While Newton seemed to draw off the veil from some of the mysteries of nature, he showed at the same time the imperfections of the mechanical philosophy, so agreeable to the natural vanity and curiosity of men; and thereby restored her ultimate secrets to that obscurity, in which they ever did and ever will remain.

In the beginning, there was physics. “Physics” describes how matter, energy, space, and time behave and interact with one another. The interplay of these characters in our cosmic drama underlies all biological and chemical phenomena. Hence everything fundamental and familiar to us earthlings begins with, and rests upon, the laws of physics. When we apply these laws to astronomical settings, we deal with physics writ large, which we call astrophysics.

There is a philosophy that says that if something is unobservable — unobservable in principle — it is not part of science. If there is no way to falsify or confirm a hypothesis, it belongs to the realm of metaphysical speculation, together with astrology and spiritualism. By that standard, most of the universe has no scientific reality — it’s just a figment of our imaginations.

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