Maryanne Rose Papke
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Things from Momo's Head


Being alive is such an excellent thing. I'm very happy to be so. My only problem is that I will be here for such a short time. And I want to do EVERYTHING. There is so much to do and learn in this universe that I feel I could live forever and never get bored. And this, as discussed earlier, from someone who knows the implications of forever. Everything however, is a finite amount of things, so I may eventually run out. We might also assume that there is a finite amount of ways to do and look at and think about things. All of this, while working out to be an unfathomable amount of things to do, is still finite, and therefore nothing in the face of infinity. Though really, the second assumption is probably wrong. Even if it weren't though, I feel confident that we would reach the end of the universe well before I ran out of things to do. And what would happen then? It would depend I suppose, on how the universe ends, and where time goes. Will it go on forever, loop back around, end with the rest of the universe, or something else? In any case, I have too many things to do, and an absurdly short amount of time to do them in. How do I prioritize?

I had my big existential crisis when I was 14, a night right before going to bed, where I looked in the mirror and wondered who that was. Where I cried myself to sleep with the realizations that I was less than a speck in the face of the cosmos, and that nothing I ever did would have the slightest impact on the universe. I came to peace with these facts a few days later, accepting that yes, I was nothing, but you know what else? I was alive. I existed! So why wouldn't I take advantage of that? I would live my life! I would be happy! That is what matters.

So how do I prioritize what things I choose to do in my life? I do what makes me happy, and I don't worry too much about the things I won't have time for, because after all, it really won't matter if I don't get to them all. The universe won't care.


Infinity is a very interesting concept. Mathematically I like it quite a lot. I am really very bothered however, when it is applied to practical scenarios. For instance, I have heard actual physicists (*cough*Michio Kaku*cough*) describe black holes as places of infinite density. Which is nonsense. True, we do not understand the state of the incredibly densely packed matter, but to say that it is infinitely dense is completely ridiculous, and demonstrates a lack of understanding as to what infinite actually means. Better to leave it at that we don't know what really happens in a black hole. Not that I am trying to discourage speculation, but it should be reasonable. White holes and wormholes, by the way, not reasonable solutions in my opinion. They're all, oh, all this matter, where does it go? Through to another backwards universe? Does it create a mini big bang? Universes within universes? No! It doesn't go anywhere! We know it doesn't! Otherwise it wouldn't have the massive gravity that it does. I'm not really sold on the idea of wormholes even through regular space in our own universe. They're a whole thing because there are valid mathematical solutions in models of the universe which allow for wormholes, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they exist. We don't have any actual evidence for them, and I just think we shouldn't get too ahead of ourselves. The idea that space is full of wormholes makes people like Michio Kaku think they can legitimately speculate about universes inside black holes.

Oh, speaking of hypothetically condensing matter to within one Planck length, I am no longer befuddled by Zeno's dichotomy paradox. Eventually, as your movement continues to be halved, you will reach one Planck length. And anything smaller than one Planck length is no longer distinguishable as being separate points in space. So ta da! You have arrived at your destination. This is an awesome thing, and you can zoom in to see just how small a Planck length is.

One day I will draw a comic about subatomic particles.


I was watching the first episode of How the Universe Works, which dealt mostly with the Big Bang. While it was largely things I already knew, I find that hearing them talked about again can make me think about them in new ways. Pretty much the only thing I hadn't come across before was Planck time, which they didn't explain properly, and I had to look up afterwards. (It's the time it takes for a photon traveling at the speed of light to traverse one Planck length. There are 10^43 of them in one second.)

So I was thinking about energy, nothing, antimatter, and dark matter/energy. Before the Big Bang there was nothing, and then there was suddenly a tiny point of infinite energy which was the universe. So it seems to me that being completely nothing is an absurdly unstable state. So unstable that it had to immediately become everything. Nothing and everything could be sort of dual state, like how light is both particles and a wave. I sort of feel like this nothing might have something to do with dark energy too... though I'm not sure how, so maybe not.

In any case, I feel like I understand the beginnings of the universe a little better now, as I always do when I watch or read something new about it. I have a better grasp on just how fast it all happened in the beginning, how the first particles came about, and the stupendous amount of matter that was completely annihilated by antimatter. Awesome stuff. There were really pretty visuals too.


Today, a story!

Seven months ago I was a perfectly ordinary button, going about my buttony life. I was a vital part of a dashing blue shirt. The threads keeping my position secure however, were gradually growing looser, weaker, fraying apart, and no one seemed to notice. I tried to call out to my fellow buttons, and to the wearer of our garment, but I did not appear to have a voice. There was nothing I could do but desperately cling to my fraying strings as best I could, until one day as I was brushed, I fell from their grasp, tumbling to the ground. I watched helplessly as the shirt with the rest of its buttons disappeared from view as our wearer walked away, unaware that I had been lost.

I sat alone on the street in shock. I had never dreamed this would happen. Surely my absence should have been noticed at once. But no one came to my rescue. I waited there for hours. The sky grew dark above me, and I saw something that amazed me, for while I had seen the night before, I had never been faced toward the sky. It was gradually filling with countless tiny shining buttons. I at once knew what I wanted more than anything. I wanted to be one of the buttons in the sky. But how? Who would sew me there? But I had to try. And so started my great adventure...


Sometimes I decide that I want to paint, though I do it very haphazardly. I throw the paint onto the canvas or paper, not really thinking about what I'm doing, until I come to a point where I realize I should actually do things with a bit more purpose so the end product is not such a mess. More often than not I will just stop painting for the day at this point, and may or may not decide to actually go back and fix what I was doing. Given my general painting style, I think it a good thing I use acrylic rather than oil paint. Since it dries so quickly I can paint over the madness I had lain down two minutes ago without the colors becoming muddy. Plus there's the bonus of the paint being cheaper, and not having to wait three weeks for the paint to dry.

And then sometimes I get it in my head that I want to use watercolors, though I lack the confidence and skill to use watercolors in the way I like to see them. Rather than bold single strokes and beautiful washes, I set about the painting very tentatively with dozens of very thin layers, slowly building up to my final colors, in a way that only the best watercolor paper can stand up to.

Probably I just need to paint more.

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All work © Maryanne Rose Papke
Props to Blambot for the ArrrMatey font