Do eggs contain the secrets of the Universe?

Do eggs contain the secrets of the Universe?Many readers here will be aware of the Hiranyagarba, the Golden Lingham in which the entire universe is enclosed. Here, the BBC explores the nature of the humble egg and asks, Do eggs contain the secrets of the Universe?

Do eggs contain the secrets of the Universe?

This is an egg. But then, you already knew that. You know because eggs have been central to human existence for thousands of years. In fact, you probably take it for granted, after all, it’s only an egg. But if you’re prepared to look closer to see through its calcium carbonate shell you’ll find a microcosm of the universe. Don’t believe me?

Let’s start at the beginning. The very beginning. Several religions, multiple traditions, the Ancient Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Incas all have eggs at the heart of their creation stories. In southern California, the origin story of the Cahuilla people likens the creation of the entire universe to the cracking of an egg. A little further east, the Omaha tribe of Nebraska and Iowa spoke of an egg being dropped into the world’s oceans. Protected by a bird serpent, inside this egg lay sleeping all of the mothers and all of the fathers of everyone yet to be born. But these are stories.

Where’s the science? In 2006, data gathered by Nasa’s Wilkinson satellite suggested that the Universe itself may be an ellipsoid – an oval. Egg shaped. The science community remain unable to categorically prove or disprove this theory but it remains possible we’re all living inside a massive, ever-expanding egg. In 1609, Johannes Kepler confirmed that the planets, including our own, go around the sun, not in a perfect circle but in an elliptical orbit. The moon’s elliptical orbit makes it appear to regularly change size in the night sky. Without this egg-shaped dance our moon may seem far less interesting.

Far from being smooth, an egg’s shell is more like the surface of the moon. Bumpy and grainy in texture, a single eggshell is covered in up to 17,000 tiny craters. But it’s also semi-permeable, allowing air and moisture to pass through it. This remarkable shape, not only is it possibly the shape of the actual universe, it’s also the pinnacle of architectural design. Here is a structure with no internal solid support and yet it’s strong enough to protect and nurture life itself inside.

If one point of the shell is put under external force, the stress is distributed evenly across the entire dome. Which is why you can’t crush an egg with the palm of your hand. But how to replicate nature’s perfect aerodynamic design? An egg has no obvious beginning or end so where do you even start? It wasn’t until the 20th Century that human architects started to get the hang of building egg-like structures on a grand scale. ‘The Egg’ in Beijing seats 5,452 people in three halls and is more than 1,000 square metres in size. That’s one seriously big egg. Imagine the size of the egg cup.

Eggs have inspired artists from Dali to Faberge and made memorable movie cameos Sigourney Weaver’s haunted 12-pack in Ghostbusters, Paul Newman eating 50 in Cool Hand Luke, and John Hurt falling foul of a particularly nasty one in Alien. In Gulliver’s Travels, when the people of Lilliput went to war with their neighbours, it was over which way round to eat a boiled egg. On Instagram, we liked this egg, in greater numbers than we’d liked anything else ever before. Mr Strong ate nothing but eggs, which actually was not a bad idea. An egg’s protein has the perfect mix of amino acids required to build human tissue, second only to our mother’s milk.

Eggs have also whisked their way into our everyday lexicon. I’m not yolking. Let me eggsplain people can be ‘good eggs’ or ‘bad eggs’. If you’re particularly smart an eggspert in your chosen field perhaps you might be called an ‘egghead’. We send our kids on egg hunts. We scramble, we poach, we bake. If you want to make an omelette, we all know what to do. Not knowing how to boil an egg is considered shorthand for someone who can’t cook. And yet, when searching ‘how to boil an egg’, Google will offer up more than a billion results. Perhaps it’s not as simple as we thought. Much like the egg itself.

People have been welcoming spring by decorating eggs with bright colours since the Middle Ages. But John Cadbury didn’t make his first chocolate egg until 1875. Eighty million chocolate eggs are now sold every year in the UK alone. The average child eats eight. At Easter, it seems, the egg will always come first… But then of course, you already knew that.


Do eggs contain the secrets of the Universe?


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