we expect to get persons to another solar system where there might be a planet similar to ours?  If we are to accept the premises of movies like Interstellar, our only physical hope is a wormhole in space, where on some far distant planet we can deposit our seeds and start live anew.

I suppose the real driving force behind these shows are ratings, as there is nothing Americans love more than a good Doomsday yarn, and who better to tell one than scientists, who can lend them an air of plausibility,  Nat Geo is now owned by Fox Cable Networks.  Discovery Channel is part of a conglomerate that also owns TLC, Oprah Winfrey Network, Animal Planet, among others.  Blending fact with fiction has become necessary to keep up in this competitive television market.  Even Neil Degrasse Tyson had to resort to clever new ways to present Cosmos.  There's no longer room for science for science's sake.  Science has to be entertaining.

Tyson has thrown more fuel on the fire by suggesting that maybe space is nothing more than a simulation, the ultimate "reality show" being watched by aliens getting a good laugh out of our futile efforts, or that space is a giant fun house of mirrors reflecting images or "virtual universes."   I suppose in this strange way, Doomsday becomes a reality show within a reality show, or as Edgar Alan Poe evocatively wrote, a dream within a dream.

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