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The Wonder Podcast द्वारा प्रदान की गई सामग्री. एपिसोड, ग्राफिक्स और पॉडकास्ट विवरण सहित सभी पॉडकास्ट सामग्री The Wonder Podcast या उनके पॉडकास्ट प्लेटफ़ॉर्म पार्टनर द्वारा सीधे अपलोड और प्रदान की जाती है। यदि आपको लगता है कि कोई आपकी अनुमति के बिना आपके कॉपीराइट किए गए कार्य का उपयोग कर रहा है, तो आप यहां बताई गई प्रक्रिया का पालन कर सकते हैं https://hi.player.fm/legal
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WOW! Wonder and Paganism

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The Wonder Podcast द्वारा प्रदान की गई सामग्री. एपिसोड, ग्राफिक्स और पॉडकास्ट विवरण सहित सभी पॉडकास्ट सामग्री The Wonder Podcast या उनके पॉडकास्ट प्लेटफ़ॉर्म पार्टनर द्वारा सीधे अपलोड और प्रदान की जाती है। यदि आपको लगता है कि कोई आपकी अनुमति के बिना आपके कॉपीराइट किए गए कार्य का उपयोग कर रहा है, तो आप यहां बताई गई प्रक्रिया का पालन कर सकते हैं https://hi.player.fm/legal

Remember, we welcome comments, questions, and suggested topics at thewonderpodcastQs@gmail.com.

S4E19 TRANSCRIPT:----more----

Yucca: Welcome back to the Wonder Science-based Paganism. I'm your host, Yucca,

Mark: and I'm Mark.

Yucca: and today we're gonna talk about wonder. So that's what we're about, right? We're about, this is the wonder. So we're gonna explore the idea of wonder, and then we're also gonna talk about a few things that inspire that in us as well.

Mark: Things that make us go Wow.

Yucca: Yep.

Mark: Yeah. The. The reason that I suggested that the name of the podcast be The Wonder is that I think that that is at root, the spiritual motivation, right? That you know to, yes, there's the desire for meaning, there's the desire for a sense of place in the world and purpose in life and all those kinds of things.

But fundamentally, I think. That sense of just being awestruck by the, the fact that we exist, the fact of the universe and the world existing. I just think that's really a core spiritual sentiment and or, or experience. And so a lot of what I focus. My rituals on and, you know, efforts at creating oth, you know, materials to support other people in creating their rituals is about fostering that sense of wonder and awe.

Yucca: Yes. Yeah. And there's. There's so much of it really, it, it, whatever, wherever your interests lie, there's, there's just so much to explore and and it's one of those sensations that's very hard to describe, but it's really feeding in. Its to experience that.

Mark: Yeah. I mean, the more I learn about the world, you know, in, you know, in microcosm or in macrocosm, the more often I wanna say, wow, that's amazing.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: You know, I, I think about, I mean, there's, there's millions of examples, but talk so toxoplasmosis. Let's, let's start there. Okay. This is a virus that is communica that cats get, and it's also communicable to humans and to other mammals.

Toxoplasmosis controls your brain when it goes into rodents. They get careless, they get bolder and braver and And more fool, hearty. And that works perfectly for cats, right?

Yucca: Yes, it works out right.

Mark: so now cats have toxoplasmosis, right? And cats that have toxoplasmosis are friendlier. They are more apt to be domesticated.

So then they move in with the humans, and the humans by contact with the cat's. Feces can get toxoplasmosis, and one of the things that it makes them really want to do is to feed the cats.

Yucca: Yes.

Mark: So, I mean, literally all of this stuff is scientifically demonstrated. All of this is this little tiny virus, which is, you know, just a little string of genetic information.

And all of this stuff is true and it, you look at this and just go, my God, how is this possible?

Yucca: Mm-hmm. And it's, and it's all over. Right? I know that that's something that is regularly tested for. If you're, if you're pregnant, they test, they go, oh, do you have a cat? Okay, let's test you for that.

Mark: Yeah. Yeah.

Yucca: yeah, and I don't know if there are, what health implications there are for that other than it does have some impact on personality, right.

For people as well. That it makes them more like that they. Their relation to ship to risk is a little, just like with the mice, is a little bit different than it might be if you didn't have the infection.

Mark: Yeah, and it makes them a little bit more agreeable as well, just a little bit more amenable to going along with whatever somebody else suggests which is just a hell of a thing. You know, we, we think we have free will. We think that we are piloting our ourselves through our lives, and here comes this little bug and it actually distorts our decision making process.

Yucca: Well, it challenges the, the idea of who self is. There's a lot of things today that do that, that really have us look at what is me really,

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Yucca: Right. What, and especially when we start getting into the realm of, of the microbiome and where do we start drawing the line between my microbiome and my cells?

Which ones are me, which ones aren't? Are we saying we distinguishing between d n a? What about mitochondria? All of that stuff starts to we're starting to find that the lines between all of that are a lot more blurry than we used to think.

Mark: Right e each of us is a, a functioning interpenetrated ecosystem. One emergent property of which is this thing called consciousness. But that is that because it is an emergent property of a body, which is an interpenetrated ecosystem is heavily influenced by what's going on in that ecosystem. And some of that is human, d n a and some of it's not. In fact, more of it is not than is.

Yucca: So let's, let's, before we can, there's a whole bunch of different things we can discuss, but let's come back to the idea of wonder a little bit before going into some of the specifics of things that that feel, that evoke that sense in us. One of the things that we were talking about when we were coming up with what topics we wanted to discuss was the idea that, that some people have that wonder has to also include ignorance that you can only have wonder if you are ignorant about it.

And that's something that I wanna say that I don't agree with.

Mark: Me

Yucca: think that wonder often has a, has humility as part of it. That's certainly for me, is often a sense when I look at the night sky. There's this, I'm just overwhelmed with the awe and the wonder of all of it and the knowledge that I know very, very little about it, but I also know a lot about it.

Right. That's my, that's my field. I know a lot about that little red dot right there that we call Mars. Right. For me only makes it more awe-inspiring because there's even more, the, the knowledge of all of that is part of that awe, but also the recognition that there is a lot that I don't know.

But it doesn't have to be. Awe isn't just what I don't understand. There's awe at what I do understand as well.

Mark: Right. Yeah. When we were talking about this, I was mentioning that a, apparently there's some academic who has written that naturalistic paganism is somehow. Either faulty or not real in some sense. Because the awe that happens when you don't, the awe that comes from mystery is somehow has a cache that the awe that comes from knowledge doesn't.

And I really disagree as you do Yucca. When I'm standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon. I can be awestruck by what a gigantic big hole that is. But the fact that I know that it's billions of years of accumulated layers of sedimentary rock that I'm looking at, that just changes everything.

Understanding that the slow uplift of the Kibab plateau allowed the Colorado River to carve that amazing, magnificent earth temple. Is that really blows my socks off. So, so, you know, in the same way that I'm, you know, filled with wonder by a, a beautiful rainbow, even though I understand how refraction works

Yucca: And then you get to be awed by that

Mark: yes,

Yucca: and then thinking, and then it leads to, wait a second, our eyes perceive those particular colors. Why is that right? And tracing all of that back and we're back to, you know, jellyfish. We'll come back to jellyfish in a while. Yeah.

