About a week ago, astrophysicists got the thrill of a lifetime (or the past 130 million years, depending on your spacetime viewpoint), when they captured the collision of two neutron stars, called a kilonova (yep, that’s bigger than a supernova!). Check out the cool video animation of the event over at NASA, here. The energy and fusion of chemical elements in the blast of material during this event is mind-boggling in itself. For example, if the Earth were close enough and in direct line of the gamma ray burst from this thing, the whole planet would be toast.
And if you want to create your own heavy elements like gold, this is the way the universe does it. It takes this much mass (neutron stars are super dense) and energy to create our most valuable metals. I keep wondering if humans are obsessed with precious metals like gold, silver, and platinum because they can feel the residual power that created them.
The coolest synchronicity of this event is that the scientists who succeeded in finding gravity waves for the first time in 2015 just received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2017 for their work. Must have been awesome to see such a definitive proof of gravity waves (first theorized by Albert Einstein) this year as well.
I love these discoveries because they continue to validate my intuitions about how the universe works. I am not a physicist, so I have to trust the math of the specialists in this area, but the English explanations sync right in with how I envision the play of matter and energy in the fabric of spacetime (think of the universe as an undulating membrane).
I know that some of my intuitions are not provable yet by science, but as a long-time science fiction fan, I wait patiently for the validations that I’m sure will be found eventually. In the meantime, I refrain from making independent claims about universal phenomena without that scientific validation. To me it’s OK for us to have both science and the philosophy of science, but it’s important to keep the two separate.
And to be patient; it’s taken more than a century so far to find experimental validation of many of the elements of Einstein’s theories. We could also yet prove him wrong on some cosmological points. We shall see. That’s what I like about the future; we shall see.