Why Wait for Science

Sarcastic Science, she would like to know,
In her complacent ministry of fear,
How we propose to get away from here
When she has made things so we have to go
Or be wiped out. Will she be asked to show
Us how by rocket we may hope to steer
To some star off there, say, a half light-year
Through temperature of absolute zero?
Why wait for Science to supply the how
When any amateur can tell it now?
The way to go away should be the same
As fifty million years ago we came—
If anyone remembers how that was
I have a theory, but it hardly does.
Robert Frost

 

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THE NON-EUCLIDEAN UNIVERSE

 

A line that looks dead straight can be an arc
like the horizon when you’re out at sea.
True distance is deceptive: in the dark
it can’t be measured. Yes, you made a mark
or two, in fact, but you can barely see.
A line that should be straight becomes an arc,
the path that’s traveled by a welder’s spark
when danger’s just a matter of degree.
Since distance can’t be measured in the dark
most people turn the light on. And the stark
divisions blind them with geometry.
A line that isn’t straight is called an arc—
no! Think outside the box! Perhaps a quark
moves like a knight in chess, a hop-two-three.
(True distance is deceptive.) In the dark
all rules break down completely. What a lark!
The future’s coming at you in 4D.
A line that should be straight looks like an arc.
True distance can deceive you in the dark.

by Anna M. Evans

from Rattle #49, Fall 2015
Tribute to Scientists

The little folk

A wonderful poem about another human species:

The Cheesesellers Wife

Folk tales of little people abound
Retreating to the deep Earth
Now and then to emerge and engage
Ensnare or enslave
With trickery or with passion

Peripatetic you may have been
Leaving small trace of your lives
But deep in an African cave
We have found you
Naledi, little stars

We term the women who reclaimed you to the light
Underground astronauts
Yet you carried your beloved dead here
Through narrow clefts, over parlous depths
To lay them tenderly down to rest

As we stare into our deep past
And find you, Homo naledi
Those of us who wonder
Those of us who marvel
Are ensnared and enamoured

Copyright © 2017 Kim Whysall-Hammond

The discovery of fossils of a new human species  (Homo Naledi) is, in itself, a fascinating story. But why they are so ‘cool’ is very well explained by our fellow blogger on Fossil History at https://fossilhistory.wordpress.com/2015/09/10/homo-naledi-why-these-fossils-are-so-friggen-cool/

 

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Radcliffe Science Library poetry competition 2016

The Radcliffe Science Library ran a poetry competition in  2016, and the wonderful winning poems are availaibe for download at:

https://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/science/about/poetry-competition-2016

Please go and discover!

Trinity

On July 16, 1945 the world witnessed the first atomic bomb test at the White Sands Proving Ground  in New Mexico. The test was codenamed Trinity and was part of the Manhattan Project. The lead physicist was  Robert Oppenheimer and he named the atomic test “Trinity” in a conflicted homage to John Donne’s poem, “Holy Sonnet XIV: Batter My Heart, Three-Personed God”:

Batter my heart, three-personed God; for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurped town, to another due,
Labor to admit you, but O, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
but is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betrothed unto your enemy.
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again;
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor even chaste, except you ravish me.

Rock

There is stone in me that knows stone,
Substance of rock that remembers the unending unending
Simplicity of rest
While scorching suns and ice ages
Pass over rock-face swiftly as days.
In the longest time of all come the rock’s  changes,
Slowest of all rhythms, the pulsations
That raise from the planet’s core the mountain ranges
And weather them down to sand on the sea floor.

Remains in me record of rock’s duration.
My ephemeral substance was still in the veins
of the earth from the beginning,
Patient for its release, not questioning
When, when will come the flowering, the flowing,
The pulsing, the awakening, the taking wing,
The long longed-for night of the bridegroom’s coming.

There is stone in me that knows stone,
Whose sole state is stasis
While the slow cycle of he stars whirls a world of rock
Through light-years where in nightmare I fall crying
“Must I travel fathomless distance for ever and ever?”
All that is in me of the rock, replies
“For ever, if it must be: be, and be still;
endure.

by Kathleen Raine

Poem: Supernova

Great poem about a Supernova. Enjoy……

Universalist Seeds

She said stars
blooming
for a brief moment

Until the petals fall

scatter
the seeds of carbon
hydrogen and oxygen

which in five billion years
bound by sunlight
will become the sugar
in the crisp stalks breaking
in the teeth of aliens

hands moving spasmodically
as she talked, shaping

losing her flesh
in the carbon dioxide she exhaled
and the nitrogen in her urine
and in the vibrations she made
in the air

bursting
into flower

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