Mark: Yeah. So, you know, what I find is that scientists who. Truly embrace the scientific mindset. And there are many scientists who don't. There are many scientists who are, they're either ego involved with their findings or they're just very, very narrowly focused and you know, are very invested in being emotionally dispassionate.

But, but the scientists that I know that are truly filled with that, that humble curiosity. Just to, you know, I just want to find out how does this work? Einstein was one, Fineman was one. Hawking was one. Carl Sagan was one. You know, these are people that are, you know, elated at, at what they know about the universe.

Filled to the brim with joy about. About what they know and about what they can observe. Because they're looking with informed eyes, not, not just looking at something and go, wow. Going, wow, that's very cool. And it's mysterious. I don't know what it is.

Yucca: Yeah.

You know, last episode you'd mentioned the pale blue dot.

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Yucca: From Sagan. Right. And that's one that often comes up for me thinking about with the awe, just seeing, you know, just that one image you can think of, that particular image. Which by the way, the new Horizons. Which is the craft that went to Pluto and is currently exploring the, the Kuiper Belt is in its second extended mission.

And one of the things that they are currently investigating whether they can do, is seeing if they can turn it around and look back because the camera that they have aboard new Horizons is first of all, far farther out. But it. Much more advanced camera being something that was launched in the two thousands rather than something launched back in the seventies.

And so fingers crossed that we might have another image looking back from even farther at the moment. It's currently studying the ice giants from the other side, which we'd never done before. So, but, but coming back to the, to the original one that. Just looking at that image that it is something big that we're looking at.

Right. But we had, we've used the examples already of thinking about awe in terms of the Grand Canyon or the night sky, but there's also awe in that tiny dot, right? It is huge because we're looking at an entire planet, but we're also just looking at a, what looks like just a moat of dust and that, and awe doesn't have a.

A limit to size. Right. A is not only in the giant, in the huge A is also in the tiny and the quiet, and it just at any angle that you're looking or listening at, there's just that, I mean, I just don't even have the words to say it because it's such an experiential thing.

Mark: Well in the, in the contemplation of scale itself. Right. Even just contemplating the nature of scale, you know, we know so much about the subatomic world now, right? We, we, we know quite a bit about, you know, the realities that are happening down at the quantum level, and here we are. I. You know where microorganisms are.

Incomprehensibly small to us. Our own cells are incomprehensibly small to us. You know, we have dust mites living in our furniture and we have eyelash mites living in our eyelashes,

Yucca: Those delight me. I love those so much.

Mark: me too. I think they're so cool. So, you know, the tiny goes all the way down and the big goes all the way up.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: And that in and of itself is awe inspiring, that the universe is so intricate, so, so amazingly finely, finely defined that it has all those different layers of scale and that it has since the Big Bang. You know, from the very beginning, from the Big Bang, we started out with little, tiny, tiny, tiny proto particles and. Things have been snapping together into increasingly complex emergent phenomena ever since. If we didn't know anything about physics, if we didn't know anything about evolution, if we didn't know anything about cosmology, we couldn't appreciate any of that, and it is awesome.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: It's just awesome.

Yucca: One of my favorite things that I do with my students is I have a four minute video that is of the scale of the universe, and we start at a plunk length and we go all the way up to this, the observable universe. And it's just you're zooming out, right? And you're just going out, you know, each time it's 10 times larger.

And yeah, I start by asking them, okay, everybody, I wanna get a vote. Do you think humans. Are, do you think humans are big or humans are small, right? Are we big? Are we huge or are we tiny? And I get a vote from everybody, right? And mark that down. And then we, we watch this video and it takes about two minutes to get to humans where you can see humans from going from the smallest theoretical size, and it still takes a while to get to the smallest confirmed size, but just watching their faces.

As we're going out and them going, wait, what? What? And then we start getting up into the bigger scales and the bigger scales, and we're getting all the way up to galaxies and super clusters, and then we're up to the observable universe, which probably there's way more universe, but there's a limit to how much we can see.

Right?

Mark: Right.

Yucca: And then asking them next. Okay. Does anyone wanna change their vote? And the quality of their voice is different after watching this video. Right? And you're just seeing them for the first time go, wow, wow. There's nothing like that. And of course, almost all of them change their vote at the end to both, right?

Is yes, we are unbelievably huge. And then, but we are tiny.

Mark: But we're minuscule. Yeah. Yeah. That's great. That's, that's a super great lesson for, for science students.

Yucca: I think for any, I mean, these are specifically for my science students, but I, you know, in any, I think that's a great one. In, in any field, right? Whether somebody's going into science or not. Just a perspective on the world.

Mark: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And So, you know, one of the things that I've said about atheopagan is that it's the spirituality of the verifiably real.

Yucca: Hmm.

Mark: You know, there's, there's, it's possible, theoretically not consistent with any scientific theory, but con contextually it's possible that there are gods, right.

We don't have any evidence that would lead one to conclude that, but you know, we can imagine that that might be true, right?

Yucca: Sure.

Mark: Irrelevant to me

Yucca: Maybe me too. That's the thing I was gonna say, I don't really care if

Mark: if there's so little evidence for it. There is so much here that I am just knocked out by, and it gives me so much of a sense of meaning and joy and, and appreciation that I don't need to extend to stuff that requires me to suspend my disbelief in order to, in order to embrace it.

I just, I don't need to go there.

Yucca: Right. Well, why don't we talk about a few of the things that that recently have given us. That sense of, of wow. And also I wanna put in a, an overlapping feeling as well as that delight, right? I think that delight and wonder aren't necessarily the same, but for me, they often come together,

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Yucca: right? So a couple of the ones I wanna talk about are just ones that I just find delightful as well as awe-inspiring. But do you wanna start?

Or,

Mark: why don't you start while I'm figuring out what I'm gonna do

Yucca: sure. Well, we, we've been on the space one for a while. So there's, I have some non-space stuff as well, but there's, I. A, a paper that I read recently, and actually it was by the PI of the mission. We just talked about New horizons. So Alan Stern and he's talking about I wows.

So I Wows are internal water, ocean worlds. So these are planets like, Europa, like Pluto and Celis, it turns out that oceans are really, really common in our solar system and presumably beyond our solar system, right? And so what we are seeing is that we've probably got these worlds that have water, liquid water inside with thick crusts of rock or ice on top. And we've never been able to go down into any of these oceans. There's not yet. I mean, maybe one day. But. There's a lot of conditions in these places that we think would really be good for life. For instance, with Europa, we think that there's probably hydrothermal vents at the bottom of those oceans that there's, you know, that's probably saltwater organic compounds, all the things that we would need for Earthlike life.

And so in this particular paper, which I think is gonna end up being one of those papers that people look back on like Dyson's paper about trying to find extra solar civilizations and things like that. But what he pointed out in this is that these eye wows are much better places for civilizations to evolve.

