Patience, young grasshopper’ said the wise Kung fu master, famously, to the Karate Kid. It was all about becoming alert to signs of change. The right signs.  And when something is beginning to sour in a culture, within a group, within a business, it becomes even more crucial to pick up early on any warning signs.

At a simple every-day level, some common non-rational behaviours can point to something shifting downwards on the general satisfaction curve.  You might have experienced a couple of them.

Eat. There may be noticeably more bun/ cake / biscuit activity. Truly.
Pray. Or rather, grumpy swearing. The incidence of ‘for gods/ goodness sake’ (often accompanied by rolling eyes) goes up. Truly.

Long before articulate, rational complaints begin to surface, there will be signs. The trick is to notice, to see an emerging pattern.

It’s not easy.

We all constantly over-estimate the significance of rational conscious data, and under-estimate the significance of data that we cannot quite define or verify.

Kung fu thinking? No, just the way the world is

Dark Matter was a twentieth century discovery. A Horizon enquiry into Dark Matter  called ‘How Big Is The Universe’ begins to paint the picture of just how little data about our surroundings we are able to perceive rationally.

It may seem hard to credit (especially those of us with unresolved control issues), but dark matter, which is impossible to detect with current instrumentation, may be constitute up to a quarter of the visible universe. Dark energy may constitute 70%.

The percentage of our universe that we can perceive and measure? It may be only 5%.

So instinct, sensing, just somehow feeling that something is shifting suddenly becomes as sound a basis from which to call for help as any designed and quantifiable survey data.

Hurry up with those biscuits.


Penny Hunt and Change Chemistry logo imageI think it was Slartibartfast who said ‘I’d much rather be happy than right any day’.

Today we shall be both.  I am bubbling with rightness and happiness.

Thank you Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, for a discovery that brings such pleasure.  And for a tangential Bill Nighy (as Slartibartfast) picture cue.

Bill Nighy as Slartibartfast

Savour the words. ‘Ripples in space and time’.

Didn’t you always somehow ‘know’ they must exist? We were right.

So Douglas Adams fans, Einstein experts, coffee lovers and those interested in the growth and development of brilliant people everywhere can warm their hands together around the glow from the latest chapter in the book of Big Bang discoveries.  (I am in all of those groups except the Einstein one.  I would like to be in that one too, one day)

Coffee is central to the expansion of the universeFirstly, the coffee lovers.  The New York Times uses coffee to explain the central finding of cosmic inflation.
Yep. Coffee and Cosmic Inflation. (Try ordering an espresso now with a straight face. With a light sabre on the side perhaps.)

The mystery has been a beautiful one. A universe created in a single exuberance: yet so vast that it appears impossible for matter flung so widely to appear so similar in temperature.  How can this be?  Exactly as if some cosmic coffee pot had filled cups ludicrously far apart yet ensured none were hotter or colder than others. The ‘Bicep2’ team can now offer an answer: instantaneous expansion – cosmic inflation – that could fling the coffee everywhere instantaneously, in slivers of time immeasurably minuscule, where ‘trillionths of seconds’ would be frankly langorous. The trails of proof are the newly detected ‘primordial gravitational waves’, ripples in space and time. Exactly as Einstein said there would be.

To the growth and development people – the arena in which I operate with ‘Change Chemistry’ – there are so many images to enjoy.

  • The metaphor of that cosmic inflation – the feeling of instantaneously taking up more space, of expansion (that happens when an ‘aha’ moment strikes).
  • The metaphor of the hidden suddenly becoming accessible, of something apparently being created out of nothing. Yet it is real, there, and useable – as is personal power and potential.
  • The idea of imagining and describing an event and its implications well, well in advance of any possibility of verifying it. (Thank you Einstein)
  • And of course the idea that all those cups of coffee did indeed come from the same metaphorical coffee pot.

So some thoughts to delight us all:

Say ‘cosmic inflation’ with impunity, and gusto, and as often as possible. It will feel wonderful. If anything goes slightly awry, simply shrug and say knowingly “ Just another little wrinkle in space and time”.

Or come and sit and drink coffee happily in the café at the end of the universe, where in true Adamsian mode I shall be starting to write this long after you’ve read it.