Cosmologist Lawrence Krauss says that science shows us that “we are more insignificant than we ever could have imagined,” and that “the future [of the universe] is miserable.” So why isn’t he bothered by this? He explains in this two-minute video.
Krauss admits that “the picture science presents to us is in some sense uncomfortable.” But rather than find it depressing, “It should embolden you… We provide our own meaning… We are endowed with a consciousness that can ask questions about the beginning of the universe and learn about the universe on its largest scales and experience everything it means to be human: music, art, literature, and science.”
Krauss is the author of A Universe from Nothing, a book about current scientific thinking regarding the beginning of the universe (a book which, fortunately for us non-physicists, is written for a lay audience). I plan to blog about it at some point.
In the meantime I just want to link to this little video, though I recognize how inadequate it might to seem to anyone who hasn’t spent a little time digging into what we might call the “disturbing” sciences–by which I mean aspects of cosmology, astronomy, geology, evolutionary biology, etc.–the parts of science that show the human race to be small, accidental, and insignificant (on a universal scale anyway; certainly we’re significant to each other). Depressing stuff, you might think.
But the more I read about science, the more I keep running across a peculiar phenomenon. You’d think that the people who know the most about this stuff would be the most disturbed by it, a gloomy lot dragging themselves into the lab only to find even more evidence that knocks mankind further off its pre-scientific pedestal.
But that isn’t the case at all.
Instead, these scientists are excited about what they find, even giddy at times, simply because it’s fun to learn about the world, and what they’re learning is so interesting and complex and mind-blowingly beautiful. And so they get excited about it, and some of them write popular books and make videos to share their enthusiasm.
And then they bump up against people who don’t find these things exciting and cool, but instead find them threatening and evil. So these scientists make videos like the one above, get into debates, and are often branded as “angry” and compared to religious fundamentalists.
All of which must seem pretty puzzling to a scientist who’s used to being around other scientists who have gotten past the idea that certain kinds of knowledge are threatening to the human psyche, and who are simply enjoying the pleasure of expanding our little bubble of knowledge deeper into the vast sea of our ignorance.