Than worlds like our own, which are ews, external Water, ocean Worlds, because worlds like Earth we're subject to how cranky our star is being. Right? It depends on how close or how far away from we are from our star. Asteroid impacts, right? That's how to pretty big impact, so to say on the ecology over the years.

So, Civilizations now and again, we don't know if anybody else is out there. We suspect there's, you know, trillions upon trillions of planets. That's a lot of opportunity for there to be civilizations, but that these worlds would be more likely than Ewos to develop civilizations. Now, if that was the case, this is the part that makes me just delighted to think about if there are civilizations, they would be very unlikely to know that stars existed.

Because their world would be under 60 kilometers or hundreds of kilometers of ice. And eventually maybe, maybe they might drill through that and go up to the surface and find out that something's there. But they wouldn't necessarily have the same drive that we've had to go explore the stars because we see them, right?

We see the stars right there. Now. It's harder to get off of our planet than we'd be to get off of one of those planets. Assuming that we're talking about eye wows that are. Smaller planets, right? Like, like Europa is the gravity's much, much lower there.

Mark: but you have to get through those kilometers of ice or rock

Yucca: oh yes. And bring all your water with you. I mean, we gotta bring our air with us too. But if you're from that, you're gonna have to bring your water. You're unlikely to be using the same sort of light. They probably wouldn't see what the part of the electromagnetic spectrum we do. Also, if they're there and they are using radio, which would be very odd for them to have figured out radio if they didn't have.

Other type of using visible light, but that probably wouldn't leak through the ice, so we might not even know they're there. So it just delights me to think that the universe might be, we might be the weird, weird aliens that live on the surface of planets in the harsh light of a star where everybody else out there is, you know, swimming around and, you know, they're the occupy people, right. So that delights me.

Mark: Very cool. We've talked about this before, but if you haven't, go see the movie Europa Report.

Yucca: Yes.

Mark: was, it was made on like a shoestring budget. It was made for like $8,000 or something. Some insanely low amount, and it is a fantastic science

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: really worth seeing.

Yucca: Also before we do, I just wanna make a comment real quick. Some of you might have noticed my usage of the term planet that is consistent in planetary science. We do not use the IAU definition that is never been used, actually used in any science. So referring to. Bodies like Europa, Pluto, ENCE, all of that as planets is consistent with the scientific usage of the term.

So just if anyone caught that, that is that's how we use it in the field. So, yeah.

Mark: Yeah. That it is, that's all inspiring. You know, the idea that these self-contained worlds could be, and of course what that, what that does is it begs the question well, okay, is our universe a bubble of something that's in a matrix of something larger?

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: It's seen seems that that's the way that reality works.

Could the Big Bang have been an extrusion of force space into, you know, further dimensions that have other stuff in them that, that's going on?

Yucca: One of my. Personal favorites is Black Hole Cosmology, which of course is still outside of the actual realm of science because it's not something that's falsifiable at this point. But it's a very popular idea among cosmologists is that inside each black hole is a new universe. So the Big Bang is basically a white hole from the black hole of another universe.

And inside of each of our black holes is another universe that just keeps. You know, creating more and more and more universes. That one makes me really happy.

Mark: Yeah. And there, once again, you see the, the magic of fractals, right? That same repeating pattern happening over and over again with every iteration, slightly different. None of them, none of them identical, but repeating in patterns over and over and over again.

Yucca: Slight difference between each universe, that actually allows for natural selection.

Mark: yes.

Yucca: Because if you have universes which are more likely to make black holes, then they're more likely to pass on their slight differences. But again, we don't know. This is, we're just playing with ideas at this point.

Right. This is, we don't have any evidence to support this, but it's, but they're fun ideas.

Mark: and they're fun ideas that can inspire awe and wonder just through being somewhat scientifically informed. Right. That's all I wonder that you can't access if you're not somewhat scientifically informed because you don't, you don't understand the concepts. So once again, this idea that things need to be capital M mystery in order to be awe-inspiring is just, it's just not right.

I don't understand where that person's coming from at all.

Yucca: Well they do them. We'll be over here talking about Wonder and new research and all that.

Mark: and having joyous and happy lives and building community and making the world a better place.

Yucca: Sounds pretty good. Count me in.

Mark: sounds, sounds okay to me. I'm, you know, that, that's, that's worthy use of my time. So what was I had a couple of examples, but you know, I'm looking out the window right now and I'm just watching tree branches blowing in wind.

Yucca: Hmm.

Mark: And understanding that there is a mathematical language that can describe that,

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: one of those leaves has a friction coefficient. And it has a particular springiness of its stem and of the branch that it grows from, and the wind is turbulent and it shears through all those different surfaces and it causes very specific kinds of motions, none of which are ever exactly the same.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: Time, but all of which can be somewhat predicted. You can, you can predict that it's gonna go back and forth in some kind of way. And I mean, in the, in the einsteinian sense. What that means is that chaos mathematics is the language of God, It's not in a, not in a literal deic being kind of sense, but that the, the, the universe has a mathematical language that will describe it,

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: and that I just find stunning. Just stunning

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: and, and, and particularly the constants. Which are just weird. They're all irrational numbers, right? They're, they're strange, but they're there. They're,

Yucca: those numbers. Yeah,

Mark: yeah, they're demonstrably real, you know? So e and pi all, you know, all of those I, which of course is impossible. You know, and all of these can be used to describe actual stuff happening in the universe, and it's just glorious.

Yucca: it is. And we come back to that tree. is gonna come in a slightly different direction,

Mark: Oh, right,

Yucca: that tree is doing some pretty amazing things that until recently we didn't really give credit to plants to be doing. So that tree has roots that goes down into the ground and what it's doing up above. Cuz it's photosynthesizing, right?

It's taking air. And from the air it's taking co2, so carbon dioxide, and it's taking water up from its roots and then it's taking photons, it's taking light coming from our star, and it's making sugars out of that. And oxygen. Now it's not making the atom of oxygen, it's making the molecule, right? Stars make the atom right, but it's sticking them together and make that oxygen that we're breathing and it's gonna use the sugars in its cells.

But one of the things that it does with those sugars that it makes is it makes what we call exudates, basically these sticky liquids that it sends down to its roots and it releases into the soil. And it can make different kinds of exudates depending on what its, let's call them nutritional needs are.

So the, the plant is made outta the same stuff we are. So it's a carbon-based life forms. Of course, it's mostly carbon and oxygen and hydrogen, but it also needs things like calcium and it needs boron and it needs all of these other things. And they're in the ground. These, they're just pieces of the earth.

So the rock, but the plant can't get it from the rock, but who can get it from the rock is microbes. So there are microbes that are really good at getting that, let's say calcium, getting that calcium out of the rock, and then through the food web, getting it into a form that the plant can then take up with its roots.

So if the tree needs calcium, it will release the right exudates to actually breed. And grow the bacteria who can get the nutrients that it needs. So plants figured out farming hundreds of millions of years before we ever existed.

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Yucca: And one of the really cool things that just in the last few years we've been finding out about is something called Rizo.

