Thursday, June 30, 2011

Reality as we know it does not really exist.

We humans think, talk and perceive in terms of separate identities, meaning, happiness, sadness, desire, justice, countries, governments, up, down, left, right, good, bad, easy, hard, normal, insane, and on and on and on.
These are all things that exist only in our minds, and therefore exist only on our teeny tiny little rock of a planet. They don’t exist anywhere else, at all. We don’t know why the universe is here, but there are billions of light years of stars and galaxies that are just there, burning, with no notion of any of the stories that we have invented. They’re neutral. Every human story, from identity to justice, is localized. It exists only where we are and only where we think it.
Here’s an analogy:
Imagine a huge field of trees. And I mean huge. Let’s say it’s 100 million square miles of densely packed trees.
Now imagine that one of the trees is blue. One of them. At one of the corners of the 100 million square mile field, there is one tree that is blue. Surely we recognize this as an anomaly, and we recognize that it is not a condition universal among the field, and in fact the vast, vast majority of the field is green and has no trace or hint of blue; it just doesn’t exist.
The same is true in the universe, involving all the things that humans take to be components of their reality. The entire paradigm in which we perceive reality is confined to our planet! Our entire way of thinking about life is not a constant throughout the universe. Our planet is like that blue tree. We have made up billions of stories, starting with the story of “me” as a separate identity (more on this in future posts), and we somehow feel like life “is” what is happening on this planet. That in life there is misery, in life there is happiness, in life there is good and bad. All these things don’t exist anywhere else. We made them up! Imagine reality from the perspective of our sun for a minute. Or from Mars. Or from the other stars and galaxies.
Can you see how tiny our planet is compared to what’s around it? And how nothing outside of this planet is telling the stories we tell? Reality as we know it, as we live it on this rock, does not exist. All the concepts and stories that make up our everyday lives are complete fiction. 
Our entire reality is confined to this rock. Outside of this rock there are no stories. No happiness, no sadness, no good or bad, no justice or injustice, no peace or war, nothing. These are the fictional building blocks of our projected realities. Everywhere else, there is just existence.

The Universe is really, really big.

