Monday Opinion: The Speed Of Light

Somewhere last week I read that there may be a particle that moves faster than the speed of light.  Be assured that I did not read this in some well regarded physics journal-this was in the news.  I am not a scientist-I am a gardener, an afficianado of the natural world.  I do not have a PhD in biology, chemistry, physics, horticulture, geology, medicine, nutrition, medicine, anthropology, soil science, marine biology, architecture, entomology, design, astronomy, engineering-you get the idea.  I am a person who designs and plants, and am delighted with that process. But back to the speed of light.   I learned enough in high school and college physics to understand that a whole body of knowledge revolving around Einstein’s theory of relativity has resulted in a theory of the universe that I accept as the truth.  I not only believe that nothing else travels faster than the speed of light, I think it is the truth.

What happens when new information throws what I believe to be the truth out like so much trash?  I make every effort to never approach that moment.  By this I mean I treat most everything I hear or read as either a statement of the moment, or an opinion.  There are very few absolute truths, or absolutely right ways to do things. I believe in a lot of things.  That does not necessarily make them true.       

  I do have lots of opinions.  What plants I like the best.  What soil composition I think is the best.  How best I think deciduous shrubs and roses should be pruned.  How container plants should be planted, watered, staked and groomed.  I have opinions about what is beautiful and striking.  I have opinions about level ground, private spaces, driveway design, trees of note, hard surfaces, property ownership, screening.  All of my writings are about my opinion-not in any way about the truth.  Determining the facts takes a lot of time, effort and thought.  You can take 100 facts relevant to any topic-do they all mesh into one coherent statement one could take as the truth?  Not usually.  After all the facts are in, there still may be no truth to be had.  My Mom was a scientist.  For all her love of science, and the scientific process, she believed that a scientific understanding the nature of life could never be achieved.  That the only truth one could count on is that that life is a miracle.   

Moving towards the truth takes more time than my lifetime will be long.  If that researcher who found a particle that moves faster than the speed of light is correct, then what I have believed to be true about the universe for some 60 odd years means is just plain wrong.  This is not an unusual predicament-new information comes to light all the time.  Some issues circumvent any discussion of the truth;  gardeners have lots of ideas about what works best.  A lot of methods work.  Every gardening situation is specific to a place, an environment, and a gardener.  By this I mean that every gardener should trust their own experience.  Looking for a new take on your old issue-read; study up.  My essays are about what works and doesn’t work-for me.  How other people choose to garden is their own privilege, and business.  I have a good friend and client who planted an extensive vegetable garden under an ancient oak.  Did I try to dissuade him of this?  No.  I wouldn’t have planted a vegetable garden there.  But that said, I am not privy to the truth about vegetable gardening-all I have is my opinion.  What need would there be for me to insist that he think like me?  Not incidentally, it was amazing how much food came out of that garden.  This is but one low key example of how things happen in nature in spite of what I believe to be true. The truth of the matter is up to someone else.   

 The truth of the matter is more about what might be observed in nature, and more rarely about what people say.    If you are interested in a better life for you and your garden, read extensively, and garden even more.  Consider there may be a particle that moves faster than the speed of light whenever you think you have gardening down pat.  What truly moves faster than the speed of light-your ability to put your own good sense to use.    What moves faster than the speed of life?  Nothing.

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