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Strictly Speaking



Innovation is an unambiguous and useful word on its own legs. It doesn’t need any crutches. In its simplest definition it means the act of introducing something. It derives from the Latin root word novus, or new. Contemporary double-speak has created the unnecessary redundancy of the “new innovation.” This should produce the same reaction as fingernails dragged across a blackboard.

An innovation can only, by definition, be new. An “old innovation” is an oxymoron, a phrase that contradicts itself. There cannot, logically, be an old newness. Or if so, it is only a as a confusing thought exercise in physics. If, as Stephen Hawking believes, only a completely degenerate, motionless cosmic egg existed prior to the Big Bang, then it was possible to construct it as an entity in space that lacked time. Time and motion are inextricably interconnected. No motion = no time.

This is why even at absolute zero degrees real systems have a zero point vibrational energy, an internal quantum mechanical clock that can tick no more slowly. But since humans are drawn by limited experience to an intuition that may be completely at odds with reality, as in relativity and quantum mechanics, there is a nagging desire to know what the universe was like “before” the Big Bang. Although Hawking has given us an out, for people who cannot stop the conviction that time in continuous and unending, then the Big Bang itself could be the oldest innovation we knew.

For people who don’t think physics, there was some unheard clock ticking away, like a time bomb, awaiting the moment when the universe exploded out of its degenerate seed. That seed was a dense pack of Higgs bosons, which have no spin. Ergo no motion and are, ergo, timeless. All particles subsequent to the Big Bang have the property of spin. They are little clocks set to a fundamental ticking that is inherent and neverending. Through supernovae and other insults, they take a licking and keep on ticking.

But the most objectionable problem with the expression “new innovation” is that it has become obligatory to tribal noise, a conjunction of sounds that, while unnecessarily redundant, nonetheless, has come to pass as transcendent insight. In fact, it is just verbosity inflating at a rate approaching that of the universe itself.

The consolation is that, in the end, dark energy will trump tribal noise, cosmic clocks and the rest.

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