Thursday, October 04, 2007

Baffled of Dunoon

Over breakfast this morning (yes, I was late) I found myself listening to an extraordinarily mind-boggling conversation on Melvyn Bragg's programme. At first it was just background burbling, until this sentence hit me:
"There is something subtly different between matter and anti-matter, and that's what we're trying to find out."
And when I'd poured another cup of tea:
"There's an awful lot more out there .... Dark matter emitting spectral light ....Dark because it doesn't shine, but it has gravity, so it's stuff."
Stuff. What a pleasantly ordinary word. I love it when scientists speak like the rest of humanity. Like when one of them butted in with the information that "you can tell whether the stars are coming at you or going away from you." Oh, that's all right then. What a terrifying thought that they might be coming towards us. Then another voice came in:
"We need some further phenomenon that is going to explain all that we have."
And it was at this point that Melvyn Bragg - whom I admire immensely for his ability to chair a discussion such as this in such a way that he appears to follow it - suggested that God might be there somewhere. He didn't do it as baldly as that, but via Arthur Koestler, as befits a literary man. The scientists laughed agreeably. By this time they were on to quarks - the building blocks of all that we know. There are six in all, in three generations. By this time I was severely fuddled, losing the thread briefly as I clutched at the idea of "a kaon with a very strange quark"(I had to look up "kaon" to get the spelling; this is steam radio I'm dealing with), but they were back to anti-matter by the time I recovered. Apparently they have to keep anti-matter in magnetic bottles. Why? Because it destroys matter. You can't just whack it into a Thermos. But it has its uses - in a pet scanner, apparently. A touching vision of all this wonderful science being used to treat a poorly cat was soon dispelled. It's a PET scanner.

So yes, over breakfast I learned some new stuff. That quark isn't just cheese and that it's much easier to believe in God than in the scientific explanation of the universe. Perhaps that's why one scientist's remark stuck cheerily in my mind:
"Cosmologists tend to get quite biblical discussing this."
And well they might. Amen.


  1. When you get down to it - science doesn't explain where all of 'it' - whatever it is - first came from. To have a big bang, there had to be something - created by God?

  2. I rarely do this, as it's not really the done thing, you know. But as there seems to be some sort of synchronicity going on her may I point you to the post of mine, "The God of Small Stuff," that you can find at:

    Let me know what you think.

  3. MP, I'm completely fascinated. I've commented briefly at your place, but, more fawningly, will add that you put it rather more cohesively than I. (And yes, that is correct, grammatically). And how good to have a touch of synchronicity.