From Phil Plait, the best thing you’ll read today, about neutrinos traveling from a supernova 9.5 billion light years away, at nearly the speed of light, and hitting the earth with a force so great that if they hit you you’d feel it.
Think about that. Imagine the force to propel a subatomic powerful across essentially the entire history of the universe, from before the earth had even formed, before the storms that brought water, before the tectonic processes that still shape our world had started, through that time, as we slowly formed in this planetary heartbeat, and looked up to the sky, and wondered, and were fearful of its power, and developed tools that let us see it, and even more powerful tools that let us understand it: and these particles shot through uncaring, through distances that we literally can’t imagine, but can somehow record. Fast enough through unchecked infinity so that you’d feel it. You wouldn’t know what, it would probably barely be even the slightest register, but maybe you’d know. Maybe you’ve felt it before, and maybe it was the tiniest prick, and you shuddered. You wondered what it was, what mystery just gave you pause. Have we all felt them? Have we all been riddled with reminders of cosmic indifference?
And do they carry with them the unknowing loneliness of existence? Do they carry a hint of the emptiness? It’s not that you touched the void, after all: the void slammed into you, and passed through like like you were a ghost, the tiniest ephemera. Which, to space, (as Plait reminds us) you are.
Dark thoughts, but in the end, they don’t matter. After all, we’re here, for the shortest breath, and that’s pretty goddamn cool. We get to be here when people can not just learn about, but write sentences like this.
And that mind-stompingly distant galaxy produced a hail of subatomic particles that shot across the cosmos at just a hair under the speed of light, passing galaxies and clouds of dust and gas and heaven knows what else, only to be stopped by a single molecule of frozen water on a tiny blue-green planet, creating a flash of light so faint it took sophisticated technology and advanced science to see it at all.
Remember this next time someone says scientists are dupes or frauds or don’t know what they’re doing.