The Meaning of Everything

The Meaning of Everything

William Huang & Amanda Zhu

I can tell you the meaning of everything

At a slow, contemplative pace, against the bustling flow of students leaving school, Edward walked towards his chemistry classroom. Being of quiet and shy nature, he preferred inventing strange scenarios about the things around him rather than interacting with the living scenario he was experiencing. A persistent question came up to him in his scenarios, and he made his way past the horde of students to ask his chemistry teacher, Mr. Jeck, for a satisfying resolution.

Upon seeing Edward, Mr. Jeck greeted him warmly. After a momentary pause, Edward proceeded to tell him he had a question.

“Ask away, Edward.”

Edward said there was some background information he would like to provide for Mr. Jeck. In the beginning of his thought experiment, he pondered about how loud things were in space. His physics teacher last year had told him that since sound required a medium such as air to propagate, in a vacuum such as space with no medium, there was no sound to be heard. Edward was perplexed, because surely there was no such thing as a vacuum. Although it may seem like the sky is transparent and empty, it is in fact filled with the air that all animals breathe in. The space could not be there just to hold absolutely nothing. Nothing was just something scientists could not observe yet. Why is it that his physics teacher, never having touched or experienced space, was so sure that nothing could be heard in it, so sure that that space served no purpose except to exist? Edward reached the conclusion that most scientists, having learned only an infinitesimal fraction of a universe’s worth of knowledge, were full of themselves. Not as a slight to Mr. Jeck, he added, just of beginners who have mastered the basics but think they know a whole world’s worth of knowledge.

Then, he began wondering whether or not other “scientific” theories were based off of similar biases. One such theory was the theory that the universe was expanding. Apparently, scientists observed that most galaxies were receding from the Milky Way, thus space itself had to be stretching. How could they jump to that conclusion so quickly? Why would space itself, filled with “nothing,” continue to expand and make more space for nothing? Scientists used big numbers and mathematical equations as a substitute for the purpose, the true meaning of the universe. Perhaps that was why most scientists could not answer his question.

“So . . . what is your question?” said Mr. Jeck, perplexed.

“Humans have been asking for eternity whether or not there is a purpose to everything. Is there a purpose?”

“Of course, everything has a purpose.”

“Are you sure?”

Edward went on to explain his theory that everyone was really in fact the same person. Although each person comes from a different economic status, different culture, and different childhoods, perhaps the human being experiencing these phenomena are the same. There are people who escape generational poverty, those who achieve extreme monetary success, and minds that invent new, breakthrough technologies no matter the generation. Ideologies such as racism, sexism, and discrimination appear time and time again, perhaps because the human soul, deep down, is attracted to those philosophies. But equally likely is the fact that each person was the same person, being tempted over and over again by similar temptations.

He extended this theory to history. World War One was immediately followed by World War Two. Perhaps both Napoleon and Hitler invaded Russia in the coldest of winter simply history must repeat itself. Perhaps the assassination of Kennedy had to follow the assassination of Lincoln. Perhaps the coronavirus outbreak had to occur, just like the bubonic plague ravaged Europe in the 1300s. In fact, this phenomenon was quite common: “those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it” is a common phrase quoted by history teachers. But maybe, instead of history “repeating” itself, what if history is itself, over and over again?

He found that even at different scales, each system was congruent to itself. Inside an atom, electrons exist in clouds, orbiting the positively charged nucleus. In the solar system, Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars orbit the Sun at varying intervals. An individual cell has to manage its resources by taking in useful food and water and excreting wastes, just like entire villages and communities of people have to import goods and dispose of trash. If one zooms in real close at one particular area, or zooms out to take in the broader picture, the picture is the same.

In summary, at each scale of the universe, looking at it in any part of time, the universe is the same. Each observer looking at it, each human observing it, is the same. Everything is the same. Nothing is unique or special in any way.

“If I’m understanding your theory correctly,” Mr. Jeck chimed in, “No thing that has existed or will exist is unique. Hmm, so what might be the purpose of such monotony?”

“What if there is no purpose? What if everything is just one big, fat joke?”