National Commentary

The ‘Gravity’ of This Week’s News

nfbenton-mugIt’s been a monumental week in the history of things, but with the focus on the U.S. presidential election, even though it is still eight months away, and other major developments surrounding the nation’s capitol, such as the death of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, I contend that something of quite an otherworldly nature has trumped (not in the Donald sense) them all.

First, some thoughts on the more mundane issues. With the New Hampshire primary, the week marked the emergence of Donald Trump as a dead serious contender for the GOP presidential nomination, and that’s not about to go away.

The question will be whether his support base in his own party can extend beyond about a third of voters, meaning that if the field winnowed down to one other contender, he might remain stuck at 33 percent and thus lose, maybe at the convention. Makes for good theater.

In this context, the week has seen the GOP campaigns engage in the worst desperation move since Sarah Palin was added to their ticket n 2008. Jeb Bush brought on board the most reviled president in U.S. history, at least since John Tyler, and the claim that W. “kept America safe” was the biggest eye-rolling laugh line of the week.

Forget that George W. Bush was president when 9/11 happened. The other heinous transgressions committed on his watch included the groundless, lie-driven invasion of Iraq (how many times did Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld not only claim there were non-existent “weapons of mass destruction,” but said they knew exactly where they were?), the criminally inept response to Hurricane Katrina and the deregulation-driven biggest meltdown of the global financial system since the Great Depression, the damage from which we still live with.

Since we’re on the subject, it was Scalia, who died unexpectedly last weekend, who had more to do with the election of W. in the first place than any other single person in the land. His vote, and moreover his influence, on the Supreme Court in December 2000 to order a stop to counting the ballots in Florida handed the election to W., and just so we never forget, W. had hundreds of thousands fewer popular votes than Al Gore in that election.

W. was reelected in 2004 because the nation was in the midst of his “war,” and because journalist Judith Miller deliberately withheld until after the election her knowledge of Cheney’s scandalous role in the “outing” of a sensitive CIA operation for partisan political purposes.

History is already looking very unkindly on both men, Scalia in his death this week as W. continues to be roasted on a proverbial political pyre.

But beyond this unavoidable review of unsavory recent history, the real big and epochal news of the week was the reported observation by an international team of scientists of space-time warping “gravitational waves” coming from the collision of two black holes more than a billion light years from Planet Earth.

The observation confirms Albert Einstein’s “e=mc2” theory of relativity from a century ago, and augmented by the extraordinary work of astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, who expressed his thrill at the discovery in a BBC TV interview this week.

Billions of light years away, you say. What does that have to do with us, you say?

This writer doesn’t pretend to grasp the math associated with this. But there are amazing and mind-boggling derived truths, including one from a friend who exclaimed it proves something fundamental about the nature of the entire universe.

As we’re part of that universe, it includes us. He put it this way, “It means e=mc2 is operative at every level of the universe, even to the sub-atomic level in, for example, every cell of a human body.”

It means that all the components of reality we’re most familiar with are not linear in their relations – such as space, gravity and time – but dynamic and susceptible to one another.
It may take awhile, but this is eventually going to change everything we know about our universe, including potential applications to the care and feeding of our biosphere and our species.

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