The absolute frame – an anecdote

I remember the first time that I noticed the moon. It must have been a full moon during the summer, when it appears as a giant orb close to the earth. I was shocked because I thought it was a hole in the sky. How could there be hole in the sky? Later it occurred to me that there must be a hole in the sky. How else would all the spaceships get into outer-space? In the early days of space travel, rockets would just poke a hole in the sky, creating stars, on their way out. But the multitude of stars appearing across the night sky became cause for concern. What would become of the sky? We can’t leave ourselves completely exposed to space! A decision was made to construct a pivotal hole, a portal, which all kinds of spaceships could fit through. The sky could be rolled around to accommodate scheduled launches all over the world. I imagined that one day I could work as an air traffic controller for the moon portal. Stationed in some high-tech, steel tower control room, the jumbo screens flickering with an array of data that looked like a bunch of shooting stars (miniscule tears in the sky), I would have the entire sky and the corresponding operations related to it at my fingertips. The job would entail managing a sophisticated network of multi-lingual communications, while keeping one eye always on the moon, always ready to handle any unanticipated snafus resulting from the complexity of setting this lunar apparatus into motion.

Once the moon was made, the average observer had a looking-glass from which to further contemplate the nature and properties of space: a vast whiteness with a smoggy residue. I thought it was funny how the space that I had imagined differed from what could be observed through the moon. I had envisioned space with a predominately black backdrop. This was the way celestial bodies in picture books were depicted. Perhaps this was to better illustrate their forms. Space, as could be verified by a quick glance through the moon portal, is certainly white. It had been nicknamed the Milky Way, after all.

I also remember learning, in the first grade, that the earth spins. That we have the ability to move the sky goes without saying, but for the earth to spin on its own…that’s preposterous! I didn’t believe it. If the earth spins, why have I never noticed it? Why am I not dizzy? Still, I decided to give my teacher the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps one had to be completely immobile for an extended period to notice the movements of the earth. I tiptoed out onto the playground one day during recess. Positioning myself in a spot far away from all the other kids so as not to be distracted, I lowered my heals firmly to the ground and held my breath. The sky, though dotted with clouds, was not passing me by; I was not thrown off balance; the earth, by all indications, was not moving, not even a little. I decided to continue my investigation into the matter with one final experiment: one Saturday, I would sit, very, very quietly, with the utmost stillness in front of the building where I lived. If, by the end of the day, the building ended up in front me, then I would acquiesce that the earth did indeed spin and would direct my investigative activities towards determining the source of this inexplicable phenomenon. I abandoned my experiment after about an hour, not being able to sit still for as long as was required. No conclusive results could be obtained, but my instinctive sense that the earth did not spin threw the odds in my favor.

It’s obvious now that there was a crucial piece of data missing. In explaining that the earth spins, my first grade teacher neglected to mention that it spins around an axis through the north and south poles. Common sense will lead one to deduce that if the earth spins, it must spin around something. Without complete information, it’s only natural for a first-grader to infer that she is the axis around which the earth spins.

I consider my efforts described above to be in keeping with the strictest principles and practices of the scientific method. I based my assumptions on all of the information that was available to me at the time. I tested the hypotheses to the best of my ability, and I separated useful information from that which was seemingly useless. I discarded, for example, evidence that the earth does move by quaking, as was demonstrated by the rolling undulations experienced during story hour in the first grade classroom. I attributed this as a local occurrence, not having anything to do with the machinations of the earth as a whole. There was, in addition, something called an eclipse. As it was explained, an eclipse happens when the moon is placed in front of the sun and obscures the light from the sun, casting a shadow over a particular point on earth…or something like that. I deemed it impossible for the moon, as a portal, to be able to obscure any kind of light shining through outer space, and so attributed the eclipse to some kind of magic trick devised by scientists for their amusement. In short, I believe my methods and conclusions to have been logical.

Clearly such insular and closed paths as those paved by logic cannot possibly lead to something as elusive as the truth. Revelation! Inspiration! These are the paths that unfold into the unknown, and more likely, towards something better resembling the truth. If there is any such thing at all, the truth is likely to be apprehended through a kind of disturbance, an epiphany, which propels one further into unknown territory. While it has now been proven to my satisfaction that the moon is not a hole in the sky, and that the earth does, in fact, spin, there is no evidence to suggest that the currently held conjectures are any more permanent or accurate. And so, onward I go, in the only way I know how, shaping the universe in the form of my imagination.


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