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Copyright 2000 -- 2003 James J. Belcher.  All Rights Reserved. 

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Finishing Brushstrokes

 

      Chapter 1  

The Palace, Mahé, Seychelles, Indian Ocean

May 17, 2012

        The most powerful woman in the history of the world was delivering a speech.  She was born Marlene Schiller but had been addressed by her title since her first marriage in 1980.  Her title then: Baroness.  In 1992, her first husband died; she soon remarried, this time to the multi-billionaire erstwhile recluse who prospered as none had ever before.  Six sons and eighteen years later, she was a widow once more, and democratically elected to succeed him as Helper.  That was in 2010, a very busy eight hundred days ago.  The world was anxiously listening to her every word, since there had been no advance press release as to the subject matter. 

She began, as always, speaking congenially into the TV cameras, almost as if she were talking to people in her midst, but security forbade outsiders.  Despite the warm and friendly tone, there was a regal quality to her that would forever demonstrate that the blood of nine centuries of aristocratic Bavarian forebears coursed through her veins. 

As was usual custom, her address was simultaneously translated into over 400 languages and dialects, so her words were immediately understandable to over 99.5% of the world's people.

            "I bring you greetings from The Palace, where I'm wearing a pearl necklace given to me by my late husband some years ago.  I'm going to discuss certain aspects of science and technology, as well as my own religious convictions as they relate to that science.  In due course, I shall also announce another achievement, or rather the countdown to another shining moment for mankind, one that will technically blast off three years from today, the product of research and development that we have been working towards since 1994.  It's that sort of important technology that results when science is exploited and the power of an idea is overwhelming."

            She paused and beamed a wide grin.  She was a very contented woman and proud to set forth her opinions on the topics mentioned.  "This necklace has no beginning and no end.  It is a set of those relatively little spheres created by nature with man's assistance known as cultured pearls.  Each one has a small hole drilled through it and a silk cord connects them. It reminds me in a very special way of what our universe is like, according to certain scientists of the cosmos, among them Einstein, Feynmann, Hawking and Tipler.  Their science is relatively new, complex and not complete, but it is enough for me and my staff to realize opportunities and see that we avail ourselves of the best of mankind's possibilities."

            "Tonight I will outline the science and its theories.  Tomorrow night, I shall explore the general implications of this science, both as to its promises and possible pitfalls.  Thereafter, for one night weekly for some weeks, I (or a designated Palace staff member) shall explore various aspects of the science and relate them to what possibilities they mean, the things we can and should do and what we stand to achieve.  In my final address to you, I shall inform you of our decision and the very significant events that have prompted the achievements – past, present and future – that make up the announcement to which I first alluded.

            "On one hand, I thank my God for scientists, as they unlock the secrets and unravel the mysteries of our universe. I likewise thank my God for all the technicians, those users of science that transform discovery and theory into those things that sustain and enrich our existence.   Most of all, I sincerely pray and thank God each and every day for the blessing of life itself, and I particularly thank God for the blessing of humankind. 

"The true practice of religion is not merely a recitation of things said before or an observance of traditional rites, conventions or ceremonies.  It is instead an inward-felt commingling of knowledge and piety, of conviction and caring, of love of one's god or gods and service.  To me, God is always speaking, and I must carefully listen and try to understand.  Because I am human, I will necessarily make mistakes and some events will be major catastrophes despite my best efforts and those of all of us.  But if we listen, and if we use what is already known to know even more, then we can forever seek to use that greater knowledge to sustain and enrich ourselves to a greater degree.  In so doing, we can awake each day to a new dawning, one pregnant with hope and glorious possibilities, certain that life is good and continuously getting better.

"This was the core conviction of my pledge to you in 2010 and the basis upon which you elected me.  As expressed by my late husband, in that adage he used to illustrate so very much to me: 'Nothing, nothing is so powerful as an idea whose time has come.'