So, The roots of plants. And we're not just talking about some special plants, we're talking about the whole kingdom here. Not only will they grow the particular populations of bacteria that they want, but they will literally take them into their roots and eat them. They abs, they take them in and literally eat bacteria.

They feed on the bacteria, and some of them they will actually. Like partially eat and then spit back out so that they grow again and they actually move them right because that, that root will continue to grow. And so they'll move them several centimeters or even farther before spitting them, half digested back out, they grow again.

And so they're cultivating, they're ranching and farming bacteria. And so it's a just. That would look out your window at that tree. That's what your tree is doing right now. Not just your tree, but the grass, the flowers, the ivy growing up, your wall. They're all doing that and they're interacting on these on levels that we had no idea, and we are just barely beginning to learn about the incredible interactions with them.

Mark: It's pretty awesome.

Yucca: Yep.

Mark: Pretty, pretty awe inspiring. It really is. And yeah, I mean, The kinds of things that we have discovered. Like when I first learned about complexity science, I read this book, I read, there's a book called Complexity by Mitchell Waldrop, and it's a popular science book. It's, it's really, it's about creation of the Santa Fe Institute,

Yucca: Yeah, I actually read that book as a, so I'm from Santa Fe and in high school well the equivalent was high school. Yeah, I did a, I did a program at the institute and we, we literally read that book,

Mark: Uhhuh.

Yucca: so, yeah.

Mark: Well, that was my introduction to complexity science,

Yucca: Oh,

Mark: and I literally would, you know, read four pages and then skip around the room

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: you know this question about, you know, about emergence and about, you know, scale

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: is so central to the entire story of the universe. It's everywhere. It's in everything. And asking those fundamental questions about, well, why, you know, why, why, when you put these disparate elements together, why when you combine two gases, does it create a liquid? What's up with that? The, the, the property of emergence itself is one of those things that just makes me awe-inspired. You know, why?

Why stars?

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: You know, why, why are there these accumulations that, that cause transformation where suddenly you've got this gathering that gravity has been pulling together of dust and gas, and then all of a sudden at this one transformational moment, Kapow, you've got a star.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: It's asking those kinds of cosmological questions that I just find just thrilling.

Yucca: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

And again, in whatever direction Right. It, you know, we've been talking about our particular interests, but I mean, there's just, it's just any, anywhere you look, any direction,

Mark: sure. Zombie ants that are colonized by particular molds. Right.

Yucca: Yeah. The cor decept.

Mark: yeah.

Yucca: And ants, speaking of emergence, that's where a lot of the research has been done is with ants and how the ant colonies work and how they end up with their behavior as super organisms where they're, it's made of lots of little individuals and yet they have personalities. A whole colony has its own personality that grows and changes over time, which studying helps us better understand.

Humans on that way too, because we're each individuals. But if you look at communities and communities on different scales, but also communities on the scale of like countries where the, the countries will have their personalities that they're this made up from just these smaller parts and we're just following these, you know, simple rules that then translates into this emergent behavior and it's.

I mean, it's fascinating and something, again, we're just barely, barely starting to even grasp that that's there,

Mark: Right, right.

Yucca: so,

Mark: Yeah. So look around. You know, there's so much to be just wowed by and, and the, the next step in that process in my experience is gratitude. I am, so, I. Thrilled to be able to be taking this ride and appreciating all this incredible stuff that's happening, to be a part of this universe that's just amazing.

Just amazing. At every level, at every scale, it's doing stuff that's just like, oh my God, how, how, how, how is that happening?

Yucca: Right, and just for the briefest tiniest moment, we get to be a piece of the universe that gets to think about itself. That gets to see itself and experience itself as a conscious being, but it's just a moment. It's a blink of an eye,

Mark: Yeah. What good fortune a

Yucca: right?

Mark: what? Incredible luck. You know, when you consider the odds. The, the astronomical odds against any one of us, you know, particularly having arisen through collision of genetics and, you know, the, the experiences that happen to us through our lives. There, there will, there will never be another one of you.

There has never been one of you, and it's miraculous.

Yucca: Yeah, and every single thing that happened before in every one of your ancestors, it had to happen exactly the way it did for you to even exist. And just, there isn't a word to describe how unlikely our existences.

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Yucca: Right. Astronomical is not a big enough word.

Mark: no, it's not.

Yucca: It's just, you know, in my house we've been talking a lot about grandma, grandmother Luca recently.

Right. And how so Luca is the last universal common ancestor and about how life has never stopped between each of us and her.

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Yucca: Or it, or whoever they were, right? That we're going back at least 4 billion years of choices. Now there's been, it's split off, right? There's lots of things, places where it stops, right?

But in order for you to exist, it hasn't stopped that whole time,

Mark: Right. Your ancestors all the way back to microbes never died before they could reproduce.

Yucca: Before. Yeah.

Mark: They never did. All the way back. Billions of years,

Yucca: life didn't stop between you and because you didn't, you didn't, you weren't magically just suddenly alive when you weren't before you rewind to the times all the cells that made you, you rewind to that back. They were a single cell inside of your mother. And rewind her cells back and you keep going.

That cell, that life has just been there the whole time. Now it started at some point and think, trying to think about that. Wow.

Mark: trying to figure out exactly how that is. Although there's behavior that we can see in long chain molecules and modeling that we can see through things like the Game of Life, which give us some tantalizing hints about how that all could have worked,

Yucca: Right.

Mark: but we haven't been able to replicate it, and maybe we never will.

It's entirely possible.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: Or maybe we will, and that will raise a whole bunch of new ethical questions for sure.

Yucca: My goodness. Yes.

I am hoping and also not hoping that we get to, speaking of Europa earlier. And just saying you're Oprah. Cause it's the closest of them. There's a whole bunch of other ones that we could go to too, but it's a lot easier to get to Jupiter than it is to get to Saturn or Neptune. Right.

But, you know, I'm hoping, and also not hoping that we get to, in the next couple decades, go down and take a look and see somebody else down there.

Mark: Boy,

Yucca: we do,

Mark: pretty amazing.

Yucca: that's a, that's, that's Pandora's box right there. But, you know, eh, it'd be a incredible,

Mark: Yeah. Well, we have kind of bombarded you with our enthusiastic WOWness about, about the universe.

Yucca: Which any of these topics could be their own podcast and themselves.

Mark: Sure. They, they could be their own podcast series in and of themselves, you know, any of these topics because they're gigantic topics and we're only skipping over the, the, the top high points of them. But, you know, one of the, one of the worst things I think that. Our mainstream culture does is discount the value of appreciating these sorts of things. Oh, well that's just a sunset happens every day.

Yucca: There's a limited number of sunsets that will ever happen.

Mark: that's right. And there's certainly a limited number of sunsets for us.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: We're only gonna get a certain number of them, so it might make more sense for us to go out and go, oh, how beautiful.

Yucca: And you also don't know how many you get.

Mark: Yeah. You don't.

Yucca: Hopefully you get a lot more, hopefully you have thousands and thousands to come, but you might just have the one. Right. And that's another one of those just amazing things about, about being alive, about be about being

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Yucca: just existing at all. Yeah.

