The Psychonaut’s Guide to the Universe

The Antennae Galaxies as seen by Hubble.

June, 2017

Times, they are a changin’, but aren’t they always? That’s time’s deal. No moment is the same as the last – no arrangement of stars and galaxies and planets stays exactly as it was a moment ago. Even in your bedroom, there are so many atoms and molecules floating around (and at such high speeds) that the odds of them being in the same state from one moment to the next are virtually zero. The universe is in a perpetual state of change.

Of course, statistical physics wasn’t what Bob Dylan had in mind when he wrote his song, was it? His words, however, still ring true today – perhaps more than ever.

Our society and our culture are changing. Some might look at the political upheaval, the injustice in the world, and the angry ranting on our information boxes and say, ‘Things are worse than ever!’ Some things are bad, it’s true. But today we also have freedoms our ancestors couldn’t imagine. We can travel the world, associate with humans of all races, backgrounds, and sexual orientations, and access information about almost anything we want, just like Douglas Adams’ characters in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. We can dress as we like, wear lenses to improve our vision, and color our hair and clothes with hues that would make a caveman’s eyes pop out of his head.

Other big changes are afoot too. In the early parts of the 20th century, even alcohol consumptions was prohibited. Now, we’re seeing the beginnings of legalization of drugs like marijuana and a softening or regulations on the research of other natural drugs and psychedelic compounds. People are beginning to seek out better treatments for their problems, embracing the power of science to explore the benefits and risks of various substances.

In addition, the festivals and mega-concerts of the 90’s and early 2000’s have given birth to a new generation of event and cultural experimentation. Once, we were nostalgic about Woodstock, about the music, revelry, freedom, and expression that happened at that huge event. Now, travelers and music fans can take their pick from a wide variety of experiences. Some, like Bonaroo, feature dozens of musical acts; others like Burning Man feature massive sculptures, art installations, and glowing vehicles.

A photo from Burning Man, in Nevada

This things are privileges, to be sure — there’s no denying that — and people are struggling out there. Poverty is still widespread, wages are low, healthcare is a mess, and scientific progress is under attack. But younger generations are growing up with new technologies and new ideas about how to live their lives. A revolution is quietly afoot, though many of our political and spiritual leaders may not even be aware.

In these posts, I hope to explore some of these things – especially the scientific developments. My background is in physics, so there will be lots of rambling about particles, stars, and galaxies, as well as mathematical and natural patterns. But I’ll try to write about interesting and ideas and research I see I see in other fields too.

More to come!

Upcoming Posts / Chapters:

  1. Introduction: The Beginning of the New Psychedelic Era
  2. The Universe Large and Small
  3. The 4 Forces of Nature
  4. Cosmic Minecraft: The Building Blocks of Reality
  5. The Planets: We lost Pluto but we found the galaxy
  6. Chemicals, Chemistry, and You
  7. Math: The operating system of the universe
  8. Patterns, Patterns Everywhere
  9. The Search for Meaning
  10. Recommended Reading

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