in deep space,
immense as a brain
through the thought-
shaft it drifts, a wale
of light to
which the retina
opens and is centered
appearing as the mind
to a soundless
where, permanent as
a whorl of light
rides, wheeling in darkness
by Richard Ryan
Once upon a time, way back in the infinitesimal
First fraction of a second attending our creation,
A tiny drop containing all of it, all energy
And all its guises, burst upon the scene,
Exploding out of nothing into everything
Virtually instantaneously, the way our thoughts
Leap eagerly to occupy the abhorrent void.
Once, say ten or twenty billion years ago,
In Planck time, in no time at all, the veil
Available to our perceptions was flung out
Over space at such a rate the mere imagination
Cannot keep up, so rapidly the speed of light
Lags miraculously behind, producing a series
Of incongruities that has led our curiosity,
Like Ariadne’s thread, through the dim labyrinth
Of our conclusions to the place of our beginning.
In Planck time, everything that is was spread so thin
That all distance is enormous, between each star,
Between subatomic particles, so that we are composed
Almost entirely of emptiness, so that what separates
This world, bright ball floating in its midnight blue,
From the irrefutable logic of no world at all
Has no more substance than the traveler’s dream,
So that nothing can be said for certain except
That sometime, call it Planck time, it will all just
Disappear, a parlor trick, a rabbit in its hat,
Will all go up in a flash of light, abracadabra,
An idea that isn’t being had anymore.
Come out and talk to me
for then I know
into what you are shaping.
Thinking is no more,
I read your thoughts for a symbol:
a movement towards an act.
I give up on thought
as I see your mind
leading into a mystery
deepening about you.
What are you trying to discover
beyond the zone of habit
and enforced convention?
There is the animus
that spends itself on images,
the most complex being
convention and habit.
You shall form patterns
of research and bind yourself
to laws within your knowledge,
and always conscious of your limitations
with patience to instruct you
as it always does
in your research: an arrangement
spanning an abyss of time,
and you will find yourself patient
when you are questioned.
by David Ignatow
by Anna M. Evans
from Rattle #49, Fall 2015
Tribute to Scientists
Just where that star above
Shines with a cold, dispassionate smile —
If in the flesh I’d travel there,
How many, many a mile!
If this, my soul, should be
Unprisoned from its earthly bond,
Time could not count its markless flight
Beyond that star, beyond!
–From Lyrics of life and love / by William Stanley Braithwaite [electronic text]
Braithwaite, William Stanley, 1878-1962.
Courtesy of the University of Michigan Humanities Text Initiative American Verse Project.
Einstein was the first who stated,
He was the first who dared:
Mass and energy are related,
By E = mc2.
When Isaac Newton wrote The Laws that we all quote,
It’s now extremely apparent that he
Neglected to consider — Relativity.
What focused our attention on the fourth dimension?
We’d been doing so well with just three:
‘Twas Mr. Einstein’s brainchild — Relativity.
Now who would think, and who’d forecast,
That bodies shrink, when they go fast.
It makes old Isaac’s theory
So then if you are near when atom bombs appear,
And you’re reduced to a pile of debris,
You’ll know it’s largely due to — Relativity.
Yes, you can place the blame on — Relativity.
These lyrics were published in Physics Today, July 2005, p. 59.