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Are We a Universe, or a Speck? – the Macrocosm Inside

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When I was 7, my teacher Mrs Cole explained the concept of atoms to me. Sometime that week, mulling it over as I was falling asleep, I fell into a dozey state where I had this vision roll out in my mind’s eye.

I am floating in space, looking at a galaxy swirling through the void. I can see that it is made of stars and planets.1 I realize that most of those planets are teeming with life, and all those people seem so small from this perspective, but I know they loom large in their own lives, just like I do in mine.  What must be large worlds to them are not even spots I can see from here. But if I could zoom in, like with my microscope,2 I could see it all.

Then my camera-eye-view starts to pull back. The galaxy gets smaller. Other galaxies come into view. Then more, and more. I realize I’m in a stream of swirling globs of stars, the galaxies looking more and more like specks. It’s like they floating around, in motion, all  flowing somewhere. Then I realize they ARE flowing somewhere. They are cells, and I am looking at a vacuous bloodstream, as it were, in some giant body.

I came completely awake then, kind of amazed at what I’d just experienced. Without articulating the thought, that vision gave me to understand there is a macrocosm in the microcosm, and likewise the reverse.3  Not the usual fare of childish insights, I know. I realized that at the time, just as I realized I’d grasped something unusual that would alter my perspective on things just a little. (Or maybe more than a little…)

So. This brings me to this FANTABULOUS set of photos.  One is a network of neurons from a mouse brain.  The other is an image from a computer simulation by astrophysicists of how the universe evolved.

I can’t really see much difference – but then, according to my 7-year-old self, there isn’t any. That the universe looks like a neural network makes perfect sense to me. And that a neural network looks like the universe – ditto.

I don’t know about you, but I think that’s just way cool.

1.  You are shocked, I’m sure, to learn that I was a geek from early on. I was already mistress of my own telescope, since my birthday a few months before the conversation with Mrs Cole.  The scope was a present from my brother Don, who promptly set it up in the driveway at night and showed me how to see the moon in it. :)  He always gave me presents that stretched my brain. And taught me chess when I was small, too.

2, The microscope came the year before the telescope. I spent hours looking at the cooties in dirty water with horrified fascination.  Yech.  I was much happier with the chemistry set that came when I was 8.

3. It also caused me to question what we perceive as reality, as did another vision around that same age frame. But that is a discussion for later.


Originally posted 2009-03-22 04:50:58.

Reader Feedback

6 Responses to “Are We a Universe, or a Speck? – the Macrocosm Inside”

  • Brynne Annae says:

    Kind of reminds me of “A Wind in the Door”…the book by Madeleine L’Engle. It was never my favorite in the Kairos series, but I seem to remember discussions of macrocosm versus microcosm. I don’t know…I was about nine the last time I read it. :)

  • Teramis says:

    Oh, that’s an interesting association. I read the L’Engle books ages and ages ago and have long since forgotten any of the details. I should re-read that particular title.
    I’m also kind of curious what my take on it will be in this my adult self, as opposed to whatever I got from it when I was a kid. Hm.

  • Mark says:

    Very Nice. Acually, I have a paper on this subject that im proposing before a neuroscientist. The claim that the universe looks like a neural network is very valid. However , what i wont tell you is how it connects us to the universe.
    heres a jewel. stars are very important. With out your eyes, no star would be seen in your mind.

    neral network, in and out.

  • Mark says:

    macro, and micro. The inside, is just as big as the out side.

  • Teramis says:

    Good luck with your paper. This is an interesting field.
    As to how neural networks connect us to the universe, that is a whole ‘nother conversation, for sure. Personally, I also have a metaphysical take on all this, but maybe that’s a subject better saved for a future post.

  • Paul says:

    See please this web page. Is a study about microcosm and macrocosm.


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Author Deborah Teramis Christian

Teramis wrote her first book at age 9, but like all good literary lizards has taken her time charging upon the market. Finally in a situation where she can write full time, she is becoming the Dragon, Unleashed, or a close facsimile thereof. Roar, said the saur.

Teramis On the Web

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This military science fiction anthology contains "Live Fire," Christian's Tiptree Award-nominated short story set in the Sa'adani Empire, the setting of her science fiction novels. Now available at Amazon in print and Kindle editions.