Mark: Yeah. we could go on forever,

Yucca: Well, we couldn't,

Mark: I think but I, well, we could go on until we died,

Yucca: Yes.

Mark: but I think we should probably stop and maybe save some of that time and energy for other things.

Yucca: Sounds good. Thank you so much. This was a lot of fun.

Mark: It was, it

Yucca: you everyone for being here with us. So.

Mark: We'll see you next week.

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The Wonder Podcast द्वारा प्रदान की गई सामग्री. एपिसोड, ग्राफिक्स और पॉडकास्ट विवरण सहित सभी पॉडकास्ट सामग्री The Wonder Podcast या उनके पॉडकास्ट प्लेटफ़ॉर्म पार्टनर द्वारा सीधे अपलोड और प्रदान की जाती है। यदि आपको लगता है कि कोई आपकी अनुमति के बिना आपके कॉपीराइट किए गए कार्य का उपयोग कर रहा है, तो आप यहां बताई गई प्रक्रिया का पालन कर सकते हैं https://hi.player.fm/legal

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S4E19 TRANSCRIPT:----more----

Yucca: Welcome back to the Wonder Science-based Paganism. I'm your host, Yucca,

Mark: and I'm Mark.

Yucca: and today we're gonna talk about wonder. So that's what we're about, right? We're about, this is the wonder. So we're gonna explore the idea of wonder, and then we're also gonna talk about a few things that inspire that in us as well.

Mark: Things that make us go Wow.

Yucca: Yep.

Mark: Yeah. The. The reason that I suggested that the name of the podcast be The Wonder is that I think that that is at root, the spiritual motivation, right? That you know to, yes, there's the desire for meaning, there's the desire for a sense of place in the world and purpose in life and all those kinds of things.

But fundamentally, I think. That sense of just being awestruck by the, the fact that we exist, the fact of the universe and the world existing. I just think that's really a core spiritual sentiment and or, or experience. And so a lot of what I focus. My rituals on and, you know, efforts at creating oth, you know, materials to support other people in creating their rituals is about fostering that sense of wonder and awe.

Yucca: Yes. Yeah. And there's. There's so much of it really, it, it, whatever, wherever your interests lie, there's, there's just so much to explore and and it's one of those sensations that's very hard to describe, but it's really feeding in. Its to experience that.

Mark: Yeah. I mean, the more I learn about the world, you know, in, you know, in microcosm or in macrocosm, the more often I wanna say, wow, that's amazing.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: You know, I, I think about, I mean, there's, there's millions of examples, but talk so toxoplasmosis. Let's, let's start there. Okay. This is a virus that is communica that cats get, and it's also communicable to humans and to other mammals.

Toxoplasmosis controls your brain when it goes into rodents. They get careless, they get bolder and braver and And more fool, hearty. And that works perfectly for cats, right?

Yucca: Yes, it works out right.

Mark: so now cats have toxoplasmosis, right? And cats that have toxoplasmosis are friendlier. They are more apt to be domesticated.

So then they move in with the humans, and the humans by contact with the cat's. Feces can get toxoplasmosis, and one of the things that it makes them really want to do is to feed the cats.

Yucca: Yes.

Mark: So, I mean, literally all of this stuff is scientifically demonstrated. All of this is this little tiny virus, which is, you know, just a little string of genetic information.

And all of this stuff is true and it, you look at this and just go, my God, how is this possible?

Yucca: Mm-hmm. And it's, and it's all over. Right? I know that that's something that is regularly tested for. If you're, if you're pregnant, they test, they go, oh, do you have a cat? Okay, let's test you for that.

Mark: Yeah. Yeah.

Yucca: yeah, and I don't know if there are, what health implications there are for that other than it does have some impact on personality, right.

For people as well. That it makes them more like that they. Their relation to ship to risk is a little, just like with the mice, is a little bit different than it might be if you didn't have the infection.

Mark: Yeah, and it makes them a little bit more agreeable as well, just a little bit more amenable to going along with whatever somebody else suggests which is just a hell of a thing. You know, we, we think we have free will. We think that we are piloting our ourselves through our lives, and here comes this little bug and it actually distorts our decision making process.

Yucca: Well, it challenges the, the idea of who self is. There's a lot of things today that do that, that really have us look at what is me really,

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Yucca: Right. What, and especially when we start getting into the realm of, of the microbiome and where do we start drawing the line between my microbiome and my cells?

Which ones are me, which ones aren't? Are we saying we distinguishing between d n a? What about mitochondria? All of that stuff starts to we're starting to find that the lines between all of that are a lot more blurry than we used to think.

Mark: Right e each of us is a, a functioning interpenetrated ecosystem. One emergent property of which is this thing called consciousness. But that is that because it is an emergent property of a body, which is an interpenetrated ecosystem is heavily influenced by what's going on in that ecosystem. And some of that is human, d n a and some of it's not. In fact, more of it is not than is.

Yucca: So let's, let's, before we can, there's a whole bunch of different things we can discuss, but let's come back to the idea of wonder a little bit before going into some of the specifics of things that that feel, that evoke that sense in us. One of the things that we were talking about when we were coming up with what topics we wanted to discuss was the idea that, that some people have that wonder has to also include ignorance that you can only have wonder if you are ignorant about it.

And that's something that I wanna say that I don't agree with.

Mark: Me

Yucca: think that wonder often has a, has humility as part of it. That's certainly for me, is often a sense when I look at the night sky. There's this, I'm just overwhelmed with the awe and the wonder of all of it and the knowledge that I know very, very little about it, but I also know a lot about it.

Right. That's my, that's my field. I know a lot about that little red dot right there that we call Mars. Right. For me only makes it more awe-inspiring because there's even more, the, the knowledge of all of that is part of that awe, but also the recognition that there is a lot that I don't know.

But it doesn't have to be. Awe isn't just what I don't understand. There's awe at what I do understand as well.

Mark: Right. Yeah. When we were talking about this, I was mentioning that a, apparently there's some academic who has written that naturalistic paganism is somehow. Either faulty or not real in some sense. Because the awe that happens when you don't, the awe that comes from mystery is somehow has a cache that the awe that comes from knowledge doesn't.

And I really disagree as you do Yucca. When I'm standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon. I can be awestruck by what a gigantic big hole that is. But the fact that I know that it's billions of years of accumulated layers of sedimentary rock that I'm looking at, that just changes everything.

Understanding that the slow uplift of the Kibab plateau allowed the Colorado River to carve that amazing, magnificent earth temple. Is that really blows my socks off. So, so, you know, in the same way that I'm, you know, filled with wonder by a, a beautiful rainbow, even though I understand how refraction works

Yucca: And then you get to be awed by that

Mark: yes,

Yucca: and then thinking, and then it leads to, wait a second, our eyes perceive those particular colors. Why is that right? And tracing all of that back and we're back to, you know, jellyfish. We'll come back to jellyfish in a while. Yeah.

Mark: Yeah. So, you know, what I find is that scientists who. Truly embrace the scientific mindset. And there are many scientists who don't. There are many scientists who are, they're either ego involved with their findings or they're just very, very narrowly focused and you know, are very invested in being emotionally dispassionate.