I love pondering over the size of the universe, and coming up with different calculations to try and grasp just how big it is. When I look around me on this planet in everyday life, I feel like a lot of people aren’t actually aware of how massive it is. So, please join me as I attempt to present numbers and analogies in a graspable way.
First of all, as I’m sure a lot of you know, our sun is 93 million miles from earth. Uranus, which is the most distant planet in our solar system, is 1.59 billion miles away. It would take 17.7 years to fly to the sun in a fast jet plane, and 302.5 years to fly to Uranus.
The speed of light is 186,000 miles per second, 669.6 million miles per hour, or 5.86 trillion miles per year. Light is 1,116,000 times as fast as a jet plane, meaning it travels 211 miles for every 1 foot the plane travels.
At the speed of light, the sun is only 8.33 minutes away, and Uranus is 2 hours and 22 minutes away. Imagine that. Traveling at a speed of 186,000 miles every second (7.44 entire loops around the equator of the earth in each second), it takes 2 hours and 22 minutes to reach the farthest planet in our solar system. That’s a very long time for such a speed. But remember, it would take 302.5 years to cover the same distance in a plane.
So, now that we have a concept of how large our solar system is, and how fast the speed of light is, let’s begin to look out at the rest of our galaxy. If you set up a miniature solar system in Seattle, WA, and placed the sun about 60 feet from the earth, the nearest other star to us would have to be put in Boston, MA, for the scale to be in proportion. This star is called Proxima Centauri, and it is 4.2 light years from the earth. Light years. Remember how it took 2 hours and 22 minutes to reach Uranus at 186,000 miles per second? Well, it takes 4.2 years to reach Proxima Centauri at the same speed, and that is the nearest star to us other than our sun. It is 24.6 trillion miles away. 264,902 times the distance of the sun.
Betelgeuse is another nearby star, about 640 light years from the earth. Traveling at the speed of light (669.6 million miles an hour, 186,000 miles a second) it would take 640 years to reach Betelgeuse. Why do I say this is nearby? Because the galaxy is 100,000 light years in diameter, and 1,000 light years in thickness. If you put a model of the milky way galaxy covering all of the state of texas, our sun would be 0.2 millimeters from earth. That’s right. To fit our galaxy within the borders of texas, our sun has to be a fifth of a millimeter from the earth.
There are 200-400 billion stars in the milky way galaxy, and approximately 50 billion planets. So, with the galaxy being 100,000 light years across, Proxima Centauri and Betelgeuse, lying 4.2 and 640 light years from us, do turn out to be merely our close neighbors, even though Centauri is 264,902 times the distance of the sun, and Betelgeuse is 40.4 million times the distance of the sun. 40.4 million times the distance. This is approximately 5.05 miles from the earth and sun on our texas scale.
So, we have a concept of the size of the milky way galaxy now, and you can imagine how, if it were the entire universe, it would at least be a theoretically plausible proposition to wrap one’s head around the size of it. But the actual reality is truly ungraspable. We can lay out mathematical analogies and know theoretically what the distances are, but there is no way for the human mind to really comprehend it or imagine it clearly.
The milky way galaxy is just one out of about 200 billion galaxies in the observable universe.
Our neighbor galaxy, Andromeda, is 2.5 million light years away, and is one of the closest other galaxies to us. There are some others that are slightly closer, but Andromeda is considered our main neighbor galaxy because it’s a spiral galaxy, just like the milky way, and it looks cool.
Think about this. We’re still talking about that pace of 186,000 miles per second. How could it take 2.5 million years to get somewhere at that speed? Can you imagine the distance? For 2.5 million years you’re moving 186,000 miles every single second. See why I said it’s ungraspable?
2.5 million light years is only twenty five times the diameter of the milky way. So if we made a 10 square foot model of the milky way, Andromeda would be 250 feet away from it. Not very far. Hence why it’s our neighbor galaxy. However, keep in mind that the milky way galaxy is actually 586 quadrillion miles across (100,000 light years), not 10 feet. The galaxies are only close if you’re thinking in terms of those sizes.
So, where are the rest of the 200 billion galaxies? (Take a minute to remember how big the milky way galaxy is, from the distances to Uranus and the sun, to the nearby stars, etc. There are 200 billion galaxies, all in the general size range of the milky way). They’re spread out throughout the observable universe, which is about 13.7 billion years old, and 93 billion light years in diameter.
Until now we’ve talked about light seconds (186,000 miles each), light minutes, light hours, and even light years on massive scales, from the 100,000 light year diameter of the milky way, to the 2.5 million light year distance to our neighbor galaxy Andromeda.
Now, we’re talking about the universe being 93 billion light years in diameter. Traveling at 186,000 miles every second, 11.1 million miles every minute, 669.6 million miles every hour, 16 billion miles every day, and 5.86 trillion miles every year, it would take you 93 billion years to span the universe. 93 billion light years is 37,200 times the distance between us and Andromeda. So, if you somehow travelled at the speed of light, and somehow lived to be 2.5 million years old, and made it to Andromeda, it would be like starting off on a journey from Seattle to Boston, and covering a couple blocks.
One last image: If the universe was the size of the earth, the earth would be 1.17 femtometers in diameter. A femtometer is one quadrillionth (or one millionth of a billionth) of a meter. There are one trillion femtometers in a millimeter.
The Universe is really, really big.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The real reason people like “open minded” people.

