Forget ghosts, look to the cosmos this Halloween

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Humans have always been pattern-seeking creatures, captivated by all they do not understand and driven by survival to find truth in their surroundings. With just a simple glance at cave art or a reading of early folklore, one will see the rudimentary attempts of early humans seeking to explain the natural world. Of course, with the advent of the printing press, the Age of Enlightenment and the modern age of information, humans have come much further in understanding the world around them. Some might argue that society has unveiled so much that the advancements of technology and science leave little to the imagination, yet, people are still drawn to the fantastic and mystical.

Death and dying are one of those mystical topics with stories that abound across almost every society. Tales about the lives of deceased loved ones often supplant reality keeping the dead alive in the memories of those that knew them. Occasionally, memories of the deceased will grow into visions of ghosts haunting, outliving, those that knew them. The ghosts linger through generations with unfinished business, and the stories grow.

In a life that is either unexpectedly short or predictably cruel, it’s no wonder people want to believe in ghosts or the supernatural. The thought of an afterlife leads to the notion that participation in this world is still possible after death, easing the afflictions in life and the grief of death. However, all the knowledge scientists have gathered about the observable world does not provide any evidence that an afterlife exists.

Popular TV shows like Ghost Hunters often use electronic instruments to show super quiet noises or electromagnetic waves as “evidence” but with a consistent lack of reproducible results. Research suggests certain electromagnetic and sub-audible sound frequencies can cause people to feel as if they are being watched, which all serves to discredit the sensational and anecdotal claims that these shows make.

Although this criticism may feel like an affront of the magical stuff that scratches a primal human desire to be mystified, there is an abundance of mystery within the natural world that is still unknown.

For starters, the lack of a single theory to bridge human understanding of space and time, gravity, or general relativity, with the forces between protons and neutrons, is quite mystifying in and of itself. Not to mention the possible existence of parallel universes and wormholes, which as described by as “a theoretical passage through space-time that could create shortcuts for long journeys across the universe,” as implied by Einstein’s relativity.

Lest one should ever feel that the mountain of evidence of modernity rob them of the opportunity to be captivated with mystery, point them not to ghosts, but to the incomprehensibly vast universe and all of its mystery.

So, this Halloween, don’t worry about ghosts. Go outside, look up into the sky, and let the mystery that is literally surrounding you rattle your bones and fill you with terrific wonder.


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