Next step in the evolution of how I view the world

December 3, 2006

A friend of mine mentioned something the other day that has resonated with me quite a bit. I don't remember who he was talking about -- a person in the military I think -- but he mentioned that this person went through interesting lengths to remind himself each day that we see the world through a narrow lens.

You see, we're human beings, gravitationally tied to the Earth, typically five to six feet tall, with two eyes about two inches apart that let us see certain frequencies of light; with ears on the sides of our head that let us hear certain frequencies of sound. But there are also light and sound frequencies we can't perceive without mechanical assistance, things like radio and television waves that exist all around us that we can't physically perceive.

Our hands are also a certain size, so we're comfortable handling things in this size range (like baseballs, tennis balls, pencils, and pens), but we're less comfortable with things like atoms and molecules that are microscopically small, and things like solar systems and the universe itself, that are tremendously large.

When I was young I believed the universe was infinite in size, so I used to do this exercise while laying in bed at night, forcing my mind to think of the edge of the universe, and then ask "Okay, what's after that?" So then I would force myself to look out from that point, and go out a little further, and then ask the same question. Do that repeatedly for a little while, and pretty soon your brain wants to reboot itself, pretty much begging you to stop the exercise.

So, what's the point of all this?

For me it's another way to expand my mind, my awareness. But it's also my belief that this is where some of the most important inventions of the future will happen, new inventions where we use things that are very small or very large for the benefit of mankind. For me I'm personally interested in space travel, more specifically the means of propulsion that are needed to make space travel a reality.

My degree is in engineering, and during those younger days I used to imagine working on forms of propulsion that would make deep space travel a reality. I got side-tracked a little in working on certain other government projects, and a few other things along the way. But now, as I have more time to think about these things again, I find that level of interest is still in there somewhere.

So, as I think about these things, I have to think beyond our physical limits of perception. There are times I catch myself and go "Oh, that's a human limitation you're thinking of there, it doesn't have to be that way." I think this is a good thing, maybe the next step in my own way of thinking.

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