Wednesday, January 16, 2013

On stories of the universe

If your eyes are not deceived by the mirage do not be proud of the sharpness of your understanding. It may be your freedom from this optical illusion is due to the imperfectness of your thirst.

Two years ago I removed most of my fish from a tiny pond one late autumn day, and put them in a larger pond.

The next spring, I found a fish left behind.

For over two years I have tried to catch it, and for two years it evaded me, living alone in a tiny universe by my back stoop, surviving under thick ice in January, brutal warmth in July. It had not seen another fish for over two years.

Until last night. Under the cover of a cloudy wintry night, I managed to slip a net under it.

And now it swims with other fish in the larger pond, and while it may not make a difference to the fish (though I suspect it does), it certainly makes a difference to me.

How much of the universe exists beyond what we imagine, and how much of what we imagine does not really exist?

It's a more difficult question than we recognize.


Kate said...

This both breaks my heart and makes me smile. What is real? How alone am I in my own pond?

I guess this means I really have to look at the other fish, doesn't it?

doyle said...

Dear Kate,

Not sure why the fish mattered as much as it did, but it did.

Not sure the story has a whole lot to do with teaching science, but I think it has a lot to do with how science alters what we know.

But that's not why I posted it.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to reply to your other post, about people who deny the evidence of their own experience, but these really go together, don't they? If you only experience what's in your little pond, you never get challenged. And if you experience something that you did not expect, it's easier to deny it.
I watched kids determined to prove that putting more pennies into a film canister make it displace more water (because the amount of water displaced depends on the weight of the object...). I watched them for 30 minutes, until they had to accept the inevitable. But the other kids who watched them STILL didn't believe it.

Lee said...

Maybe the fish liked being alone in the pond, having it all to him/herself. Maybe that's why it kept evading capture. There's an exception to every rule, after all, isn't there? Sometimes the world can be too big, forget about the universe.