The world of humans is witnessing problems of ominous proportions: a kicked out Kaddafi in hiding in Libya, Syria in turmoil under an awful Assad, Anna Hazare cross with corruption in India and fiercely fasting, rioting in London, casino catastrophe in Mexico killing more than fifty innocent players, Hurricane Irene threatening the East coast of the U.S. after a not minor earthquake, time-honored terrorism in Pakistan and Iraq, no less terrible things in Nigeria and Sudan, a murderous maniac in Norway, global financial crisis, not to mention the Iranian Hitler promising to wipe out Israel in a fiery speech. As if this not all enough, there are raging controversies about epistemology, science, theism and naturalism.
In the midst of all this, astronomers coolly, if not gleefully, announce they have spotted a supermassive black hole swallowing a star. Just imagine, if you can, a huge, a huge huge Sun disappearing all of a sudden into the claustrophobic entrails of an abysmal black hole of diminutive dimensions, abruptly putting an end to all the fiery nuclear fusions at the core of the resplendent star, carrying away with it perhaps its family of planets, if such there were, never, never to return to tell the tale of its dark adventure in the no-time- no-space realm of a black hole.
This is the Mother of All Monstrous events compared to which the exploits of suicide bombers seem puny, petty, pathetic, and paltry, except for one thing: The swallowing of a star by a black hole, fantastic and gigantic as it is, and exciting to a handful of astronomers, occurred in a distant region of the universe, hundreds of thousands of years ago perhaps, and it has less than zilch effect on our everyday lives, whereas the mindless monstrosities and deliberate destructions committed by earthly evil-mongers, whether corrupt officials, dangerous dictators, or stupid suicide bombers affect thousands of mostly innocent and helpless people, as do earthquakes and hurricanes, and exploring the roots and relevance of epistemology is immensely satisfying to our restless intellects. If these earthly matters seem far more serious, it is because the magnitude of any problem is inversely proportional our distance from it.
August 26, 2011