But my uncle's post called to me for some reason. It could have been the witty sentence structure, engineered into a delightfully intentional grammatical oversight, making my funny bone chuckle a warm and hearty hyuk yuk yuk. Or it could have been the fact that I usually feel compelled to "like" his submissions, as much for their genuine enjoyability as my hope that he'll "like" my material in return, endorsing my palsy attempts at humour for his inner circle peeps to see. Or maybe, just maybe, it reminded me about the discovery of the century which was made just one week prior.
Now, I'm not much for keeping up with current affairs. That would require vigilant and thorough research on my part, spending a vast majority of time keeping abreast of countless daily news topics and current events, propping my eyelids open with mint toothpicks to absorb it all. Oh, and an attention span; can't do research without one of those. So, yeah, I tend to stay in the comfy darkness afforded to me by living under a big, flat rock.
However, I am a bit of a geek. Like many kids, my childhood dream was to become an astronaut. But, like most of those same kids, I was distraught to learn that astronauts needed to have exceptionally high academic scores to even have a chance at glimpsing low orbit. My marks were good, I guess, could have even raised them to "great" with a little effort, but as a continuous day-dreaming nine year old muddle student, my ambition was a little on the lazy side. Truth be told, I was hoping I could gain astronaut status by taking part in an experimental-monkey-shot-out-into-space kind of mission, where my presence and level of involvement would be comparable to the petri dish bacteria colonies stored on board for observation, along with a paper bag full of dirty mushrooms which would be studied to determine if fungi seemed to enjoy barreling through the blackness of space in a giant tin can.
My dream of exploring the cosmos in a spacecraft has not yet come to fruition (keep those fingers crossed), though I'm still keenly interested in space stuff, dorking it up whenever I hear news of a newly discovered planet or galactic event never before seen. And boy, did we hear some stellar (see what I did there?) news last week!
WE DISCOVERED AND DETECTED GRAVITATIONAL WAVES!
...really? You don't care? Dang.
I'm going to assume your lack of enthusiasm is simply due to a lack of information. Trust me, once you understand the significance of this discovery you'll shit yourself.
Basically, the brainiest nerds on the planet detected a distortion in spacetime, a ripple in the universe itself which, apparently, was caused by the collision of two giant black holes some 1.3 billion years ago. The merger sent off massive shockwaves throughout space which, when carefully measured and analyzed, show that time and space can be manipulated, stretched, contracted and bent! Einstein theorized this a long friggin' time ago, and now it's been proven! Do you need to change your knickers yet?
For the sci-fi crowd, this discovery brings some new muscle to the time-travel party, reinforcing many theories supporting travel through time and space since, as we now have evidence validating this, time and space can ultimately be manipulated. Yeah, okay, we just need to wrangle up a couple nasty massive black holes to harness enough energy to do it as far as we know at this point, but it can be done!
And, as much as time travel sounds super cool (and who wouldn't want to travel back to the late Cretaceous and ride a Triceratops?), the discovery of gravitational waves means something far more practical and valuable.
Until now, we've basically been studying the universe by sight, measuring and analyzing data which returns to us by light emitted from deep in the cosmos. But now, we can listen as well! The waves are translated into sonic wavelengths so we mere mortals can interpret the information. Now we can spy on all the dark, secret stuff out there in the vastness of space, stuff that doesn't let us in visually into their realms. Think about it. Until now, black holes (super-dense collapsed, dead stars) have been vastly theorized about with the only visual evidence of their existence being the demise of other stars that get too close. Black holes are so ridiculously dense and have such strong gravity that even light cannot escape their grasp, so we can't see them. But now we can listen and hear what they have to say, thanks to gravitational waves in the fabric of spacetime.
How else can I say this... Okay, here. I'll paint you a bit of a scene.
Imagine you are standing in your home, observing your loving spouse and child interacting together. They run off together, away and down the hallway, adult chasing the kid in what looks like a playful manner, disappearing around a corner. Dinner is left cooking on the stovetop, delicate wisps of steam emanating from the pan.
That's a nice scenario, isn't it? Warms my heart just thinking about it. Now, close your eyes, and we'll go through the scene again, only this time we'll just listen for information...
Your spouse is yelling at your kid "get back here!", stomping away like a club-footed rhinoceros. Your spawn, giggling like a deranged little idiot, is chasing after the cat, which is meowling hideously. They round a corner, bumping off walls and knocking down picture frames which crash onto the ground into piles of broken glass and splintered wood. The cat hisses and growls, then the kid cries, probably from getting scratched. The entire time, the smoke alarm is wailing away, signalling that dinner was ready 10 minutes ago.
See how much more information we can get from listening? (Huh. Weird. Think I Just got a déjà-vu about something my wife has said to me before.) Up to this point, the universe has mostly been a big, dark, quiet emptiness. But now it's a big, dark, noisy emptiness, which, here's the idea, might turn out to not be so empty after all. This is the beginning of a new era in universal discoveries. Now that we can hear things which we couldn't see before, it's positively mind-numbing to think of the wondrous things we might learn about in our lifetimes. But, who knows? Maybe we won't like what we hear and we'd rather roll around through space in blissful, silent ignorance, oblivious to the dark interstellar monsters that lurk just outside our solar system.
