Journey through the universe

Let’s take a journey in a science fiction star ship. Let’s go above the atmosphere, out of the solar system, and above all the galaxies. Now look out on the vast universe and watch suns and stars and systems circling each other in harmonious interaction.

Now dive with me down to the microscopic realm of molecules, atoms, and quantum particles. Again we see swirling interactions without ceasing.

As we return to normal, we see that everything in between these two levels also interact. People talk to each other. Birds fly in the air. Fish swim in the water. Rain falls to the ground. The whole universe can be explained and understood in one word: interaction.

What is interaction?

Inter– between, among, reciprocal, together

Action– do, perform, move

Interaction is movement and/or influence between and among things that then reciprocates back and forth. A affects B and B affects A. Interaction requires at least two items and some kind of force or influence between them.

Interact is act and react. It is things bumping into things. It is objects pushing and pulling other objects. Interaction is people shaking hands and talking to each other, or fighting or competing. It is ideas connecting and relating to each other. From the microscopic to the galactic, in the physical, emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual realms, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that does not influence, or get influenced by, other things. Everything interacts.

From this simple observation we will unpack how the universe works, and then why sometimes it doesn't work. We will find a framework to understand eternity past, present, and future. Like a rainbow exploded from a raindrop, interactions will unfurl themselves into a fractal-like pattern that repeats at all sizes from the microscopic to the galactic, from the personal to the global, from the natural to the supernatural.

The basic concept of interactions will lead us to the motivations of the human heart and the personal patterns upon which they are built. That will then lead us to the really big issues of the universe, but first let's make sure we understand what physical interactions are and how they work.

Physical interactions

In kindergarten terms, a rock appears not to interact, but two colliding rocks are interacting.

Let's look at an example that strips everything down to the bare essentials. Pretend that the universe is empty—completely and absolutely empty. There are no galaxies, stars, planets, dust, atoms, subatomic particles or energy of any kind. There is absolutely nothing in the darkness except two small rocks which are placed at opposite corners billions of light years apart. Now sit, wait, and watch. It will take a long time, but slowly, almost imperceptibly, the rocks will start moving toward each other. Micrometers per year at first, but the acceleration is real. Velocities of miles per hour are reached after many millennia. Speed continues to accumulate as the rocks fall toward each other. After millions of years of interacting at a distance, the mini asteroids crash into each other with velocities of thousands of miles per second.

However, the story does not end there. The exploding particles interact with each other. They bounce off each other and dance with each other through gravity. After millions of more years, the particles will in all likelihood clump together. The bouncing has stopped, but the interacting has not. The pieces are still attracting each other. Their movement happens to be static.

This means that our kindergarten explanation of the single rock not interacting needs to expanded. Yes, it is not interacting with another rock, but all the molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles within the rock are interacting. You could say that the rock is an interaction, or a collection of interactions.

All matter is just congealed energy according to the equation E=mc2. Packets of energy vibrate and wiggle and interact with themselves and each other to provide us with the sensation of "things" and "objects" and "real stuff." It is all just interactions interacting with our senses on a molecular level.

Look! Listen!


Here. There. Anywhere. Everywhere.

Interactions. See them?

Rain falls to the earth.

People shake hands.

Trees take in carbon dioxide.

Their cells transform it to oxygen.

The quarterback throws the ball.

The receiver catches it.

The electron orbits the nucleus.

The planets circle the sun.

Teachers teach. Students learn.

Stuff is sold. Stuff is bought.

Ideas are connected.

Inventions are created.

Lovers kiss.

Children play.

Galaxies spin.

The universe is an interacting system!

The magic of the universe is interaction. Science turns this magic into formulas for us so that we can make better predictions and plans. There is no escaping physical interactions. It is not incorrect to view the whole universe as one giant, complex interaction.

If you still are not convinced, then try to find one thing, living or dead, animate or inanimate, that exists without being affected by something else. Nuclear and quantum forces hold things together at the smallest levels. Electromagnetic waves and cosmic radiation broadcast from one end of the universe to the other. Gravity emanates to and from all particles. Try to find something that exists without affecting or being affected, but you will discover that all things push and pull, ebb and flow, and dance together.

What causes physical interactions?

As you might have already guessed, force and power cause interaction. To grasp a penny, electromagnetic forces between my skin and the copper molecules enable me to feel. Chemical reactions empower my muscles to lift it. When I release it, the penny is attracted to the earth by gravity. When the coin hits the ground, kinetic energy is transformed into acoustical and thermal energy. Forces are like the springs connecting all objects and power is the energy that stretches those springs to start chain reactions of energy transformation.

Like an enormous game of pinball, energy is transmitted and transformed from object to object from one side of the universe to the other. The game never stops. Sometimes a person's choice starts a series of unexpected interactions, but after that the laws of physics take over and transformation after transformation cascade outward to the farthest reaches of the universe. Even after the tossed stone has sunk to the bottom and its ripples are no longer visible, the original energy is still spreading through water, air, and rock.

Physical interactions and their causes have their counterparts in the spiritual realm. We will look at those next.

In your words:

What is interaction? What are some interactions in the water cycle? What are some interactions in the digestive process, circulatory system, and other body systems? What people/tools/objects do you interact with on a regular basis?