But, but the scientists that I know that are truly filled with that, that humble curiosity. Just to, you know, I just want to find out how does this work? Einstein was one, Fineman was one. Hawking was one. Carl Sagan was one. You know, these are people that are, you know, elated at, at what they know about the universe.

Filled to the brim with joy about. About what they know and about what they can observe. Because they're looking with informed eyes, not, not just looking at something and go, wow. Going, wow, that's very cool. And it's mysterious. I don't know what it is.

Yucca: Yeah.

You know, last episode you'd mentioned the pale blue dot.

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Yucca: From Sagan. Right. And that's one that often comes up for me thinking about with the awe, just seeing, you know, just that one image you can think of, that particular image. Which by the way, the new Horizons. Which is the craft that went to Pluto and is currently exploring the, the Kuiper Belt is in its second extended mission.

And one of the things that they are currently investigating whether they can do, is seeing if they can turn it around and look back because the camera that they have aboard new Horizons is first of all, far farther out. But it. Much more advanced camera being something that was launched in the two thousands rather than something launched back in the seventies.

And so fingers crossed that we might have another image looking back from even farther at the moment. It's currently studying the ice giants from the other side, which we'd never done before. So, but, but coming back to the, to the original one that. Just looking at that image that it is something big that we're looking at.

Right. But we had, we've used the examples already of thinking about awe in terms of the Grand Canyon or the night sky, but there's also awe in that tiny dot, right? It is huge because we're looking at an entire planet, but we're also just looking at a, what looks like just a moat of dust and that, and awe doesn't have a.

A limit to size. Right. A is not only in the giant, in the huge A is also in the tiny and the quiet, and it just at any angle that you're looking or listening at, there's just that, I mean, I just don't even have the words to say it because it's such an experiential thing.

Mark: Well in the, in the contemplation of scale itself. Right. Even just contemplating the nature of scale, you know, we know so much about the subatomic world now, right? We, we, we know quite a bit about, you know, the realities that are happening down at the quantum level, and here we are. I. You know where microorganisms are.

Incomprehensibly small to us. Our own cells are incomprehensibly small to us. You know, we have dust mites living in our furniture and we have eyelash mites living in our eyelashes,

Yucca: Those delight me. I love those so much.

Mark: me too. I think they're so cool. So, you know, the tiny goes all the way down and the big goes all the way up.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: And that in and of itself is awe inspiring, that the universe is so intricate, so, so amazingly finely, finely defined that it has all those different layers of scale and that it has since the Big Bang. You know, from the very beginning, from the Big Bang, we started out with little, tiny, tiny, tiny proto particles and. Things have been snapping together into increasingly complex emergent phenomena ever since. If we didn't know anything about physics, if we didn't know anything about evolution, if we didn't know anything about cosmology, we couldn't appreciate any of that, and it is awesome.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: It's just awesome.

Yucca: One of my favorite things that I do with my students is I have a four minute video that is of the scale of the universe, and we start at a plunk length and we go all the way up to this, the observable universe. And it's just you're zooming out, right? And you're just going out, you know, each time it's 10 times larger.

And yeah, I start by asking them, okay, everybody, I wanna get a vote. Do you think humans. Are, do you think humans are big or humans are small, right? Are we big? Are we huge or are we tiny? And I get a vote from everybody, right? And mark that down. And then we, we watch this video and it takes about two minutes to get to humans where you can see humans from going from the smallest theoretical size, and it still takes a while to get to the smallest confirmed size, but just watching their faces.

As we're going out and them going, wait, what? What? And then we start getting up into the bigger scales and the bigger scales, and we're getting all the way up to galaxies and super clusters, and then we're up to the observable universe, which probably there's way more universe, but there's a limit to how much we can see.

Right?

Mark: Right.

Yucca: And then asking them next. Okay. Does anyone wanna change their vote? And the quality of their voice is different after watching this video. Right? And you're just seeing them for the first time go, wow, wow. There's nothing like that. And of course, almost all of them change their vote at the end to both, right?

Is yes, we are unbelievably huge. And then, but we are tiny.

Mark: But we're minuscule. Yeah. Yeah. That's great. That's, that's a super great lesson for, for science students.

Yucca: I think for any, I mean, these are specifically for my science students, but I, you know, in any, I think that's a great one. In, in any field, right? Whether somebody's going into science or not. Just a perspective on the world.

Mark: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And So, you know, one of the things that I've said about atheopagan is that it's the spirituality of the verifiably real.

Yucca: Hmm.

Mark: You know, there's, there's, it's possible, theoretically not consistent with any scientific theory, but con contextually it's possible that there are gods, right.

We don't have any evidence that would lead one to conclude that, but you know, we can imagine that that might be true, right?

Yucca: Sure.

Mark: Irrelevant to me

Yucca: Maybe me too. That's the thing I was gonna say, I don't really care if

Mark: if there's so little evidence for it. There is so much here that I am just knocked out by, and it gives me so much of a sense of meaning and joy and, and appreciation that I don't need to extend to stuff that requires me to suspend my disbelief in order to, in order to embrace it.

I just, I don't need to go there.

Yucca: Right. Well, why don't we talk about a few of the things that that recently have given us. That sense of, of wow. And also I wanna put in a, an overlapping feeling as well as that delight, right? I think that delight and wonder aren't necessarily the same, but for me, they often come together,

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Yucca: right? So a couple of the ones I wanna talk about are just ones that I just find delightful as well as awe-inspiring. But do you wanna start?

Or,

Mark: why don't you start while I'm figuring out what I'm gonna do

Yucca: sure. Well, we, we've been on the space one for a while. So there's, I have some non-space stuff as well, but there's, I. A, a paper that I read recently, and actually it was by the PI of the mission. We just talked about New horizons. So Alan Stern and he's talking about I wows.

So I Wows are internal water, ocean worlds. So these are planets like, Europa, like Pluto and Celis, it turns out that oceans are really, really common in our solar system and presumably beyond our solar system, right? And so what we are seeing is that we've probably got these worlds that have water, liquid water inside with thick crusts of rock or ice on top. And we've never been able to go down into any of these oceans. There's not yet. I mean, maybe one day. But. There's a lot of conditions in these places that we think would really be good for life. For instance, with Europa, we think that there's probably hydrothermal vents at the bottom of those oceans that there's, you know, that's probably saltwater organic compounds, all the things that we would need for Earthlike life.

And so in this particular paper, which I think is gonna end up being one of those papers that people look back on like Dyson's paper about trying to find extra solar civilizations and things like that. But what he pointed out in this is that these eye wows are much better places for civilizations to evolve.

Than worlds like our own, which are ews, external Water, ocean Worlds, because worlds like Earth we're subject to how cranky our star is being. Right? It depends on how close or how far away from we are from our star. Asteroid impacts, right? That's how to pretty big impact, so to say on the ecology over the years.

So, Civilizations now and again, we don't know if anybody else is out there. We suspect there's, you know, trillions upon trillions of planets. That's a lot of opportunity for there to be civilizations, but that these worlds would be more likely than Ewos to develop civilizations. Now, if that was the case, this is the part that makes me just delighted to think about if there are civilizations, they would be very unlikely to know that stars existed.

