Every time I fall into depression, I think about the universe.
“The beauty and clearness of the dynamic theory, which asserts heat and light to be modes of motion, is at present obscured by two clouds.” This was said by the physicist William Thomson (Lord Kelvin) on April 27, 1900, in a speech that pointed to the gaps in classical physics that prevented a complete description of the Universe. After that, these clouds cleared. Special relativity and quantum mechanics were gradually established, subverting the classical regime in favor of the modern.
The Standard Model describes the particle interactions that build up the universe. It was proposed according to the theories of quantum mechanics and relativity. With the recent discovery of its final particle, the Higgs boson, the Standard Model is now complete. Laboratory confirmation of the Higgs boson provides further experimental verification of these theories. From a human perspective, a more empirical way of reasoning the now complete universe may be that God does not exist, that existence itself is absurd, and consciousness is just a coincidence.
So maybe we are all just dust in the grand universe. We are all formed by the same particles and run by the fundamental interactions between them. That’s the attractive thing about the universe. The universe has no purpose. Maybe the universe will collapse into a singularity again. Maybe everything will expand forever and grow cold in a heat death. From the deterministic moment of the big bang, when the singularity of the universe exploded, we were born as a result of the chance asymmetry between matter and antimatter. We judge everyone and ourselves by superficial desire: we plunder, kill, war, for desire. But when we are a hundred years old, we will all die, we will not leave anything; the universe will not remember what we got, the universe will not leave a tombstone engraved for anyone. Our consciousnesses will be equal and free.
Will it be better tomorrow? It may be worse. But it never makes me despair. Because I know that every time I watch the starry sky, there are binary stars staring at each other light years away, supernova bursting in the interweaving of light and heat, particles like leptons and baryons dancing in the spin. All human judgments fail at this moment. The universe is with me.
Yuntao Dai is studying ESOL at the Adult Learning Center of CUNY’s City Tech. His teachers are Jay Klokker and Charles Perkins. He immigrated from China in 2018. He writes, “What the tortuous life teaches me is that every creature should be admired. There is an episode in Rick and Morty that portrays a machine. In that machine, anyone could experience another’s entire life. I wish we could have that machine, so that everyone could know everyone, and everyone could love everyone.” Yuntao Dai is preparing to apply to CUNY.