2010-12-02

The Big NASA Reveal and Other Thoughts

Later today, more specifically 2:00 pm, NASA has given the public a teaser that it will be making a big announcement concerning astrobiology.  Sorry to burst anyone's bubble, but they haven't found extraterrestrial life.  At least not any who have human-identifiable space craft and communicate through a little dueling light-up electric sound machine when they reach out to other planets.

Based on what I have read on this subject, the likely announcement is that arsenic-based life is possible.  Up until now, we have only understood and detected phosphorus-based life forms (or the absence thereof).

This is actually not only remarkable, but also an indication of the imminent future of science.  I think science is at a critical point where many breakthroughs hinge not on the discovery of something far away, but of a change in our ability to perceive our surroundings. 

Since Einstein decided to be a super-genius and throw his atomic and relativity theories at us, an entire branch of science is rooted in phenomena which we can calculate accurately, yet our eyes can not see.  We know for a fact certain phenomena exist, yet the human mind can't produce an image when the event is witnessed.  Just the concept that space and time are not two things, but one thing, with the terms 'space' and 'time' describing two of the attributes is impossibly confusing based on normal perception.  We know this is true, and we know the implications:  linear time is a construct of the brain.  Outside of our perception, one moment does not follow the next.  Yet, there is no way to view the world as having four dimensions.  We can't see the fourth dimension because we are stuck in three dimensions.

The challenge we face in the modern world, I believe, has much to do with an approaching paradigm shift.  A paradigm is what is considered 'fact' or 'real' by society, based on perception.  If anything occurs that violates the conditions within the 'real world' of the paradigm, this is labeled an 'anomaly.'  This means it is a fluke, not evidence that the current paradigm has lost relevancy.  The shift occurs when instances of anomaly are equal to or greater than instances of normalcy.

The most obvious evidence of the approaching shift, I believe, can be found in the science closest to us:  medicine.  A projected 50-60% of Americans have a form of depression.  I do not believe, as some do, that this is a medical conspiracy attempting to sell psychiatric medication.  The truth is, based on our current definitions of normal, more than half of our citizens fail to meet the criteria.  More people associate themselves with the current concept of unhappiness than with happiness.  There must be a tipping point when we accept that denying the majority of people's viewpoint has no productive value.  A similar phenomenon is occurring with diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders.  New standards for measuring early child development are increasingly being published by autism organizations, and emphasize the need to have all children tested 'just in case.'  Not bad advice, if physicians are considered a reliable source of proper care.  In new guidelines endorsed by the American Association of Pediatrics it is actually recommended that a parent's observations be treated nearly as seriously as diagnosis by a physician.  The standards are aimed at preventive checking, so any developmental "delay" is considered a potential sign of autism.  When reading through the new infant and toddler milestones parents are advised to look for, my impression was that the kids born with 140 IQs, who are advanced in both physical agility and language acquisition are off the hook.  The other 99% of the population may get slapped with an autism diagnosis before they are even old enough to say "dada."

If no one fits the definition of 'normal' it means our perception is being challenged to expand;  not that everyone is just wrong, bad, or disfunctional.  Medicine offers concrete examples of rapidly eroding facts and standards, but the same thing is found in a society which doesn't understand how to recognize anything other than phosphorus based life, or one where scientists can calculate that one subatomic particle can be in fifty different places at once and yet cannot see it with their eyes. 

I think we are getting closer and closer to our own version of hearing that the Earth is not the center of the solar system.  Whoever is the most right in their claims will be declared insane, a heretic.  Be wary of those who propose convenient solutions, like human weakness (greed, scheming, manipulation) as the reason for the gap between what we know and what we see.  It's the most unbelievable claim that will eventually blow the lid off our increasingly stifling concept of reality.

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