Tobago

Tobago
Horizon at Sandy Point

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

stardust and sunshine

Black holes exist, we are assured by Stephen Hawking and other scientists. They are the result of burned out and collapsed stars, absolute concentrations of star matter with infinite density and gravitational pull from which nothing can escape. You don't see them in the night - or day - sky, can barely detect their radio waves; and might only discern their influence by the wobble or pull on an adjacent star. But - the scientists propose - black holes are the equation that testifies to an origin of all matter, the big bang, and the expanding universe. Furthermore, as we approach a "black hole" - as if we ever could with anything except our mind - we would do so for a very long time, encountering an area called the event horizon which we would forever be approaching in infinitesimal acceleration. Sounds like purgatory! Now, there's a thought for a wild mind.

Humans have known their civilized selves for merely five or ten thousand years. Our own sun, we are told, has shone on a molten earth, a planet inhabited by dinosaurs, and will one day - hundreds of millions of  years hence - burn itself out and collapse inwardly into a black hole. By then, we may all be wiped out, vanished like T rex or woolly mammoth, or have found a way to navigate to other habitable regions in space, or have evolved into beings able to dwell in the event horizon. For the moment, and for this briefest of sparks in infinity and infinite diversity - our consciousness - how should we spend our time? How should we not?

My blog time is running out this morning, so it is a subject that I will come back to. But for today, let's hear Joni Mitchell: "We are stardust... We are golden... let's get ourselves back to the garden!" Let us appreciate what and where we are, and all that stardust can do!  (Image courtesy the Hubble telescope)

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