Written on 12 July 2012
I’ve been interested in anything to do with space and space travel from a very early age. During the 1940s there was little material available but in April 1950, when I was a 14-year old Paper Boy in Harehills, Leeds, my newsagent showed me a preview copy of the full-colour Eagle Comic and a few days later I was able to buy the very first proper issue when it went on public sale. The first issue apparently sold 900,000 copies and my newsagent ran out of his meagre ration before 9am on the morning of issue. Sadly, I didn’t keep my copy and that’s a great pity because pristine copies are now worth a lot of money.
Comics were never the same again. All of a sudden boys all over the UK were talking about Dan Dare and the green, evil Mekons from Venus (and lots of other exciting stories as well). It seemed entirely plausible that one or more of the Earth’s planets really could be inhabited by creatures vaguely resembling humans. We could not possibly have guessed how knowledge of our Universe would change in the next few decades.
Nevertheless, I kept up my interest and that led to an embarrassing moment one evening 25 years after the first edition of Eagle when I was invited to dinner at my Station Commander’s house at RAF Marham. After an excellent meal and fortified by wine and post-prandial brandies, I found myself expounding, at some length, my theories about black holes to one of the other guests. He was a stranger to me, but he appeared to be listening with great interest to what I had to say. Eventually the Station Commander appeared at my side and said, “I see you’ve met my brother, Tony. Did he tell you he’s one of the country’s leading authorities on black holes?”
Only this morning I read an article in my morning newspaper about a theory of multiple universes (multiverses) popping into existence out of black holes. In order to explain how our own universe sprang into life in an instant, this newish theory postulates that there could be multiple universes created, and possibly still being created, in big bangs engineered by human-like scientists. If I understood the article correctly, it all has something to do with machines not unlike the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which, as Wikipedia puts it, “is the world’s largest and highest-energy particle accelerator that is expected to address the most fundamental questions of physics, advancing our understanding of the deepest laws of nature.” However, it seems we will never know whether our own universe was created that way, nor will anyone who creates a new universe in that manner know whether or not he succeeded in creating one. What’s more, the theory still doesn’t explain where all the space came from to accommodate all these multiverses. It’s a bit of a disappointment really.
I think I had better stop there! I didn’t fully understand the reasoning behind this theory of multiverses, and I wouldn’t want to put wrong information around – my former Station Commander’s brother might be reading this! As a matter of fact, I don’t know any more about black holes than I did in 1975. These theories are all very interesting – but they’re not as exciting as the exploits of Dan Dare “Pilot of the Future”.