Genesis: Cosmological Echos

Dark Energy continues to be one of the great scientific mysteries of our time.  

This poem seeks to place it centre-stage.  

It is followed by an annotated version for the scientific layman. 

Genesis:  Cosmological Echoes

 

There was a time when Time itself stood still

And Triune Space was formless, void and vast;

No matter stirred, there was no eye to see

Nor mind to comprehend the vacant past.

 

And yet within this carapace of calm,

In subjugation to the laws of chance

Dark Energy lurked stealthy in the shade,

Provoking random waves in ghostly dance.

 

As when Earth’s winds and ocean waves conspire

To focus energy in gathering storm,

In hurricane of chiral power immense,

Or maelstrom far exceeding any norm,

 

So these primordial space-time waves converged

With flux of energy t’ward caustic point,

 Focus of pressure infinite, intense,

Where graviton and photon were conjoint.

 

Such fusion of extremes could scarce endure:

Explosive stress induced chaotic schism,

Releasing pent-up energy as mass

In sonoluminescent cataclysm. 

 

There was a time when molecules converged

In replicative mode precursing Life, 

Genetic coding, helices that merged,

A spiral staircase to our world of strife.

 

Dark Energy still roams athwart the bound

Where lightning flits and quarks have ceased to churn,

That sphere in spectral darkness all begowned, 

That bourne from which no echo can return.

Here follows the annotated version

 

Genesis:  Cosmological Echoes

 

There was a time when Time itself stood still[1]

And Triune Space was formless, void and vast[2];

No matter stirred, there was no eye to see

Nor mind to comprehend the vacant past.

 

And yet within this carapace of calm,

In subjugation to the laws of chance[3]

Dark Energy lurked stealthy in the shade[4],

Provoking random waves[5] in ghostly dance.

 

As when Earth’s winds and ocean waves conspire

To focus energy in gathering storm,

In hurricane of chiral[6] power immense,

Or maelstrom far exceeding any norm,

 

So these primordial space-time waves converged

With flux of energy[7] t’ward caustic point[8],

 Focus of pressure infinite[9], intense,

Where graviton and photon were conjoint[10].

 

Such fusion of extremes could scarce endure:

Explosive stress[11] induced chaotic schism[12],

Releasing pent-up energy as mass[13]

In sonoluminescent cataclysm[14]

 

There was a time when molecules converged[15]

In replicative mode precursing Life[16],

Genetic coding, helices that merged,

A spiral staircase to our world of strife[17].

 

Dark Energy still roams athwart the bound[18]

Where lightning flits and quarks have ceased to churn[19],

That sphere in spectral darkness[20] all begowned, 

That bourne from which no echo can return[21].

Notes:

 

[1] There was a time when Time itself stood still: I conceive of a vacuum, devoid of matter, where measurement of time, and the distinguishing of one instant of time from another, is impossible; in this sense, Time stood still.  

 

[2] Triune Space was formless, void and vast:  Three-dimensional space, i.e. three dimensions in one space, thus three-in-one, or “triune”, echoing the Trinity of Christian theology; also Genesis 1.2  “And the Earth was without form and void …”.

 

[3] In subjugation to the laws of chance: conforming with Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, which asserts that there is an inescapable element of chance and uncertainty within the realm of quantum physics.

 

[4] Dark Energy lurked stealthy in the shade: Dark Energy (here deliberately capitalised) is a controversial concept of current cosmology needed to reconcile apparently conflicting astronomical observations. Belief in Dark Energy is to some extent an article of faith, as is belief in the God of traditional theology;  “lurked stealthy in the shade” may here provoke thoughts of Hades, the abode of the dead.

 

[5] Random waves:  a familiar and widely studied phenomenon in many branches of physics, geophysics and astrophysics. Here these might be thought to be associated with the spontaneous and transitory appearance of particle/anti-particle pairs in the vacuum, providing a random source of pulsed electromagnetic waves.  

