Monday, December 24, 2012

Thoughts on general relativity and Christmas

This could easily be the title of a term paper but for the fortunate fact that I'm 20+ years removed from institutions of higher learning.  That's a gift in itself.

Last month I read Walter Isaacson's biography of Albert Einstein, an engaging if not excruciatingly detailed account of the physicist's life and work.  Einstein was not overly religious but on several occasions was asked if he believed in God.  His response never varied, explaining that there was far too much order in the design of the universe for it to be accidental.

Having never won a Nobel prize, my thoughts carry somewhat less authority, but on occasions such as the Eve of Christmas I make it a point to stop, look, and think about our existence.  Those of us who spend time in the natural world are either the smart ones or the fortunate ones or both, and because of this are witness to the beauty and wonder of things that even Einstein might struggle to quantify. Feathers, fields, fins or fur, they all hold the power to make us stop and stare and feel good inside.

If life evolved strictly on a functional basis most of nature would look like college engineering projects. Whoever or whatever created the life on this planet didn't stop when the practical issues were resolved. Camouflage needn't be stunning, after all.  Or maybe the miracle is simply that we were created with the ability to see the beauty in all of these things.

If you start feeling that twinge of envy tomorrow morning when your little brother ends up with two more presents than you, step outside and look around.  It's a gift too big to wrap and that's a good thing, because no one could afford it anyway.  And it's yours.

Merry Christmas-

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