The Physician and the Universe: A Broader Perspective

December 19, 2013

We spend our lives within our own worlds - Obamacare, patient issues, practice issues - rarely looking outside where perspective lives.

Wisdom is hard earned. Its secret is perspective.

"I view life as a mountain. The climb to the top is exhilarating, the view from the top is magnificent, the fall to the bottom, terrifying, but, without having experienced all three, one cannot have perspective.” Unknown.

Where does one find perspective? In our accomplishments? In our failures? In reflection?

All look inward for inspiration. Having been raised around science and engineering in the space program, I learned to look up.

More to the point, up, into the infinity of time and space, and to the great minds that work to unravel its secrets.

I am not smart enough to understand the mathematics, which is the language of physics, and just barely am I able to grasp the conclusions that they bring. This one, however, tucked away in the online version of the journal "Nature," reveals something happening in the worlds of quantum physics, astrophysics, and mathematics that is tantalizingly close to an unassailable proof unifying Einstein’s theory of relativity with quantum physics (they have been at odds for decades).

The implications are profound - a Rosetta Stone to the secrets of the universe that could lead to wonders we can barely imagine. It also makes our universe, the large one to infinity and beyond, best described as a hologram, not an illusion: the combination of many layers that we perceive in three dimensions. In this case, nine plus time.

The proof involves not just the four dimensions that we know, length, width, depth and time, but adds five more, all resting on one-dimensional "strings.”

The science and mathematics are less important than the consequences of such a discovery.

Everything around us is our perception of reality. While we cannot see the many layers of our universe, we can see the three dimensions that make up our reality.

The others are where the secrets lie. And, that is a humbling, and exciting, future.

If the proofs are accepted, and the first third-party reconstructions do confirm them as correct, aligning the physics of the subatomic with the physics of the physical world has ramifications far beyond the scientific to describe the intricate grandeur that we rarely pause to reflect upon.

This is the time of year that many of us celebrate one of the foundations of our faith. We may be small, tucked in the corner of a galaxy in the corner of a universe, seemingly alone, but likely only by virtue of vast distances, and that makes us rare, and precious. Appreciating how special we are in a universe alive with miracles provides a perspective that is there for all of us to see and, whatever our beliefs as to how we came to be, the view is truly magnificent and worthy of our attention and quest for understanding.

As healers and protectors of life, the calling and ideals that drew us to this profession remain, and are revealed with perspective. We preserve miracles, and sometimes enable them.

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