2015 BTUSFMS #2 – The Insubstantiality of Substance

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June 29, 2015

I was walking through the campus of the University of Minnesota this evening when I saw what looked like a holographic sculpture of a man and a woman facing each other across a courtyard while kneeling in the Zen Seiza position.

I crossed the street to look closer, and as my position changed, so did the perspective. Each metal figure is actually sheets or blades aligned closely together. The effect from the sides is of solid substance; from the front and back, holographic translucence.

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It reminded me that as we walk around this world, we are made up mostly of water. And even that part is mostly air—at the atomic level, the vast percentage of our space is just that—space. Going further within to our most elemental particles, physicists only speak of the physical nature and location of quarks in terms of probability lines. In effect, they wink in and out. Our most fundamental particles are not always here.

Add to that the fact that the solid ground on which we walk is made up of these same insubstantial particles, and that our planet is a small particle in the constantly and rapidly expanding universe, and it seems poignantly ironic that we so often find change so hard to manifest or accept. We become attached to the point of rigid fixation when, in fact, the rhythms are all humming with change.

These sculptures also reminded me that despite our propensity to get locked into our fixed perspectives and lost in the limitations of appearance, we are vast realms living, breathing, and moving among each other. Just imagine what reality could be if we woke up.

Fitting that these sculptures were outside a physics building…

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