Darkness and Light


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What is “Dark Matter?”
No one’s ever been able to catch any
in a quart canning jar, as we did as kids
in the summer nights with lightening bugs.

As nearly as my math-less writer’s brain can tell,
it is the power of something unseen, deduced only
by observed gravitational effects on stars, on galaxies.

Something very big, but still a guess, in other words.
Subject to experimentation. Grants. Scholarly papers.

Astrophysicists say this is important, which may be true;
I also suspect sometimes they’ve been smoking weed up
there on the high, cold mountain outside the
telescope house, huddled around campfires,
telling math jokes and giggling, high as fuck.

Continue reading “Darkness and Light”

After IKKYU: Number 30


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by Jim Harrison

It’s difficult to imagine the conversations
between Jesus and Buddha this very moment
These androgynous blood brothers demand our imagination.
They could ask Shakespeare and Mozart to write words
and music, and perhaps a dozen others, but they’ve done so.
The vast asteroid on its way toward LA goes unmentioned.

____________

in “The Shape of the Journey,” 1998. Copper Canyon Press

5 Billion Years of Solitude*


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Are we alone in the Universe?
After 5 billion years of solitude,
Are we really alone?
For the first time in human history we are getting the non-religious answer:

Nope. We can’t be.

Here’s the math:

  • 100 billion planets in the Milky Way (conservatively speaking; it is probably four times that)
  • Of that, astronomers estimate 50 billion would be rocky worlds in some way similar to Earth (or four times that)
  • 1/10th of 1% of these = 50 million that might be water worlds (or four times… oh, you get the idea)
  • Too much? Ok, cut it to 1/100 of 1% of 50 billion. That’s still a whopping 5 million

Five million Earths.

Maybe more. Maybe a lot more.

So, no. We’re not alone.

I’m just afraid of one thing: That we’re maybe the galaxy’s cockroaches, and the 5 million of our neighbors are one giant Orkin fleet with really big flyswatters.

________________________________________________________

I’ve been reading science fiction since I was in the 5th grade, and have been a total space geek.  I read this book a while ago, but since then there have been some radical discoveries with Keppler that have changed things. A lot.

It’s now very plausible, if not highly probable– no, it’s definite–that there are a Kirk-load of planets very much like Earth.

This means there must be others. Like us, or very, very, very different. But others. Bet you (one of you) $5.

But why does that not make me feel good? I do not feel good. And I watched ET and everything.

177076375 Billion Years of Solitude,
By Lee Billings