I’m sure at one time or another (probably at several), you’ve heard someone joyously talk about some new person they met, and how amazing that person was, partly because they were so open-minded. You may have had this experience yourself. After all, who likes to have a conversation with somebody who isn’t willing to budge one inch when it comes to their beliefs and mindset?
You do.
If they agree with what you say.
See, this is the semi-hidden reality about open minded and close minded people. What people enjoy is someone who agrees with them. They could not care less if the person is close minded, as long as their “stuck” beliefs are in alignment with theirs. We enjoy “open minded” people, simply because they are quick to agree with us when we present new ideas. And if an “open minded” person simply feels there isn’t enough evidence for what you tell them, you’ll call that person close minded too, even if they aren’t.
The bottom line is that if a close minded person disagrees with us, we call them close minded, and if a close minded person agrees with us, we call them intelligent. And the same applies for open minded people. To lay it out more clearly:
Close-minded, agrees with us. Intelligent.
Close-minded, disagrees with us. Close-minded.
Open-minded, agrees with us. Open-minded (Intelligent).
Open-minded, disagrees with us. Close-minded.
See how simple it is? It’s about nothing but agreement. We enjoy people who agree with us. It’s not about open minded or close minded. You only recognize a close minded person as close minded if their ideas clash with yours, and you only recognize an open minded person as open minded if they change their ideas to match yours. So the next time you have a great time visiting with someone who was quick to adopt your viewpoints as their own, be honest and say “I enjoyed spending time with that person so much because they agreed with everything I said!”

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

All mammals are attachment parents.

It's an interesting thought, isn't it? Hundreds of thousands of species of mammals on the planet, and every single one of them practices attachment parenting, except for a large portion of the homo sapiens.
For those that don't know, attachment parenting essentially means being close with your children, nursing them, sleeping with them, and listening and responding to their primal needs and instincts. This is a contrast to the typical western upbringing, which involves disconnect between parent and child from an early age, starting with little to no nursing, putting them in a separate room to sleep, and not paying heed to their basic emotional needs.
I find it ludicrous that a term such as "attachment parenting" even exists. Let me give you an analogy for what this term really is like. Imagine that for a few thousand years, humans began eating by forcing food up their rectums, instead of putting it in their mouth. Then, an "alternative" group of "new age" people come along with this "radical" idea. They say "hey, why don't we eat the way we're supposed to by nature? It's healthier and makes more sense."
These people become known as "oral eaters." Everybody else, shoving food up their rectums, remain simply "eaters" in the official definitions of the species, but those who have returned to the way things are supposed to be are given a special label. "Oral eating." This is exactly the same as "Attachment parenting." They're giving the original, natural, healthy way of doing things an alternative name, as though it is the odd thing, and saying that what everybody else is doing is the norm or standard. Sure, it's the norm among western cultures in the last few hundred years, but are people really that self centered? They determine what is normal and healthy for mammals based on what they and their friends have been doing, and what certain human cultures have been doing in the last sliver of human history?
The type of language we use is important. Language is the only means through which we can communicate complex ideas to each other, and the only way through which we can convey intangible things to each other. I propose that "attachment parenting" be renamed simply "parenting" and the current conventional western parenting method be renamed "detachment parenting."
"Parenting" vs. "Detachment parenting" much more accurately describes the nature of the two ways of raising children, and exposes the reality of what the majority of parents are doing. If we use accurate language, people practicing detachment parenting will become far less comfortable with it than they currently are, and that will motivate them to move back towards Parenting.

A dull Tuesday afternoon.

It's a dull tuesday afternoon up here on Orcas Island. I'm staying here with my parents for the summer, and then returning to Seattle in the fall to do my last year of studies at the University of Washington. I'm majoring in Viola performance.
I'm also taking a couple writing classes online this summer, which may or may not have influenced by decision to start a blog. I mean, I have always liked writing.
I'm twenty years old, by the way. I didn't mention that in my first post. I'm turning twenty-one on July 25th, so pretty soon.
Early this afternoon I watched the first act of the opera Die Walküre by Richard Wagner. It's absolutely fantastic. Some of the most beautiful music ever written, and performed amazingly by the Metropolitan Opera with James Levine conducting.
There are so many things I want to write about here, I'm having trouble deciding what to start with. Needless to say, I'm going to be posting a lot here in the near future.
Stay tuned!


Hello everybody,
My name is Lennon Aldort. I am a musician by trade, but I also am really into psychology and philosophy (not in the academic way), and enjoy writing. I play piano, violin and viola, and I also compose music. I have a website and a youtube channel.
I think a lot about everything I perceive in life, so in this blog I will be sharing my thoughts on a wide variety of topics, from healthy eating, opera, government, family and society, to musings on the nature of existence, science, time, space, etc.