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Reflections on the Hubble Deep Field image

“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”

– Albert Einstein.

Turns out Einstein was better at Physics than jokes.

“In awe I watched the waxing moon ride across the zenith of the heavens like an ambered chariot towards the ebon void of infinite space wherein the tethered belts of Jupiter and Mars hang forever festooned in their orbital majesty. And as I looked at all this I thought… I really must repair the roof on this toilet.”

– Les Dawson.

That’s more like it.

Sit down and prepare to be terrified. The following picture is of a region of the sky smaller than this full stop.


Figure 1. The Hubble Deep Field. It is unclear whether the correct response to this is laughter, screaming, or suicide. Bear in mind that each little spiral is a whole galaxy. Bear in mind that if the universe is infinite then the whole observable universe is itself a negligible part of the whole universe. I often have a bear in mind (Yogi, if you must know).

I advise printing this out and looking at it whenever your life blows.

I was sittin’ on the bog in an Odeon on an industrial estate the other day (Prometheus 3D (washout)) and the picture above slipped out of my pocket on to the floor. I looked at it and then caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and had an epiphany.

Here endith the front matter and any pretence of humour.

This blog post makes the following assumptions:

  1. The universe is infinite.
  2. Materialism is true.

I aim to show that if these two assumptions are sound then we are immortal. Furthermore, if they are true then Hell exists, and your actions have no consequences.

1 You are the motion of material. I call this your Shape.

2 Your shape depends on its environment but part of your shape is unchanged by this process. I call this unchanging part your Essence.

3 Your Essence is composed of a finite number of objects which can have a finite number of arrangements.

3.1 In an infinite set of randomly arranged finite forms there will be an infinite number of each type of arrangement if and only if the total possible number of objects is finite.

3.2 You and your Essence are composed of a finite number of objects.

3.3 In an infinite set of arrangements of the objects that are contained in your Shape there will be an infinite number of realisations of your Shape and your Essence.

4 If you want to believe the truth then you must base all personal decisions on the assumption that there are an infinite number of your Essences making all possible decisions in an infinite number of both identical (your Shape) and different (your Essence) environments.

5 All your choices have an infinitesimal impact on the universe since they are repeated and contradicted an infinite number of times by an infinite number of yous (your Shape).

6 For as long as you are possible you are. You are immortal and will always exist if and only if the universe exists.

 * * * * * * * * *

Every major scientific discovery (starting with realising we have a bum-hole around 1 million years ago) has essentially told us ‘you are less significant and unique than you thought you were’.  Currently, we base our significance on believing we are the only life. Come off it. No serious person does not believe in aliens. The next realisation will be we are not alone. Then we will realise that we are not the only version of us in the universe.

  • There is infinite suffering.
  • Hell exists.

And then I realised it wasn’t an epiphany… it was diarrhoea.

Best regards,

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A Portrait of a Provincial Nobody

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