Two or three nights ago, the following thoughts came to me while I was dreaming:
We are composed of the component parts of stars that have died, and all the energy we use in order to stay alive comes to us from light (usually light that has been converted to glucose and then modified to produce adenosine triphosphate). In other words, we are stardust and it is a star (in our case, the sun) that keep us alive. This reminded me of Peter Wohlleben’s observation that when a tree is cut down, the children and peers of that tree will sometimes keep the stump alive for a hundred years or more by sending it food through the fungal network connecting their roots. We are like the stumps of stars, kept alive by other stars that continue to feed us. Regardless of what you make of that, we are, quite literally, children of light.
The domain of light is also the domain of electromagnetism. Everything from the light waves we see to the sound waves we hear to the shape molecules take to the amount of radiation that reaches the surface of the earth to the transfer of electrons in the Calvin-Benson Cycle, takes place because of electromagnetism. In fact, of the four fundamental forces (so-called because, as far as scientists can tell, they exist all the time, everywhere), both the strong and weak nuclear forces increasingly seem to be elements of electromagnetism. The only remaining fundamental force – gravity – seems to be very different and it is the inability of bring electromagnetism and gravity together that continues to prevent the formulation of a super theory of everything.
But then my dream self thought the following:
If all of life as we know it is the product of light, what if there were forms of life that lived from an energy generated not by light but by darkness? As children of light, we tend to see darkness as a void –as the absence of light – but what if darkness itself is a pleroma—an overflowing full of the presence of something we are not equipped to sense or identify? If that were the case, then isn’t it possible that black holes, rather than being bottomless pits, are simply dark stars? Of course, from the perspective of creatures of light, they appear to consume everything that we know of and that we associate with the light—but from the perspective of the darkness, wouldn’t our stars look the same? From the perspective of the dark, doesn’t the sun look like a hole devouring everything associate with darkness? This caused me to pause and wonder more about the possibility of a shadow biome.
Yet if such a biome exists, if the darkness is a fullness rather than an emptiness, how could creatures of light possibly know that or make contact with that? This is where gravity re-enters the picture. It is gravity that reveals to us the presence of dark matter within the universe. We can only explain the movements of the stars if we posit large quantities of matter that we cannot detect– we can only detect the influence of that matter on other things (and so we posit the existence of dark matter, not because we can access it but because it explains movements that otherwise make no sense to us). So for creatures of light, electromagnetism explains everything but gravity. But gravity reveals dark matter to us. So what if we have been approaching gravity the wrong way?
Generally, gravity is described as an attractive force that exists within matter – that is to say, objects with mass are attracted to other objects with mass and the more massive an object, the more it will attract other objects to it. But what if, instead of gravity being a force intrinsic to the matter that we know, gravity is an extrinsic force? What if gravity is a force that is pushing (rather than pulling) massive objects together? What if, in other words, electromagnetism is the force that goes with light matter, and gravity is the force that goes with dark matter? Electromagnetism would be the fundamental force of our world, as we know it and gravity would be the force that reveals that our world, as we know it, is not all that there is. Gravity, from this perspective, would be the way in which that which feeds off of darkness interacts with that which feeds off of light.
And, at this point, I awoke from my dream.