"Unfortunately, that is one side of the equation, one aspect of assessing the future.  I also understand that possibilities and hopes are nice things to discuss but the reality of existence for the majority of the men, women and children on this planet is a life far from glamorous or even very good.  Most of us inherit a legacy of toil and strife, limited means and more limited horizons. There are so-called developed countries, home to something less than one and one-half billion people, and other countries less fortunate, home to the other five-plus billion.  Yes, there are rich people in poor countries and vice versa, but reality is the rich countries getting richer and there is much grinding poverty for most of those born and living elsewhere.  This is the ugly side of our situation, as we study Planet!

"Furthermore, history is replete with examples of humans preying on and degrading other humans.  Without mentioning specific historic examples, we are aware of individuals, groups and even whole nations working in unity for evil purposes, in specific events and in long-term policy-driven modes of existence.  While every major religion and every ethical and moral code worthy of those names decry criminality and human exploitation, every civilization has necessarily established armed forces, for internal control and protection from external threats. To a large measure, policemen and armies exist because of society's fear of Evil's threats, individually and collectively, to its members.

"It's all too easy to shrug off Evil and ugliness and say 'But that's the way it's always been.'  Change is inevitable, either the change of conditions largely beyond our control and their effect on us, or the changes we create because of what we do, for and to each other.  The science of medicine has eradicated smallpox and polio and made great inroads in the prevention and beneficial treatment of many other diseases that once were considered normal and expected occurrences.  Agricultural sciences have allowed us to consistently grow more abundant and healthier crops and livestock.  The success of the World Food Program established by my dear deceased husband John has shown that necessary food and water are now available to every human in this world and that none need to go without. 

"Perhaps his greatest achievement was the implementation of that program, one he started but never lived to see completed.  Food may not always be in abundance or the very best quality in every locale, but basic dietary and nutritional needs have been met for everyone.  Starvation as such no longer haunts mankind.  On a larger frame of reference, we don't have to be deprived and suffer for want of basic needs if we as a people are willing to work together with that as a main purpose of our collective efforts.  Our united efforts can use theory to make better realities.

"Therefore, it is time for you to know what the cleverest of scientists have theorized.  I am going to tell you how a pearl necklace is a representation of several of their interrelated scientific thoughts.  Tomorrow night, you will be presented an explanation as to how these theories are in accord with my personal religious convictions and what these theories may someday mean to you and me."

She paused and took a breath.  What she had to get across wasn't easy, despite the best efforts of most listeners.  The reading material of scholars with the education and understanding of the elite isn't the average person's daily fare.  "In the beginning, or what most would call the beginning, was the big bang.  Everything there was and had ever been was a very concentrated, relatively tiny ball.  It may have even been smaller than the tip of a needle, but its exact size is irrelevant.  No light escaped the inward pull of its gravity, it was that dense and its mass was that great.  Like fissionable radioactive material, it exceeded critical mass, and was so large that it spontaneously blew apart, in a gigantic explosion, sending matter, energy and light in all directions at virtually unimaginable speeds.  Every particle ejected was hurled outward and away from others, expanding the occupied regions of space.  Such an expansion of the known limits of mass and energy continues today, but at an ever-increasing rate of expansion, as it has for the approximately twelve billion years that have elapsed since the big bang.

"This is science, not science fiction or folklore, and virtually all scientists have accepted the validity of the Big Bang Theory, first espoused by Stephen Hawking.  Instruments such as the Hubble Telescope have allowed other scientists to determine the age of the universe at something around twelve billion years.  Even the Roman Catholic Church has reconciled the Big Bang Theory into its principles of faith.

"There are three possibilities as to the future of our expanding universe:

1.      It will forever continue to expand; or

2.      It will reach an outer limits position and then shrink, in the exact opposite fashion as its expansion, back into the singularity, the single particle, that existed just before the big bang; or

3.       It will develop as something other than the universe of the first two theories, such as an oscillating universe in size.

"Without going into various laws of physics, much less quantum thermodynamics, I would suggest that the second possibility, which has been called the big crunch theory, is the most likely.   It is a theory that is subject to proof, and experimentation to that end continues to this day.  We have adopted policies and initiated activities regardless of which outcome should obtain, but the best outcome is achievable if we experience the big crunch.