Because their world would be under 60 kilometers or hundreds of kilometers of ice. And eventually maybe, maybe they might drill through that and go up to the surface and find out that something's there. But they wouldn't necessarily have the same drive that we've had to go explore the stars because we see them, right?

We see the stars right there. Now. It's harder to get off of our planet than we'd be to get off of one of those planets. Assuming that we're talking about eye wows that are. Smaller planets, right? Like, like Europa is the gravity's much, much lower there.

Mark: but you have to get through those kilometers of ice or rock

Yucca: oh yes. And bring all your water with you. I mean, we gotta bring our air with us too. But if you're from that, you're gonna have to bring your water. You're unlikely to be using the same sort of light. They probably wouldn't see what the part of the electromagnetic spectrum we do. Also, if they're there and they are using radio, which would be very odd for them to have figured out radio if they didn't have.

Other type of using visible light, but that probably wouldn't leak through the ice, so we might not even know they're there. So it just delights me to think that the universe might be, we might be the weird, weird aliens that live on the surface of planets in the harsh light of a star where everybody else out there is, you know, swimming around and, you know, they're the occupy people, right. So that delights me.

Mark: Very cool. We've talked about this before, but if you haven't, go see the movie Europa Report.

Yucca: Yes.

Mark: was, it was made on like a shoestring budget. It was made for like $8,000 or something. Some insanely low amount, and it is a fantastic science

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: really worth seeing.

Yucca: Also before we do, I just wanna make a comment real quick. Some of you might have noticed my usage of the term planet that is consistent in planetary science. We do not use the IAU definition that is never been used, actually used in any science. So referring to. Bodies like Europa, Pluto, ENCE, all of that as planets is consistent with the scientific usage of the term.

So just if anyone caught that, that is that's how we use it in the field. So, yeah.

Mark: Yeah. That it is, that's all inspiring. You know, the idea that these self-contained worlds could be, and of course what that, what that does is it begs the question well, okay, is our universe a bubble of something that's in a matrix of something larger?

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: It's seen seems that that's the way that reality works.

Could the Big Bang have been an extrusion of force space into, you know, further dimensions that have other stuff in them that, that's going on?

Yucca: One of my. Personal favorites is Black Hole Cosmology, which of course is still outside of the actual realm of science because it's not something that's falsifiable at this point. But it's a very popular idea among cosmologists is that inside each black hole is a new universe. So the Big Bang is basically a white hole from the black hole of another universe.

And inside of each of our black holes is another universe that just keeps. You know, creating more and more and more universes. That one makes me really happy.

Mark: Yeah. And there, once again, you see the, the magic of fractals, right? That same repeating pattern happening over and over again with every iteration, slightly different. None of them, none of them identical, but repeating in patterns over and over and over again.

Yucca: Slight difference between each universe, that actually allows for natural selection.

Mark: yes.

Yucca: Because if you have universes which are more likely to make black holes, then they're more likely to pass on their slight differences. But again, we don't know. This is, we're just playing with ideas at this point.

Right. This is, we don't have any evidence to support this, but it's, but they're fun ideas.

Mark: and they're fun ideas that can inspire awe and wonder just through being somewhat scientifically informed. Right. That's all I wonder that you can't access if you're not somewhat scientifically informed because you don't, you don't understand the concepts. So once again, this idea that things need to be capital M mystery in order to be awe-inspiring is just, it's just not right.

I don't understand where that person's coming from at all.

Yucca: Well they do them. We'll be over here talking about Wonder and new research and all that.

Mark: and having joyous and happy lives and building community and making the world a better place.

Yucca: Sounds pretty good. Count me in.

Mark: sounds, sounds okay to me. I'm, you know, that, that's, that's worthy use of my time. So what was I had a couple of examples, but you know, I'm looking out the window right now and I'm just watching tree branches blowing in wind.

Yucca: Hmm.

Mark: And understanding that there is a mathematical language that can describe that,

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: one of those leaves has a friction coefficient. And it has a particular springiness of its stem and of the branch that it grows from, and the wind is turbulent and it shears through all those different surfaces and it causes very specific kinds of motions, none of which are ever exactly the same.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: Time, but all of which can be somewhat predicted. You can, you can predict that it's gonna go back and forth in some kind of way. And I mean, in the, in the einsteinian sense. What that means is that chaos mathematics is the language of God, It's not in a, not in a literal deic being kind of sense, but that the, the, the universe has a mathematical language that will describe it,

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: and that I just find stunning. Just stunning

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: and, and, and particularly the constants. Which are just weird. They're all irrational numbers, right? They're, they're strange, but they're there. They're,

Yucca: those numbers. Yeah,

Mark: yeah, they're demonstrably real, you know? So e and pi all, you know, all of those I, which of course is impossible. You know, and all of these can be used to describe actual stuff happening in the universe, and it's just glorious.

Yucca: it is. And we come back to that tree. is gonna come in a slightly different direction,

Mark: Oh, right,

Yucca: that tree is doing some pretty amazing things that until recently we didn't really give credit to plants to be doing. So that tree has roots that goes down into the ground and what it's doing up above. Cuz it's photosynthesizing, right?

It's taking air. And from the air it's taking co2, so carbon dioxide, and it's taking water up from its roots and then it's taking photons, it's taking light coming from our star, and it's making sugars out of that. And oxygen. Now it's not making the atom of oxygen, it's making the molecule, right? Stars make the atom right, but it's sticking them together and make that oxygen that we're breathing and it's gonna use the sugars in its cells.

But one of the things that it does with those sugars that it makes is it makes what we call exudates, basically these sticky liquids that it sends down to its roots and it releases into the soil. And it can make different kinds of exudates depending on what its, let's call them nutritional needs are.

So the, the plant is made outta the same stuff we are. So it's a carbon-based life forms. Of course, it's mostly carbon and oxygen and hydrogen, but it also needs things like calcium and it needs boron and it needs all of these other things. And they're in the ground. These, they're just pieces of the earth.

So the rock, but the plant can't get it from the rock, but who can get it from the rock is microbes. So there are microbes that are really good at getting that, let's say calcium, getting that calcium out of the rock, and then through the food web, getting it into a form that the plant can then take up with its roots.

So if the tree needs calcium, it will release the right exudates to actually breed. And grow the bacteria who can get the nutrients that it needs. So plants figured out farming hundreds of millions of years before we ever existed.

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Yucca: And one of the really cool things that just in the last few years we've been finding out about is something called Rizo.

So, The roots of plants. And we're not just talking about some special plants, we're talking about the whole kingdom here. Not only will they grow the particular populations of bacteria that they want, but they will literally take them into their roots and eat them. They abs, they take them in and literally eat bacteria.

They feed on the bacteria, and some of them they will actually. Like partially eat and then spit back out so that they grow again and they actually move them right because that, that root will continue to grow. And so they'll move them several centimeters or even farther before spitting them, half digested back out, they grow again.

