Academic journal article Mankind Quarterly

Cosmic Legacy: Space, Time, and the Human Mind

Academic journal article Mankind Quarterly

Cosmic Legacy: Space, Time, and the Human Mind

Article excerpt

Cosmic Legacy: Space, Time, and the Human Mind Greg F. Reinking Vantage Press, New York, 2003 ISBN 0-533-14027-7

In this truly remarkable book, synthesizing contemporary information on space, matter, time and the human mind, the author documents in highly comprehensible language what is known and what can be theorized about the origins and nature of the Universe, Time and Mankind. Human neurological development and theories of consciousness, intelligence and human behavior are discussed against a backdrop of the vast powers at work in the Universe, the age of which was estimated as recently as February 2003 at 13.7 billion years, with a one percent margin of error, on the basis of the cosmic microwave background radiation.

The author, Greg Reinking, is well equipped to enlighten us on these great mysteries. His academic career began in the held of electrical engineering, following which he conducted research in molecular physics at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and then studied medical physics at UC Berkeley. After training in surgery and radiology, he completed Harvard University fellowships with the Diagnostic Neuroradiology and Interventional Neuroradiology groups at Massachusetts General Hospital, and has authored numerous articles in scholarly journals in the areas of physics and medicine.

Pointing out that all terrestrial life is derived from star dust collected from the cosmos billions of years ago, the author is able to relate biogenesis, cognition and intelligent reasoning to final realities such as the nature of matter, time and space. Current theories, he states, assume that at the beginning of the Universe there was some kind of "linkage among matter, energy, space, and time, suggesting these ordinarily discrete properties may have been combined in a single form. In fact, the distortions of matter, space and time were so extreme that time may have lost its identity - blurring the meaning of a beginning." While this Big Bang is believed to mark the beginning of time, we cannot comprehend the meaning of the concept 'the beginning of time.' There is no definitive understanding as to what 'time' really is. "In fact, the moment the Universe began is considered indefinable by some investigators, as they argue that time itself may not have existed in the conventional sense."

[Furthermore, the surprising complexity of the vacuum of space, once considered empty and dull, may in fact hold lhc key to unifying these properties. This vacuum, which surrounds us, permeates us, and occupies the vast majority of the Universe, is the realm of quantum particles and their forces - it acts as a medium that transmits the forces of gravity and electromagnetism. Hidden within this vacuum may be the infinitesimal remains of multiple dimensions of space, curled upon themselves since the genesis of our Universe. These infinitesimal dimensions may define the laws of nature, which govern everything that exists.

Several writers have chosen to illustrate the short history of Mankind in relation to the history of the Earth by analogy to events in a 24 hour day, and Reinking has chosen to use this same analogy to portray the history of the Universe within a single year. Since he has applied the latest research to this presentation, it will help the reader to envisage the scope of this work if we quote an abbreviated version here:

Many may regard this as primarily illustrating the brevity of the existence of what contemporary writers choose to call "modern" man (a very vague and arbitrary term), but this reviewer is more impressed by the length of time that life has existed in relation to the total age of the Universe. Indeed, life evolved rapidly on this Earth, once temperature and related conditions permitted, because, as Reinking observes:

Organic life requires only a few elements, which are relatively abundant in the Universe, but they must be organized in highly complex and consequently unstable compounds, and the conditions on the Earth which gave rise to the coordinated collective biochemical processes which we call life were very different from those of today. …

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