"If the big crunch comes, when will it take place?  Scientists are working on that.  If it takes place, it appears that the size of the universe's matter will be at its greatest in approximately 8-22 billion further years.  We don't have information more precise.  If it occurs, the big crunch event will occur in approximately 28 to 56 billion years.  It's a very long time, since our own sun will change so drastically that our own world will be uninhabitable in less than one billion years.

"It's only natural to ask, so I'll anticipate your questions and ask myself: 'What came before the big bang and what comes after the big crunch?'  The answer is what I alluded to when I talked of a resemblance to a pearl necklace.  Immediately after each big crunch, there is another big bang; and before each big bang there was another big crunch.  It's like the age-old question: Did the chicken or its egg come first?  There is no answer readily deducible.  We can think of a point of time and mass-energy, and then an explosion, and some time later a contraction.  Everything in the big bang explodes outward, creating a larger pearl, then back to just a point.  Over the course of eons, a set of matched pearls, each the same age and size, if we consider their maximum limits and further regard each bang-crunch cycle as a separate moment in time. And like my pearls, there is no beginning or end, just a set that looks the same, forward or backward.

"Of course, what happens in between the big bang and the big crunch isn't exactly the same every time and no one will ever see or be involved in more than one pearl.  Theories first propounded by Albert Einstein explain the relationship of mass and energy, of time and mass and the speed of light in such circumstances as the big bang, big crunch and in between.  Cosmologists like Richard Feynmann have theorized how the chaos in the beginning became the elements of the universe today in a process that has been given the name of quantum thermodynamics.  Hawking developed the concept of the black hole and the big bang and astronomers have confirmed they are facts and not just theory.  Likewise, astronomers and other scientists have confirmed Einstein's Theory of Relativity.

" Were it not for the work of Frank Tipler, all of this would be just so much theory and speculation, something of interest mostly to scientists.  He was the cosmologist who introduced the concepts of computer-created virtual reality and human interaction and intervention at the cosmic level.  You may be aware that computer games simulate many activities, like auto racing and exploring ancient civilizations.  In fact, computer graphic creations are often very lifelike in appearance and movement.  Theoretically, computerized images could be indistinguishable from the real thing, so much so that "we" human beings could only be computer-created virtual selves and be unable to distinguish ourselves, others and everything around us even as we all "lived" together inside a gigantic computer.  His mathematics show that computers are indeed capable of reproducing whole universes, complete with all mankind, so complete in every detail that such virtual reality couldn't be sensed as taking place or different in any way from the reality we sense we now experience.

"Such notions represent philosophy, science, mathematics and imagination working together at highly abstract creative levels, so don't be ashamed if all of this sounds impossible or even just sounds so strange that you can't dream of such things.  My late husband John was always dreaming and he taught me to forever seek to dream more complex and loftier dreams.  So I've had almost twenty years of study and dreaming and imagining and thinking about such fantastic concepts as these, ones that you may be inclined to call crazy.

"If we think of them at all, we expect time and space to go on forever and so we don't normally think of the shape of the universe's occupied space, like these theories develop.  We think of our senses as denoting reality, even if our senses sometimes fool us, as when a magician makes a rabbit disappear and reemerge from a top hat.

"I know I've probably startled you, perhaps frightened you, as I discuss such strange and apparently improbable matters.  You would naturally believe that these are things that can't and don't affect you and I understand completely.  However, I shall end my speech tonight with perhaps the most surprising statement: These ideas quite likely involve the most fundamental and important matters in our lives.

"Thank you.  May your Gods go with you, bless you and give you strength and peace."

The cameraman was also an astrophysicist, and he just nodded his head, but the TV, Internet and radio audience was dazed.  Starting the next day, newspapers, magazines and all the other media were buzzing with explanations and theories.  It was a cram course in the science of the creation of the universe, the one called cosmology, and now the general population and not just a few academicians were learning it.

We've got the time, so we'd better review some previous events.  Don't worry if they don't seem related.  They'll all connect in due course, to themselves, that speech and the ones to follow.  But first, I'd better explain myself, and I guess I should start when my life took its fateful turn in direction, with the story of Oscareyo.