And so they're cultivating, they're ranching and farming bacteria. And so it's a just. That would look out your window at that tree. That's what your tree is doing right now. Not just your tree, but the grass, the flowers, the ivy growing up, your wall. They're all doing that and they're interacting on these on levels that we had no idea, and we are just barely beginning to learn about the incredible interactions with them.

Mark: It's pretty awesome.

Yucca: Yep.

Mark: Pretty, pretty awe inspiring. It really is. And yeah, I mean, The kinds of things that we have discovered. Like when I first learned about complexity science, I read this book, I read, there's a book called Complexity by Mitchell Waldrop, and it's a popular science book. It's, it's really, it's about creation of the Santa Fe Institute,

Yucca: Yeah, I actually read that book as a, so I'm from Santa Fe and in high school well the equivalent was high school. Yeah, I did a, I did a program at the institute and we, we literally read that book,

Mark: Uhhuh.

Yucca: so, yeah.

Mark: Well, that was my introduction to complexity science,

Yucca: Oh,

Mark: and I literally would, you know, read four pages and then skip around the room

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: you know this question about, you know, about emergence and about, you know, scale

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: is so central to the entire story of the universe. It's everywhere. It's in everything. And asking those fundamental questions about, well, why, you know, why, why, when you put these disparate elements together, why when you combine two gases, does it create a liquid? What's up with that? The, the, the property of emergence itself is one of those things that just makes me awe-inspired. You know, why?

Why stars?

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: You know, why, why are there these accumulations that, that cause transformation where suddenly you've got this gathering that gravity has been pulling together of dust and gas, and then all of a sudden at this one transformational moment, Kapow, you've got a star.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: It's asking those kinds of cosmological questions that I just find just thrilling.

Yucca: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

And again, in whatever direction Right. It, you know, we've been talking about our particular interests, but I mean, there's just, it's just any, anywhere you look, any direction,

Mark: sure. Zombie ants that are colonized by particular molds. Right.

Yucca: Yeah. The cor decept.

Mark: yeah.

Yucca: And ants, speaking of emergence, that's where a lot of the research has been done is with ants and how the ant colonies work and how they end up with their behavior as super organisms where they're, it's made of lots of little individuals and yet they have personalities. A whole colony has its own personality that grows and changes over time, which studying helps us better understand.

Humans on that way too, because we're each individuals. But if you look at communities and communities on different scales, but also communities on the scale of like countries where the, the countries will have their personalities that they're this made up from just these smaller parts and we're just following these, you know, simple rules that then translates into this emergent behavior and it's.

I mean, it's fascinating and something, again, we're just barely, barely starting to even grasp that that's there,

Mark: Right, right.

Yucca: so,

Mark: Yeah. So look around. You know, there's so much to be just wowed by and, and the, the next step in that process in my experience is gratitude. I am, so, I. Thrilled to be able to be taking this ride and appreciating all this incredible stuff that's happening, to be a part of this universe that's just amazing.

Just amazing. At every level, at every scale, it's doing stuff that's just like, oh my God, how, how, how, how is that happening?

Yucca: Right, and just for the briefest tiniest moment, we get to be a piece of the universe that gets to think about itself. That gets to see itself and experience itself as a conscious being, but it's just a moment. It's a blink of an eye,

Mark: Yeah. What good fortune a

Yucca: right?

Mark: what? Incredible luck. You know, when you consider the odds. The, the astronomical odds against any one of us, you know, particularly having arisen through collision of genetics and, you know, the, the experiences that happen to us through our lives. There, there will, there will never be another one of you.

There has never been one of you, and it's miraculous.

Yucca: Yeah, and every single thing that happened before in every one of your ancestors, it had to happen exactly the way it did for you to even exist. And just, there isn't a word to describe how unlikely our existences.

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Yucca: Right. Astronomical is not a big enough word.

Mark: no, it's not.

Yucca: It's just, you know, in my house we've been talking a lot about grandma, grandmother Luca recently.

Right. And how so Luca is the last universal common ancestor and about how life has never stopped between each of us and her.

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Yucca: Or it, or whoever they were, right? That we're going back at least 4 billion years of choices. Now there's been, it's split off, right? There's lots of things, places where it stops, right?

But in order for you to exist, it hasn't stopped that whole time,

Mark: Right. Your ancestors all the way back to microbes never died before they could reproduce.

Yucca: Before. Yeah.

Mark: They never did. All the way back. Billions of years,

Yucca: life didn't stop between you and because you didn't, you didn't, you weren't magically just suddenly alive when you weren't before you rewind to the times all the cells that made you, you rewind to that back. They were a single cell inside of your mother. And rewind her cells back and you keep going.

That cell, that life has just been there the whole time. Now it started at some point and think, trying to think about that. Wow.

Mark: trying to figure out exactly how that is. Although there's behavior that we can see in long chain molecules and modeling that we can see through things like the Game of Life, which give us some tantalizing hints about how that all could have worked,

Yucca: Right.

Mark: but we haven't been able to replicate it, and maybe we never will.

It's entirely possible.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: Or maybe we will, and that will raise a whole bunch of new ethical questions for sure.

Yucca: My goodness. Yes.

I am hoping and also not hoping that we get to, speaking of Europa earlier. And just saying you're Oprah. Cause it's the closest of them. There's a whole bunch of other ones that we could go to too, but it's a lot easier to get to Jupiter than it is to get to Saturn or Neptune. Right.

But, you know, I'm hoping, and also not hoping that we get to, in the next couple decades, go down and take a look and see somebody else down there.

Mark: Boy,

Yucca: we do,

Mark: pretty amazing.

Yucca: that's a, that's, that's Pandora's box right there. But, you know, eh, it'd be a incredible,

Mark: Yeah. Well, we have kind of bombarded you with our enthusiastic WOWness about, about the universe.

Yucca: Which any of these topics could be their own podcast and themselves.

Mark: Sure. They, they could be their own podcast series in and of themselves, you know, any of these topics because they're gigantic topics and we're only skipping over the, the, the top high points of them. But, you know, one of the, one of the worst things I think that. Our mainstream culture does is discount the value of appreciating these sorts of things. Oh, well that's just a sunset happens every day.

Yucca: There's a limited number of sunsets that will ever happen.

Mark: that's right. And there's certainly a limited number of sunsets for us.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: We're only gonna get a certain number of them, so it might make more sense for us to go out and go, oh, how beautiful.

Yucca: And you also don't know how many you get.

Mark: Yeah. You don't.

Yucca: Hopefully you get a lot more, hopefully you have thousands and thousands to come, but you might just have the one. Right. And that's another one of those just amazing things about, about being alive, about be about being

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Yucca: just existing at all. Yeah.

Mark: Yeah. we could go on forever,

Yucca: Well, we couldn't,

Mark: I think but I, well, we could go on until we died,

Yucca: Yes.

Mark: but I think we should probably stop and maybe save some of that time and energy for other things.

Yucca: Sounds good. Thank you so much. This was a lot of fun.

Mark: It was, it

Yucca: you everyone for being here with us. So.

Mark: We'll see you next week.

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