The Real Meaning of E=MC2 is Oneness, Relativity, Connection, and Hope
That Energy can be equal to mass, times the speed of light, squared, is an amazing leap of science. Einstein, even by 1905, showed clear signs of genius. He is now a cultural Icon. This is also demonstrated by Time Magazine’s honoring Einstein with the distinction of (Hu) Man of the Year(s) -specifically one hundred years. He was named Man of the 20th century. Many argue he could easily be designated man of the millennium, easily beating out Newton by several thousand votes. Of course without Newton’s work, Einstein would be completely unknown. There is a continuum of genius, just as there is a continuum of energy, time, light, and biology. All are one.
Energy and mass trade places all the time, as when the burning sun converts hydrogen into helium. Also bits of energy, and transformed mass, are created when you convert food into burned calories. Think of that when you next devour a candy bar: you are not a guilty glutton, but a living experiment. But what does this historic equation mean to humanity, outside the confines of the realm of the super gifted, super nerds, who bandy about the equation as part of their 9-5 routine of scribbled boards? This is not to disparage those nerds. They are busy making history while most of the world is off squabbling over political power, resources, dancing stars, and the debate of werewolves versus vampires.
Energy is electromagnetic radiation moving at the speed of light. Light is determined to be made up of both particles and waves. Mass can therefore be converted into energy and vice versa. Poof, there is creation. Creation of us and creation of a lot of mysteries as well, suddenly came to be. The scientists are left to debate the creation. For the purposes of this article we, we will debate the mysteries.
Einstein was passionate about mystery. He said that the mysterious is the source of all true art and all science. What did he mean by that? He meant that humanity has become aware of itself, and is at the shore of what Newton called an “…ocean of truth which lies undiscovered…” Both Newton and Einstein knew that we are as tiny children on the shore of a great and mysterious cosmos. We can and do learn by examining a shell, or contemplating a wave, but there will always be much more unknown to us. In his later years Einstein would still be seeking for the Grand Unified Theory that tied up relativity, mass, and energy into one very sparkling bow. Could our biological consciousness be a missing puzzle piece?
The Atomic bomb was one thing revealing nature’s mysteries got us, which disconcerted Einstein. He had after all escaped Nazi Germany. Could a species responsible for the holocaust be trusted with such awesome power? That is still being questioned in the most recent debate about overpopulation, climate change, and our “reasoning” way of finding wars acceptable. But ultimately unveiling truth was the ONLY path for Einstein; it is the only path for Science. We’ll just have to wait and see if we survive our technological adolescence and invent peace. Or maybe we should stand up and do something, but then, that’s another article.
Einstein realized that when we encompass all of creation into the circle of what matters, we find our place as appreciative of Nature and her bounty both in Natural law and concepts, and the “matter” of creation. We are destined to become the most defiant protectors of biodiversity, food, water, soil, forests, and other beings, or we may perish.
We need to look into nature’s laws to learn, even to learn about ourselves. We can trace our origins, now, to the atoms blasted into being which, much later became aware. Because Einstein was a humble man, he realized celebrity is meaningless. He knew that who we are is not related to being the “pinnacle of creation,” but that we are a small species capable of both thought and thoughtlessness. Our origins, our mass being atoms, is one basis for our one-ness with the cosmos. Our consciousness, mass become energy and thought, is another.
What about relativity? Relativity tells us in the case of the speed of light, 186, 282 miles per second, that there is no absolute station, or place, where observance is not affected by motion. Or, simply, there are no absolutes; it’s all relative.
What you experience in time and space depends upon your relative location. What you experience on a trip at the speed of light will differ significantly from those left at home who experience they are aging, while you are off flitting about staying young. This has given us a wealth of possibilities for the geeks to explore, but also lots of time travel stories that ultimately enabled some people to become governators. And that makes policy and outcomes relative and relevant, especially to Californians.
So, if I’m in a speed of light spaceship reading some Dick, eating some nachos, and dictating a letter to the old folks back home; (who used to be my kids) what does this relativity have to do with anything else? It has to do with everything else. The ramifications of your book, your chips, and your letter, could fill thousands of pages of dissertations. Because of our shared origins, how we experience anything in time and space has to do with relativity. This leads us directly to our connections.
Biology and biological diversity supports this relativity in the unveiling of the truth that we are evolved animals, related to all other animals. This should humble us a bit before our cheeseburgers. It is coming to light more every day that our survival as a species is dependent upon realizing our inter-dependence on all living things.
What about Ebola and E-Coli? Should we respect those living things? The short answer is yes. Although you may be no happier to know it than your cheeseburger would be to know its ultimate destiny, realizing we are all related is important. Without disease the cosmos, the order, could not balance out over- infestations.
Einstein also famously said “Gravity cannot be held responsible for people falling in love.” Even that is in question now; as biology is uncovering that the laws of attraction affect electrochemical signals in the brain. That is, between two bodies whether they be enormous galaxies, or hormonal hotties, laws of attraction- gravity -we could call it, may very well be partly responsible for people falling in love.
The emerging field of Ecopsychology postulates that we are bound by natural laws and Evolutionary Biology, more so than by a bunch of cigar chomping suppressed memories, or the behaviors of confined pigeons in boxes. Ecopsychology flawlessly blends our mass, time, and space to that of not just living Earth, but to the greater cosmos as well. Even in spirituality, the revolutionary (3,000 year young) philosophy gaining ground is that there is a Oneness of consciousness and you are in it. It is often referred to as Light. Could our emerging consciousness be the speed of human light?
Electromagnetic radiation, which we call light, or an electromagnetic wave, travels at the speed of light. The speed of thought has been proposed to move at similar speeds. The exacting nature of Science requires that we test all hypotheses, and there is still quite a lot of testing to be done. Yet, many think our relationship, our relativity, is clearly connected to the universe which gave us consciousness.
If Science can be appreciated as the unveiling of truth, there is great hope in proving our connectedness to the cosmos. We are united as life forms, small, but significant in our growing awareness. Dr. Carl Sagan said, “We are star stuff and our destiny lies in our origins.” He was speaking of our atomic birth and our return to the stars with the itty bitty “small steps” our unusual and quite young, primate species continues to make. Solar energy has already helped in creating us, but more recently we have harnessed that light to fly a plane. This offers hope, that in our belonging we can see our value. Our collective psychological health is boosted when we protect our planet and prove our smarts.
Hope for the world is deeply dependent upon our ability to use science and technology with great care and a non arrogant approach. We are learning every day that manufacture and energy demand by their limitations that we utilize them with not just economy and non polluting methods, but with humility, appreciation, and determination to revealing the truth. Denying evolution or climate change does nothing to help us realize the potential hazards of our impact on the living biosphere and ourselves.
Debates can and will rage on, but the truth is always ultimately revealed, and it is our privilege and responsibility to listen to the truth that Natural law lies down. We may never achieve faster that light travel, but we may exceed and transcend the limitations on our present speed of thought. We of earth are not just stupid, stupid, stupid! We can rise above denial by knowing our selves, and we can affect our belonging, our planet, and our collective well being in astonishing and wonderful ways. Knowing that E=MC2 becomes a truth that connects and inspires us all.