 

[6] Chiral: non-mirror-symmetric.  The prototype of chirality is the right hand, whose mirror image is the left hand; so chirality is just a synonym of  ‘handedness’. The helical upward flow in a hurricane is chiral, helicity being the simplest physical manifestation of chirality.

 

[7] Flux of energy: waves generally transport energy; in particular, electromagnetic waves involve a flux of energy (known as the Poynting flux).

 

[8] Caustic point:  a distinguished point in a wave field where wave fronts intersect in singular manner; such a point may be seen, for example, in the reflection of sunlight on the surface of a cup of tea.

 

[9] Focus of pressure infinite:  I have in mind here the phenomenon of the ‘finite-time singularity’, wherein a quantity such as pressure (here electromagnetic) can in principle through nonlinear processes become infinite at a particular point within a finite time. Such ‘singularities’ are usually ‘resolved’ in some way just before the infinity occurs.  Here, I conceive of the incipient singularity as triggering the Big Bang.

 

[10] Where graviton and photon were conjoint:  Here, I imagine a state governed by a unified field theory incorporating both gravitation and quantum mechanics, the holy grail of current endeavour in theoretical physics. 

 

[11] Explosive stress:  the result of the huge build-up of pressure here envisaged.

 

[12] Chaotic schism:  the Big Bang, chaotic in the technical sense of breaking every symmetry and having long-term unpredictable consequences.

 

[13] Releasing pent-up energy as mass:  implying conversion of energy to mass through Einstein’s equation E = mc2.  

[14] Sonoluminescent cataclysm:  echoing Genesis 1.3  “God said: Let there be Light; and there was Light”.  Sonoluminescence:  a well-documented phenomenon whereby a flash of light can be emitted as a result of the huge pressure and temperature generated in a collapsing bubble. 

 

[15] There was a time when molecules converged:  signalling the birth of chemistry and potentially of biology. The repetition of  “There was a time” and of  “converged” is deliberate, seeking to place the emergence of Life in all its manifestations here, as in Genesis, on a par with the creation of the Universe.

 

[16] In replicative mode precursing Life: in a form that may spontaneously replicate itself. I use ‘precursing’ here in the sense of ‘anticipating’; but of course it has also a certain doom-laden resonance: Life is ‘cursed in advance’ through its inevitable coupling with Death.

  

[17] Helices that merged, a spiral staircase to our world of strife:  The double helix of Crick & Watson; the steps of a spiral staircase are here seen as the cross-ties of the double helix, together with their genome coding; I conceive of this staircase as leading through Darwinian evolution to homo sapiens and his associated “world of strife”. cf  Genesis 1.27:  “So God created man in his own image … male and female created He them”.

 

[18] Dark Energy still roams athwart the bound:  This bound is the spherical boundary determined by the distance that electromagnetic waves have propagated at the finite speed of light up to the present time since the Big Bang. Beyond this bound, we can have no knowledge, but it is not unreasonable to suppose that the assumed ‘initial condition’ wherein “Dark Energy lurked stealthy in the shade” should still persist in this inaccessible region.

 

[19] Where lightning flits and quarks have ceased to churn:  Lightning flits because this sphere is precisely the limit of light (and other electromagnetic radiation) emitted by the Big Bang.  Quarks, the most basic constituents of matter generated in the Big Bang, are likewise constrained to remain within this ever-expanding sphere.

 

[20] That sphere in spectral darkness all begowned:  “spectral” here recalls “ghostly”; but it has also scientific content in that it is indeed the sphere beyond which no component of the electromagnetic spectrum can penetrate.  “All begowned” is intended to bring to mind the black gowns of academia or of the priesthood; others may see this as purveying a mild personification of “Dark Energy”

 

[21] That bourne from which no echo can return:  “That bourne” here used in the sense of ‘that boundary’ which is receding from us at the speed of light, so that no signal that we send can reach it, and no echo can therefore return.  Of course the phrase borrows from Shakespeare’s “…death, the undiscover’d country from whose bourn no traveller returns” [Hamlet, III.i]:  Death, like Dark Energy, lurks in these shadows!