The infinitely bewildering question — How far does outer space go? — got a brief mention in the newest book by popular astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. Yet, despite the encouraging title, To Infinity and Beyond, the explanation presented by coauthors Tyson and Lindsey Nyx Walker was about as satisfying as a rice cake.
Tracking musings on this existential mystery for the past several decades has taught me to check my expectations by the table of contents and index. And to proceed armed with two qualifiers: 1) The human mind is incapable of comprehending, let alone answering this GOAT cosmic question, and 2) The average human couldn’t care less about the above question. Or for that matter to be bothered to look skyward and give the “infiniteness” of farthest outer space a second thought.
In their 319-page tome, Tyson and Walker offer a half-page nod to the subject under the heading “To the Edge.”
“… we might ask what lies beyond the edge of the observable universe. In other words, where does Everything end?”
I admit, that tease piqued my interest.
“As far as we can deduce, what lies beyond the edge of the observable universe is more universe — no different from what we already see and know.”
And just that fast, my interest deflated, like a week-old helium birthday balloon. Less enthusiastically, I read on.
“The total universe may be trillions of light-years across or perhaps infinite. What about the edge of even that? Beyond the edge of all edges, the uncharted territory of our cosmic map, we just don’t know. We cannot know.”
Yipes. Do such “great humblings,” the phrase the authors use to describe cosmic undiscoveries, justify the book’s impressive title? Although this is hardly the first or even hundredth time similarly bold titles by equally accomplished experts left me unfulfilled.
HOW HUMBLE SKY STACKS UP
By comparison, in my new 66-page fiction, Humble Sky, the entire storyline follows one individual’s lifelong quest to resolve this greatest of all unknowns. The point is, I believe, the pretense, let alone realities of such an extraordinary search deserves more time and space. Moreover, beyond the subjects of infinity and our universe, it seems we give far too little consideration to the magical virtues of curiosity, imagination and humility.
Praise for Humble Sky:
“The characters are beautifully written, and the story unfolds with great wit and pathos.” — Hollywood executive
“This is a wonderfully thought-provoking, sobering tale that offers plenty of space for interpretation.” — editor, aging/healthcare publications
“Humble Sky is head spinning … so much creative information.” — university professor
“Such an engaging story. I savored every page, from the beginning to the end.” elementary school teacher