This is the inaugural post of my new, “secondary,” blog, “Iterations of Zero,” in which I’ll be posting thoughts, essays, articles, musings, and other related synonyms on areas of philosophy, politics, justice, science, and the like. These haven’t seemed very popular on my main blog: robertelessar.com. I suppose that’s not too terribly surprising. My main blog has evolved to be mainly focused on writing, publishing, the creative process, and some occasional personal events. People who are interested in the process of creative writing and publishing, or in the demented thought process of a writer, may not be too chuffed to come upon articles decrying the many horrors and stupidities of our criminal justice system, or the systematic failures of our education systems, or the flawed reasoning that pervades a frustrating proportion of our society. Nevertheless, I have much to say on many matters not directly related to creative writing, and I also want to share posts I have already written in a venue that may connect them to more interested readers.
Thus, I have decided to create this new blog. I had tried doing something like this once before, but it was too focused on the criminal justice system, and was also done on Blogger, through Google, which just wasn’t as good a service as WordPress. That’s not too surprising, I suppose. WordPress has been doing this longer, as far as I know, and it’s basically what they do. Sometimes trying to be good at everything can bite you in the ass. Or as the cliché goes, “If you chase two rabbits, they will both get away.” Hmm, maybe that advice could even apply to me, with respect to this blog. Oh, well, we’ll have to wait and see on that one. Sometimes when you chase two rabbits, you catch two rabbits.
As for the title of this blog: it comes from a few combined notions that I have long found intriguing, and refers to the fact that the universe may have a total, net energy of zero. This is because the positive energy of ordinary matter, dark matter, the strong force, the weak force, the electromagnetic force, and so on, appears to be pretty closely balanced by the negative energy of gravity, based (as I understand it) on the fact that the curvature of the universe is so close to flat (on the largest scales), as accurately as we can measure it, that it’s a very good first approximation simply to say that it is flat. So, in other words, the universe would be a net zero, if that’s the case. This is much better explained by Lawrence Krauss in his book “A Universe from Nothing,” as well as the lecture that inspired that book (one of the best talks I have ever seen on YouTube, and more than worth your time to view, and to view again).
In addition, I was intrigued by an idea that I first encountered in the writings of Richard Feynman (if memory serves). An electron and a positron colliding and changing into photons can be described as simply one particle giving off a photon (or two, really) in the forward direction of time while reversing its own direction of time (an electron and a positron are the same particle going different directions in time, it seems). Thus, Feynman said, one can imagine the universe being composed of one particle—though I prefer to consider one pair of particles, virtual particles that spontaneously occur in any vacuum due to the Uncertainty Principle—that is switching back and forth in time and space, exchanging bosons with itself, changing energies, changing identities, and expanding into all the oodles of particles we encounter, and of which we are made. This is not really a serious hypothesis about the origin of the universe (it seems to me to have trouble with the Higgs field, but I may just not be imagining well enough about that), but it’s a fun thing to imagine. I once started drawing out a picture in pseudo-Feynman diagrams of how such a particle might first expand into space-time. Then I inserted an ellipsis, and went to the end, where the particle once again winnowed itself down to its original, singular nature. One could also imagine, if it started out as a pair of virtual particles, that pair returning to their original forms and then—as virtual particles do—winking out of existence, leaving not even a smile behind to remind anyone that the universe had existed.
Some people might find such an idea—that everything is just iterations of zero, as it were—depressing, but I find it liberating. In a way, each person’s life is just like the course of a virtual particle. You start from nonexistence, you exist for a while, having impacts, making phenomena occur, occasionally (rarely) even being measurable, but then winking out of existence at the end. It doesn’t matter that you go away, though (and according to General Relativity, the past is never truly gone, and the future already exists), it’s what you do while you exist that matters. It also means that it’s okay to make mistakes while you figure out the right thing for you to do while you’re here. And it means that you should embrace the precious time you’re given before you vanish again. Try to be one of those particles that has a measurable impact on the rest of the world, if you’re so inclined.
Okay, that’s enough of that, for now. I’m almost done for today, but I want to let you know that I am going to be moving pertinent blog entries from my blog at robertelessar.com to this blog (and taking them off that blog at the same time), to keep the foci of the blogs separate. So, if you want to read about my books, my creative writing, my process of writing, and some of my personal events—as well as the occasional short or not-so-short story—go by all means to robertelessar.com.
But if you want to read my thoughts, insights, puzzlements, judgments, and pronouncements on philosophical, political, legal, scientific, and related matters, then come here, to iterationsofzero.wordpress.com. I hope you’ll feel free to comment and initiate discussions—thoughtful ones, please—and that we can all learn from each other.
In the meantime…