States of Change is an ongoing work of serial fiction.
"How many stars do you think are up there, Jaspa?"
"Well, the elders say about six thousand in the night sky are visible to the naked eye, but damn it seems more like a million up there tonight."
"Always question the elders. Facts can be mislead even them. The six thousand number is based on being able to see every star visible anywhere on the planet. So I bet we can see two thousand on a moonless night like tonight."
"You want me to punch you, Kannis?"
"If that's the only consequence of improving our mutual understanding of the world, then go for it."
"Argh, somehow you manage to steal the magic out of the moment every time."
"Do I? That's a shame. Isn't it magical to unravel the mysteries in search of new ones? Never mind. My question was more about how many stars are out there period, even the ones we can't see."
"Billions and billions, I bet."
"That's an understatement, but poetic in a way. The hundred billion plus stars in our galaxy is just the tip of the ancient iceberg." or the hundred billion galaxies beyond ours."
"How am I supposed to tell if you're not just bull-shitting me?"
"That's what I read in a book in the archives, but you're right, how do we know it's true. There hasn't been a reliable reference trail since The Inflection Point."
"It is kind of sad, but I guess science was never about proving anything, it was about building trust with shared knowledge. And I guess we've lost that."
"Some say that was the whole point of the Aye Pee, to reduce our confidence in reality, so humanity's exponential expansion could be corrected. to give us a chance as a society to take a breath and reconsider our daily presence in the universe."
"Shut and give me your hand, Yannis. Let's enjoy the night sky"
"Ya know, someone once told me there are more atoms in a single human booger than there are stars in the whole universe."
Forty-two seconds of rolling laughter.
"I have no doubt, no doubt at all."