News and Tribune


March 25, 2013

CUMMINS: The search for what matters

Although you’re made from matter, you may feel you don’t matter. Before social networking, you probably felt insignificant, alone and isolated. Now that you can reach out through cyberspace to the world’s population, it should give you a sense of integration and partial completeness. Man is a social animal and thanks to technology, he can now spread his face and feelings all over creation.  

  Physicists study matter, and you should be pleased they’ve recently found a Higgs boson. An early man named Wagon hypothesized the wheel, but it took eons for man to roll one. Dr. Higgs was an ordinary physicist, who hypothesized that bosons exist. A boson is a particle with zero spin. They’re much different from the particle makeup of many people I know, who spin in oblong circles as they seek information while at the same time sending instant messages keeping friends abreast of the instant latest.   

Now that we know bosons exist, we can proceed from there, and perhaps discover what really matters to us. The Higgs boson is known as the God particle — the key to understanding all matter. As we network ferociously with other people, are we forgetting to network with a higher power? Particles are important to us, because we make plastics, smartphones and other stuff from them. Once we understand why man does this, then we can pursue how to dispose of the junk in our garages, basements, attics, closets and brains. 

The hypothesis that “stuff-will-buildup” also applies to digital data accumulated in your hard drive. Bytes are important to us, and now we can store them in “iclouds” drifting in cyberspace. In the late 1980s, we could store 450 gigabytes. Now we’re storing petabytes (one followed by 17 zeros), which currently is more bytes than we can possibly chew. It seems we’re relying too much on two simple digits, zero and one. Thank God for the numerical “one.” What if He’d left us at zero and almost did, but He created everything we needed. You know how man is, though, it wasn’t good enough for him. 

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