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Point of View: Our Universe Is Expanding

Wed, 06/23/2021 - 18:28

The father of two young boys who are very good swimmers said at a family gathering the other day that he far preferred youth sports, such as swimming, golf, and tennis, in which incremental self-improvement was the chief goal rather than winning.

“Like life,” I said. “Isn’t wanting to improve pretty much the point of it? Why else am I reading all these books I don’t understand?”

On our return home, I extracted from the mailbox a book on cosmology by The New York Times’s science writer, Dennis Overbye. “Ah, another book I won’t be able to comprehend,” I said gleefully.

Mary, who knows how marvelous and mysterious life is without having to read a lot of books about it, laughed too.

With her eyes on the stars, but her feet on the ground, Mary is reading of Lincoln and the Civil War these days, and every now and then she will tug me back from quasars at the edge of the universe to read about how inert Major Gen. George McClellan — yet another thorn in Lincoln’s side — was. I like to time-travel with her.

In the not-too-distant future we will, I suppose, collapse upon ourselves, but for the moment, thanks to the revival of conviviality here, we’re faring rather well in the struggle against entropy, the only difference between us being that I want to know what’s wrong with me — perhaps so that I’ll have something to write about — and she’d rather not.

Our universe, as it were, was closed, but now it’s expanding, and that’s nice to know — at least until critical mass is reached near the end of July.

Meanwhile, the dance of life has begun again, subatomic particles and D.J.s are spinning, and the force of levity is exerting an irrepressible pull.

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