I went to the term’s last cosmology lecture out of a lingering sense of duty, and the thought that maybe I’d learn something useful about tomorrow’s final. Instead, I was treated to some meaningless ramble (well, there was no math, anyway) about baby universes and vacuum fluctuations. In the middle, the prof stopped to mention that he probably shouldn’t be using the word “somewhere” to describe events outside of established spacetime. I heartily disagree. Physically of course he’s correct, our naive concept of “space” is completely meaningless when you’re talking about jizz from a physicist’s circle jerk. But more generally speaking, we use metaphors of space for all kinds of not-so-spatial things: relationships, family networks, this here Internet (how many of you care where my server is located?), the set of all polynomial functions, etc. There’s probably a good neurological reason for this, and one could use the ideas of evolutionary psychology to explain why. Of course, one can use the ideas of evolutionary psychology to explain anything.

Regardless, I think it’d be an interesting experiment to run around for a day trying not to use any spatial metaphor, at all. I’m not sure I could do it.

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