Monthly Archives: May 2015

NASA

After the New Year I sent this letter to NASA:

Hi NASA.

So, I just read this blog post:
http://kottke.org/15/02/current-paradoxes-in-cosmology

Which took me to this blog post:
https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/the-paradoxes-that-threaten-to-tear-modern-cosmology-apart-d334a7fcfdb6

They describe this paradox:

“What’s more, there is an energy associated with any given volume of the universe. If that volume increases, the inescapable conclusion is that this energy must increase as well. And yet physicists generally think that energy creation is forbidden.”

Here’s my Question: Why does increased VOLUME necessarily mean increased ENERGY when that VOLUME is a vacuum. Can’t the energy and matter just be spreading across the universe through a vacuum without altering total ENERGY?  Like marbles across a floor?

Thank you,
Chad

A few weeks later NASA replied thus:

The answer is that it is the energy density that is constant, so as the volume increases, there must be more energy. The constant energy density seems to be an observed feature of the Universe – that is, it is needed to explain the observed expansion in a simple way compatible with General Relativity. Here is a more detailed explanation:
http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2013/11/16/why-does-dark-energy-make-the-universe-accelerate/

You might also enjoy reading a related post:
http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2010/02/22/energy-is-not-conserved/

Here is a good site for anyone interested in astronomy:
http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html

Brian and Jeff
for Ask an Astrophysicist

Editorial. I’m still unsure what’s going on. I need to find me an astrophysicist in the flesh.

2 Comments

Filed under Ephemeron

Ellen Bass

Reincarnation
by Ellen Bass

Who would believe in reincarnation
if she thought she would return as
an oyster? Eagles and wolves
are popular. Even domesticated cats
have their appeal. It’s not terribly distressing
to imagine being Missy, nibbling
kibble and lounging on the windowsill.
But I doubt the toothsome oyster has ever
been the totem of any shaman
fanning the Motherpeace Tarot
or smudging with sage.
Yet perhaps we could do worse
than aspire to be a plump bivalve. Humbly,
the oyster persists in filtering
seawater and fashioning the daily
irritations into lustre.
Dash a dot of Tabasco, pair it
with a dry Martini, not only
will this tender button inspire
an erotic fire in tuxedoed men
and women whose shoulders gleam
in candlelight, this hermit praying
in its rocky cave, this anchorite of iron,
calcium, and protein, is practically
a molluskan saint. Revered and sacrificed,
body and salty liquor of the soul,
the oyster is devoured, surrendering
all—again and again—for love.

January 19, 2015, The New Yorker

Leave a comment

Filed under Poems

Marylen Grigas

About Muscle
by Marylen Grigas

If there’s no need for movement, then no need for a brain, I’ve learned,
a fact demonstrated by the sea squirt, a small creature that swims
freely in its youth until it settles on a rock. Then it devours its own brain.
And spinal cord. It simply doesn’t require them any longer.
(God, don’t let me settle.) Need for movement leads to need for muscle.
The brain evolves in order to plan and execute reaching, grasping,
turning, according to the expert on Charlie Rose, which I watch
on my iPad while walking on the treadmill to rebuild my strength.
Plenty of species thrive without brains, he says. It could be different
on another planet, I suppose, but here evolution of the brain is about muscle.
Just ask Arnold Schwarzenegger or an evolutionary biologist.
Yet the brainless sea squirt still gets upset, still squirts.
Maybe it’s innate, like a horse’s hide shuddering to dislodge a fly.
Maybe that’s why I started moving and arranging boulders last fall.
I thought I was making a terrace. But afterward it looked more like a grave.

September 1, 2014, The New Yorker

Leave a comment

Filed under Poems

Franz Wright

Nativity
by Franz Wright

At the conclusion of nine months’
silent communion,
interrupted on occasion
by long one-sided conversations
of a teary and somewhat excessively candid nature,
and after some very loud mutual screaming,
the two were at last introduced. A shadow
as of vast wings passed across them,
in a manner of speaking: he slept, the
small bud of face unclenched. Later on,
still drowsing, he was relatively certain
he had at some point overheard her claim
that while nursing he never stopped staring
into her eyes, which was fair enough; but
when she added that she felt like she was being judged,
right away he sensed things getting out of hand.
That night he lay awake pondering
the matter for many hours, compelled at last
to find her accusation jejune, massively
unsubstantiated, unwitnessed by anyone
but the accuser, pathetically, and tinged with paranoia—
not a trait, incidentally, you are happy to see
in the person with whom you’ll be sharing the next couple
   decades.
I have done no such thing, he concluded.
In addition, while she remained perfectly free
to fall in line with the mores and laws handed down
by the sheep who exist, his own adamant intent was
to go on waiting for word from his god, who did not.
“And,” he muttered irritably, “I want a harmonica.”

December 17, 2012, The New Yorker

Leave a comment

Filed under Poems

Laura Knight

The Yorkshire Coast (1929)
Poster Print

M29027-2488 001

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Reed Whittemore

Clamming
by Reed Whittemore

I go digging for clams every two or three years
Just to keep my hand in (I usually cut it),
And whenever I do so I tell the same story: how,
At the age of four,
I was trapped by the tide as I clammed a vanishing sandbar.
It’s really no story at all, but I keep telling it
(Seldom adding the end, the commonplace rescue).
It serves my small lust to be thought of as someone who’s lived.

I’ve a war, too, to fall back on, and some years of flying,
As well as a staggering quota of drunken parties,
A wife and children; but somehow the clamming thing
Gives me an image of me that soothes my psyche
As none of the louder events—me helpless,
Alone with my sand pail,
As fate in the form of soupy Long Island Sound
Comes stalking me.

My youngest son is that age now.
He’s spoiled. He’s been sickly.
He’s handsome and bright, affectionate and demanding.
I think of the tides when I look at him.
I’d have him alone and seagirt, poor little boy.

The self, what a brute it is. It wants, wants.
It will not let go of its even most fictional grandeur,
But must grope, grope down in the muck of its past
For some little squirting life and bring it up tenderly
To the lo and behold of death, that it may weep
And pass on the weeping, keep it all going.

          Son, when you clam,
Watch out for the tides and take care of yourself,
Yet no great care,
Lest you care too much and talk too much of the caring
And bore your best friends and inhibit your children and sicken
At last into opera on somebody’s sandbar.
               When you clam, Son,
Clam.

August 28, 1965, The New Yorker

Leave a comment

Filed under Poems