Sun 19 Mar 2006 3:23 PM
I found this image on Harvard's Web site. The project it is part of involves a concept known as gravitational lenses. Understanding the effects of gravity on light is essential for accurate calculations in deep space astronomy.
As the program's site explains, this image contains two renderings of the same subject–one inside the other. The image is built on a computer, simulating the changes that the gravity of something like a black hole would effect.
What interests me in this kind of picture is the forced reinterpretation of what we are viewing. The image is difficult to process in many ways. The probable reason is that our everyday lives do not involve cosmic events on the order of a black hole. If Harvard can be believed, (and the jury's still out) if we managed to be alive in the presence of a black hole our
lives would be incredibly confusing.
Eating would be terrifying, as a simple meal could quickly resemble light-speed travel. Your baked potato would be the center of a force that was shifting your surroundings in such a way as to disrupt your ideas about matter.
Stepping off of a typical city bus would land you on a church steeple, but if you rubbed your eyes you would be standing next to a bench plastered with urine-soaked newspapers and could probably navigate to a phone booth or bar.
Dancing would almost certainly land you in jail, and if your boss heard about it you'd get fired.
We call the glass in our doors' peepholes a “fisheye” lens, but our humaneye lenses are generally taken for granted. However, we do give the eyes a special place in our physiology, alongside the heart and the ass in terms of recurrence within collocations.
While some people rely heavily on their asses to accomplish many things, perhaps a greater number trust their own perception to see them through difficult situations. Our own experience is our most valuable guide, but it is becoming more apparent that we're only getting half the story even from ourselves.
I say the time is right for an eyeball that works as hard as I do. In a world where I may well after all be going the speed of light because there's nothing not moving for me to measure against, I'd like to believe that at least my own personal visual perception isn't hung up on something like gravity.
It makes perfect sense that it is, but
it kind of takes the spring out of my step.
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