Friday, December 10

Happiness Defined

I recently wrote a reply to someone else's Facebook post that said:

"The source of modern unhappiness is, as it always has been, the belief in happiness."

Which is pretty much wrong.

I mean, there is an element of truth in there, because to a certain extent what you believe matters, however, there are also other ways to be unhappy that have nothing to do with your mindset, for example, (and this is something you can test) you can stub your toe. You could also break a leg, fall off a cliff, or convince someone to punch you in the face, all of which can be pretty unhappy.

Regardless of your mental outlook, pain is unhappy.

(For most people. Yes, there are people that have mismatched wires that think pain is super, but there are also all sorts of people with mental health issues, so for sake of argument, let's just assume that pain is a type of unhappiness.)

So let's define a couple of relationships then:
  • Physical Happiness = Pleasure
  • Physical Unhappiness = Pain
Seems pretty straightforward. Of course, this begs the question, what about the converse relationships? What about the non-physical realm? Well first off, let's use a better term for "non-physical;" I'm partial to "abstract." So what would we call the flip sides of these coins?
  • Abstract Happiness = Triumph
  • Abstract Unhappiness = Grief
Let's give these a closer look so that it's absolutely clear what I mean by these words. When I say "triumph," I am using that word to describe any situation where you have some sort of abstract happiness, like if you just got a great new job, you made a bunch of money, or you just graduated college. Maybe you just solved a problem that had been irking you, or wrote an excellent poem. Your baby nephew might have just been born, your favorite football team just won the Super Bowl, you just became President, or one of an infinite number of abstract situations that you feel victorious about.

On the flip side, grief is a mental unhappiness, from the loss of a great job, to losing it all in the stock market, to getting kicked out of college. Maybe you gave up on that problem because it was too difficult, or you just realized your poetry is horrendous. Your nephew might have just been killed in a car crash, your team went 0-16, you lost the election for class president, or one of an infinite number of abstract situations that you feel terrible about.

(I am aware that situations that can cause triumph and grief can and often do invoke pleasure or pain. For example, if a loved one dies, not only do you feel the mental anguish of them passing, but you also feel physical pain from that grief. This is because these labels are not mutually exclusive, meaning you can take pleasure and triumph from something, just as you can take pain and grief from something. Just be aware that because there is a link between the physical world and our minds, so too is there a connection between these emotional states.)

Let's add one more piece to the puzzle:

Assumption #1: There is nothing outside of Physical + Abstract.

What this means is that I am assuming that there is nothing outside of our existence that matters for the purpose of this discussion. I'm pretty much saying, "If you can't sense it or comprehend it, then who cares?" So that said, let's add up what we've thought about so far:

Happiness = Physical Happiness + Abstract Happiness
Happiness = Pleasure + Triumph


Unhappiness = Physical Unhappiness + Abstract Unhappiness
Unhappiness = Pain + Grief


Now, you may be saying, so what? What's the point?

Well, for starters, I can fix my Facebook post to mean something more truthful. Something like:

"The source of modern unhappiness is, as it always has been, pain, and the belief in triumph."

Which leads me to the third state of being, which I will leave for another post.

Tuesday, December 7

Where is All the Dark Matter/Energy?

I've been thinking about Dark Matter and Dark Energy, which is to say that I've been speculating possible reasons for why we have no idea where most of the matter and energy in our universe is. Just take a look at this graph:

This pretty much means that 96% of the mass/energy in the universe is not visible to us. Which is sort of confusing. I mean, we can see stars, we can see gas, we can see the rocks and matter all around us, but for some inexplicable reason we are unable to visibly see 80% of all matter, or even observe, let alone harness most of the energy in our universe.

Let me combine this idea with my previous post about a super advanced alien civilization:

For sake of an analogy, pretend we are fish. We are swimming up a river, and bam, out of the blue, we hit this barrier where we can't go upstream anymore. Our fishy senses are confused, because hundreds of thousands of years of evolution have programmed us to want to swim up this stream, but for some reason we are blocked. Something hard and impassible obstructs our way, and we are unable to continue, unable to advance up this river, all because of a dam.

Now imagine a super advanced civilization of aliens. Perhaps these aliens evolved in another universe, somewhere trillions or quadrillions of years in the past from our own universe. Maybe they developed a way to travel through space and time, and even between universes, and they have been skipping between universes, colonizing as they go. Perhaps these technologies require unthinkable amounts of energy, possibly the energy from many stars, from many galaxies, from many universes, all acquired by this supremely powerful species.

(Just like how we have dominated the resources on our own planet, and would absolutely ransack the resources of nearby planets, if we could only figure out a cheap way to get there.)

So imagine this alien species is here already. Perhaps they have already harnessed 95% of the matter/energy in our universe, possibly with a super advanced version of a Dyson Sphere, that blocks all outgoing radiation with a super thin mesh of nano-robot solar panels. They could place these megastructures on any star, at any point in time, at the exact moment of a star's birth, to maximize the efficiency of their consumption.

What if we can't see most of the matter and energy in the universe, for the simple explanation that they are already being harvested by someone else? What if there is a fifth level to the Kardashev scale, where an alien civilization has not only consumed all of the energy of their universe, but has moved on to dominate millions or billions of other universes, including our own?

If this is true, then I would alter the Zoo Hypothesis to something much more humbling, something more fitting of our proper place in the universe:

I'd call it the Fishbowl Hypothesis.