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Recognize The Power of Humility

We Know Nearly Nothing

Even the com­po­si­tion of every­thing around us remains most­ly a mys­tery. The uni­verse is com­prised of 5% observ­able ener­gy + mat­ter and 95% unknown dark ener­gy + mat­ter.

NASA explains that 95% of what’s in the uni­verse is unknown.16 This whop­ping per­cent­age is the sum of two-thirds dark ener­gy and one-third dark mat­ter.

Sketch­notes of talk by Dr. S. James Gates

No human knows where dark ener­gy comes from, or what it is exact­ly, yet sci­en­tists rec­og­nize that this ener­gy is respon­si­ble for the uni­verse expand­ing. Dark mat­ter is cur­rent­ly unex­plain­able. What sci­en­tists have observed, how­ev­er, is the grav­i­ty of dark mat­ter. What­ev­er this strange stuff is, the effect of its grav­i­ty is seen by how it pulls on light mat­ter like stars and galax­ies. The only rea­son we know dark mat­ter exists is because stars and galax­ies move in rela­tion to this grav­i­ta­tion­al influ­ence. Yet, dark mat­ter is dif­fer­ent than a black hole. In fact, it defies any descrip­tion beyond being dark. No one has come up with a clear­er under­stand­ing of the phe­nom­e­non and so we’ll have to set­tle for being a bit clue­less as to dark matter’s exact prop­er­ties for the time being.

This state of puz­zle­ment is com­plete­ly okay because chang­ing degrees of knowl­edge about our sur­round­ings is a qual­i­ty that is nat­u­ral­ly baked into our sci­en­tif­ic prin­ci­ples. Fun­da­men­tal to all sci­en­tif­ic the­o­ries is the knowl­edge that some­day they will be sup­plant­ed. Cur­rent the­o­ries allow us to make rea­son­ably accu­rate claims about the world and the future, but there is always room for greater under­stand­ing. The sci­en­tif­ic method has grant­ed us a peek into the true nature of real­i­ty. There are incal­cu­la­ble mys­ter­ies to uncov­er. Per­haps some mys­ter­ies are con­cep­tu­al­ly impos­si­ble for humans to ever tru­ly under­stand. Yet, this lim­i­ta­tion is no rea­son

Astro­nom­i­cal chart by Galileo Galilei

to be dis­heart­ened. There’s a great deal of val­ue in the aware­ness of one’s own igno­rance.

“Utopic Space”, Paul Lafol­ley, 1992

Pla­to recount­ed his teacher Socrates say­ing, “I nei­ther know nor think that I know.” In our mod­ern era, this state­ment has been adapt­ed to, “I know that I know noth­ing.” In the inter­est of humil­i­ty, we are well served to remem­ber how lit­tle is still known about areas of research like Earth­’s oceans, human brains, and the nature of mat­ter itself. It’s no won­der that we still have much to learn about the com­plex­i­ties and impli­ca­tions of con­scious­ness. To become aware of our own lim­i­ta­tions and igno­rance is to pause before the beau­ti­ful­ly com­plex com­po­si­tion of life and to mar­vel at incom­pre­hen­si­ble won­ders.

“Neb­u­la”, NASA, 2015
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