Nah. Sign me up for the next space monkey launch, I'm good to go.
Want to learn actual science and not some blogger's summarized ramblings? Check out The Guardian
Chances are, most people are no longer friends with their old high school pals once real life settles in. Maybe for a few years after graduation people manage to keep in touch here and there, either through parties or old hangouts, but eventually the bonds of high school camaraderie tend to break down like stretched out chewing gum, inevitably tearing apart for good. Oh sure, you might still be considered "friends" through social platforms like Facebook and the like, showing support for others' statuses or posts, but for the most part (exceptions are, of course, life-long friends whose relationships are far more profound than normal-level friends) people never really spend time together like they did when they were younger. It's not that any cataclysmic or profound event caused these friendships to drift apart, it's just life. People and their interests change, that's all.
And you know what?! It seems like people's interests change all the time! Have you noticed this, too? If you have a kid, you definitely know what I'm talking about. Luckily, my little half-pint is still too young to form any strong opinion for himself yet; he wears what we tell him to, no fuss. It's actually a lot of fun seeing what we can get away with at this point. And to this date, no calls from Child Services, so we're doing good at just staying below the radar.
My folks, however, never stop telling me how much of an annoying little wishy-washy shit I was. So if you are or ever were in the same boat as them, you know all too well how your miniaturized version of yourself can enter and exit phases faster than your member of parliament can change their stance on pretty much anything. As soon as you get your kid's room all decked out in their favourite super-hero's overpriced bed sheets, towels, and limited-edition printed toilet paper, they tell you it's all too mainstream and now want everything blank, not willing to sell out their five-year old street cred to just any gluttonous corporation looking to feast on wanton consumer indulgence. Try finding anything blank in a kid's size 7. It can't be done! Commercial licensing rights flow through clothing manufacturers' wares like the sweat of the orphans making them. After months of fruitless search at every store in town, out-of-province and ultimately outer-space, my resourceful parents eventually found inspiration in Robert Munsch's The Paperbag Princess. It was practically their Bible. Grocery stores became their clothing stores, at least as far as their kid's wardrobe was concerned. And I'm not afraid to tell you, the venting afforded through an upside-down paper bag to a young boy is actually a welcome benefit, especially during my ascension into puberty at the tender age of sixteen. Always a bit of a procrastinator, I was.
But it doesn't matter how young or old someone is, they all eventually amend their own personal settings on an individual level. As the years on calendars change, so do people's interests, life goals, and waist sizes. Nothing is ever constant. Some guy was once quoted as saying "The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change" It was Heraclitus. How's that for research, huh? But more importantly, how's that for a truth? No one can argue with that. Some things may look like they don't change, even for millions of years, but they do. Physically, spiritually, mentally, atomically, it all changes. Even my opinion on this. Today I say that the only constant is change. I adamantly hold on to that opinion, you can't change my mind, I'll say. But come to me later with a hundred bucks to say exactly the opposite and you can bet I'll sell out that little truth for money. Shoot, I'll even make t-shirts that have "Change is a myth, everything stays the same, always." printed on them. I came a long way, haven't I? From youthful idealism free of corporate influence to selling out for just a bit more than the price of a tank of gas. See how people change?
My point is this. People will change, you can't fight it. They might even pretend to like something you like so they can use you. And since my loving wife isn't in the room at the moment to stop me, I'll use her as an example. When I was hopelessly smitten with her during our teenage dating years, one of our favourite things to do was watching monster movies together -The Thing, Alien, Tremors, Mrs. Doubtfire - and cuddling up close. Some nights, we'd have friends watch movies with us, and whenever the other girls would scream and cover their eyes, my future wife would tell them to just quit being babies and watch the next scene. I knew I'd found something special.
Eventually, we were married. But then I found work out of town, and my once vampire-slayer of a bride wouldn't watch scary movies anymore. My not being home several nights a week wrought too much scarium (Check Table of Elements #119) into her overactive imagination. Only if I were back home every night would she indulge in our old tradition once more. So I found different work, and I was home every night, looking oh so forward to creepy movies with my better half.
"Sorry, hon, I can't do scary movies anymore," she said.
Turns out divorce lawyers charge, like, six hundred bucks an hour, so that option was out. I was into it for the long haul then. I'd been swindled by the love of my life! Duped, hoodwinked, fleeced and hornswoggled! I never felt so used. This was a decade-long, deep cover infiltration operation for my wife to first get married, gain access into my pants, and ultimately start a family, that little shrew! I can't believe how she...I mean, the nerve of her to...but...but... Tremors 5 recently came out...eee....
Ah, forget it. It's not really important, is it? So I've lost one itty-bitty little thing we once had. Big deal. I've got some good buddies who love watching monster movies too, and though they tend to squirm uncomfortably when I try to cuddle, it's a good time. Besides, I've gained so much more in my adult life in exchange for a silly old teenage ritual. I have an undeniably beautiful, loving and supportive wife, a wonderful little boy who reminds me constantly the importance of living in the moment, and a life I wouldn't trade to anyone for anything. So keep your hundred bucks. Things change. People change. And that's the way it oughta be.