What Did We Ever Do Without Our Universe View?

1957: The Beginnings of a somewhat Integrated Universe View

In 1957 Kees Boeke’s book, Cosmic Vision, The Universe in 40 Jumps, was published; it was the first integrated view of the known universe. He could have but did not engage the Planck base units. He could have, but did not consider any geometric calculations. Yet, he did get the attention of prominent scientists including Nobel laureate Arthur Compton. Thereafter, the Eames film<, the Morrison’s book, Powers of Ten, the IMAX (Smithsonian) movie (guide), and the Huang’s scale of the universe opened this conceptual door for anyone who chose to walk through it.  Anyone could begin to have an integrated view using base-10 notation of the entire universe. It was a fundamental paradigm shift; all the attention given to it has been justified.

Most of the world’s people live within what we might call, their OwnView.  Even though subjective and often quite naïve, the elitists and the solipsistic and narcissistic among us, lift up that view as the best view, the only view, and/or the right view.

If and when we start to grow up, spread our wings and begin to explore beyond our horizons, we develop an objective view of the world.  As we integrate more and more facets of our subjective and objective views, it begins to qualify as a WorldView (in the spirit of the old Weltanschauung).

In light of Boeke’s work, the next step for all of us is to bring whatever WorldView we have, and see how it fits and works within a view of the entire universe. Kees Boeke’s work is historically the very first UniverseView. Although Boeke only had 40 jumps and used base-10 exponential notation, it is still the first systematic view of the entire Universe.

2011:  A Second Universe View Emerges From Another High School

A high school geometry class just up river from the French Quarter of New Orleans developed what appears to be the second systematic UniverseView.  It is quite a bit more granular than Boeke’s work and it originated from the students’ work with simple embedded and nested geometries. Using base-2 exponential notation this  group emerged with about 202+ doublings, layers, notations, or steps from the Planck Length  to the Observable Universe.  Eventually beside each length, the calculations from the Planck Time out to the Age of the Universe were added.

This fully-integrated UniverseView first emerged in December 2011 and was officially dubbed, “Big Board – little universe.” One of the initial boards was over eight feet high and the second and third generations were around 60 inches high.  The entire universe, mathematically-and-geometrically related within 200 or so notations, seemed to bring the universe down to a manageable size!

Now, what do we do with it?

The first thought was that this UniverseView with its 200+ notations could be a good container for Science-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics (STEM) education.  It puts everything in the known universe within a simple ordering system.  Then, in January 2012, in the process of trying to find scholarly references to understand the foundations of their work, the students and their teachers discovered Kees Boeke.  In so many ways, it was a vindication — “Somebody had been here before us.”  Yet, even with all the fanfare around Boeke’s work, not too much was done to extract meaning from that model.

The base-2 model is quite different. It has simple geometries and a more granular mathematics.  The students and teachers thought this ordering system might help to answer those historic queries by Immanuel Kant about (1) who we are, (2) why we are, (3) where we are going, and (4)  the meaning and value of life.

Given this model has a starting point and an end point, the students and teachers opted to see the universe as finite.  Always encouraging students to go deeper in their understanding of mathematics, their teacher, Bruce Camber, commented To engage the Infinite it appears that we hold the objective and subjective in a creative balance and that balance is called geometry, calculus and algebra through which we can more fully discover relations.”

Boeke’s base-10 work has an important role in history.  It gave the human family a starting point to see an ordered universe.  The base-2 model takes the next step. Instead of just adding or subtracting zeroes, it adds 3.333 times more steps or doublings. It provides more data to explore the simplest continuities, relations and dynamics within and between each notation.  Base-2 is the heart and spirit of cellular division, chemical bonding, complexification (1 & 2), and bifurcation.

Perhaps it is here that the academic community might begin to create a truly relational, integrated and functional UniverseView. Surely it is here that we find the rough-and-tumble within science.

So, although base-2 UniverseView is the second UniverseView, it seems to hold some promise.  And though these are preliminary models,  just a crack in the doorway, what a sweet and simple opening it is.  Perhaps Kepler would be proud.

This high school group is now just starting to discover the work of  real-and-graciously-open scholars.  With the help of this larger academic community, our work just might  somehow capture the spirit of one of the world great physicists throughout history, John Wheeler, when he said, “Behind it all is surely an idea so simple, so beautiful, that when we grasp it — in a decade, a century, or a millennium — we will all say to each other, how could it have been otherwise? How could we have been so stupid for so long?” 

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