Was it GB Shaw who remarked that the more civilized the society, the more gullible its members?
In GB’s time the Flat Earth Society made hay with its grass roots theorists – today, we have much more meaty matters (or anti-matters) to feast upon. Our childhood acceptance of the universe as we saw it – remember those summer nights gazing up at the stars? – is lost forever: lost to a cosmic catalog of the unseen, the obscene and the insubstantial that reads for endless pages of bewilderment.
We are being bombarded: not just occasionally (duck behind the table and it’ll be all right again after seven o’clock) but all the time. Quarks, Bosons, Neutrinos are flying about all over the place at impossible speeds going right through everything – including me. And they are all (nudge nudge, wink wink) invisible! Is it me or do I look rather more perforated than usual this week?
And now (fanfare) we have Dark Matter. No, we can’t see that either. Why? Because it’s dark. All those black bits where stars aren’t; those fill-in places that I used to think were just – well, nothing – are actually full. Of Dark Matter.
So that kicks Star Trek into the long grass. You can’t do warp factor five if you have to keep shoveling black stuff out of the intakes. And what is it, anyway? Jelly? Cotton wool? Is it flammable? Could some astronaut step outside for a cigarette one day and set the universe on fire?
As a lay person I will never see these things, and the proof of their existence is so complex I will never understand them. All I see is the regiment of physicists whose bulging purses and burgeoning bursaries rely upon their continuing story. Forgive my incredulity: discount my suspicions. For another year at least my membership of the Flat Earth Society is secure.