When Albert Einstein was a student in Munich, he decided to go on a trek. At night, as he lay on the grass, looking up at the immense vault of the night sky, he watched the millions of stars celebrating the universe amid the darkness of space. “Then I realised how small man is,” he later wrote about the experience. From Aryabhata to Agrippa and Copernicus to Einstein, space fascinates astronomers and ordinary men alike. What is it? Is it emptiness through which planets spin in their ellipses and moons revolve like cosmic sycophants? Is it a medium where, like in sci-fi movies, one can travel to the past and future? Or is it an endlessly expanding vacuum with its own destiny; the host of Heaven, God and angels while the earth and its underworld are the abode of demons? That Divinity is ethereal while Evil is tangible is the essence of faith. So what happens to emptiness?
In 2012, scientists at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) discovered, using the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the God Particle whose energy field helps convert mass into matter. The search for God by the devout and the quest for understanding the universe are both the same. It’s the journey towards the meaning of life. Where did it begin? Did God create man on a Saturday and took the weekend off? Or did Prajapati make man and the universe that grew slowly over billions of years? Islam, Judaism and Christianity share the same concept of creation that Adam and Eve were the first mortals. In an earth filled with mountains, rivers, cities, people and the myriad things that make up the world as we know it, one remains unexplored—emptiness.
As Einstein said, nothing is not nothing. That nothing is dark energy and matter. It makes up 96 per cent of the universe—68 per cent dark energy, 27 per cent dark matter, and visible galaxies and heavenly bodies constituting the rest. CERN’s next mission this May is to crack the mystery using an improved version of the LHC. The connotation of ‘dark’ is negative—a brooding malevolent entity that dooms as it is doomed itself. But darkness is also what lies unrevealed, and ironically, the universe, driven by dark energy, is a secret that creates more secrets when revealed. Such is the nature of knowledge.
The Greek philosophers called it the fifth matter—an acute insight into modern science. Only a fool would question the symbiosis between philosophy and science—both are inquiries into the nature of man and the world, or the universe itself. Einstein’s theory of gravity accounts for a “cosmological constant”—the value of the energy density of the vacuum of space. Is space filled with an unknown energy fluid? Or a field that defies the relativity theory, which creates cosmic acceleration? Scientists don’t have the answer, so they simply called it dark energy.
So, is God the essence of dark energy? Everything exists in it and it exists in everything. So, is only 4 per cent of the universe karma? Is it dark energy that we become after we have exhausted the possibility of all action through different life cycles? Hence, any pop-theory of the physical and the metaphysical would
explain the mystery of life and that there is more to it. As Einstein said, “Nothing is faster than the speed of light, or is it?”
Life is mathematics of answers as questions keep multiplying. In an elm and holly grove on the grounds of the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, is the Albert Einstein Monument—a giant statue of the physicist with the nightsky at his feet—2,700 metal points showing the location of the sun, moon, planets, four asteroids, five galaxies, 10 quasars, and many stars as it was on April 22, 1979, when the memorial was dedicated. And most of it is, naturally, dark matter.