Permanence?

For months now I’ve been slowly reading the pieces in a book titled Forces of Change, published in 2000 by the National Geographic Society/Smithsonian Institute. It’s a book of essays on the natural world and our understanding of it. The essay I enjoyed most is “The Pleasures of Change” by Dorion Sagan and Eric D. Schneider; here is the intro paragraph:

The strange fact that the human mind is able to imagine eternity and its perpetual fascination with numbers, geometric shapes, and other changeless forms have had a dramatic impact on our perception of reality. For the last few centuries the timeless has been epitomized by the mathematical equations of the physicist, who has tried, ever since Newton, to discover eternal laws behind our changing natural world. It is curious that we should be so obsessed with the eternal when we live in a world of incessant change, where perhaps the most truly incorruptible, eternal, and changeless thing is our ability to even imagine such permanence!

The authors go on to discuss the way life is able to take advantage of energy gradients to keep on growing… outcome unknown. As they put it, “we do not know what happens when life originates in a universe.”

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