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Posts Tagged ‘science’

 

 

 

They know that birds see many more colors

than humans can—and they know that

their plumage has become, over millions of years,

more colorful, more dazzling, more bright.

But why, they wonder, can the birds see

colors they do not have in their feathers?

Why haven’t they developed the ability

to produce ultraviolet yellow or ultraviolet red?

 

I know that there is beauty I see in others

that I do not yet see in myself: People

who leave bottles of water in the desert

of west Texas. A 94-year-old man in Iowa

who has given away 6,000 Hershey’s

milk chocolate bars to connect

with the people in his changing hometown.

A 13-year-old girl who has raised $80,000

to save dogs from being euthanized.

A woman who chooses forgiveness.

 

I want to believe that to see is to invite evolution.
I want to believe that through sight, my own heart will develop

the way plumage might, more dazzling, more bright.

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Perhaps one day they will find the way

to take all the empty space out of our atoms—

condense us to our essence. Then

the whole of the human race would fit

inside a sugar cube. It would serve us right,

expansive buggers that we are, we who stamp

our atoms all over the earth, we who now

leave our footprints in space.

Like our electrons, we exist too many

places at once. Or, perhaps one day,

we’ll learn to embrace all that space within us,

and instead of plundering, conquering, developing out,

we’ll go in, travel in, enter grace.

 

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On Earth, just a teaspoon of neutron star

would weigh six billion tons. Six billion tons.

The equivalent weight of how much railway

it would take to get a third of the way to the sun.

It’s the collective weight of every animal

on earth. Times three.

 

Six billion tons sounds impossible

until I consider how it is to swallow grief—

just a teaspoon and one might as well have consumed

a neutron star. How dense it is,

how it carries inside it the memory of collapse.

How difficult it is to move then.

How impossible to believe that anything

could lift that weight.

 

There are many reasons to treat each other

with great tenderness. One is

the sheer miracle that we are here together

on a planet surrounded by dying stars.

One is that we cannot see what

anyone else has swallowed.

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Redefinition

 

 

 

Darling, they’ve redefined the kilogram.

Once it was a thing. A real thing:

a platinum-iridium cylinder

weighing 2.2 pounds. A thing they kept

in France in a high-security vault. A thing

they could compare to other such weights

kept in vaults all around the world.

As if to lock a thing up is to keep it

from changing. Forever.

 

Now we know better.

Every thing changes. It’s the nature

of things. Even prototypes lose atoms,

no matter how sterile the room

in which they’re kept.

The loss may be only the weight

of a single eyelash that no longer

bats itself at time.

Over time, it matters.

 

Now, understanding the volatile nature of things,

they’ve made the kilogram an idea—

a simple truth—by tying its definition

to Planck’s constant. How the world loves

a constant.

 

Darling, know that I am a thing.

I have wanted to be constant,

unwavering, true, but I lose things.

I gain things. I change innumerable

times a day. I am never the same woman

as I was yesterday. Each time we speak,

I swell, I leak. I will always love you

not the same. There is more at work than gravity.

It’s the way the heart is made.

 

I want to make you promises.

Like constancy. Like forever.

I promise that I’ll change.

Like the old kilogram. Like weather.

 

https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/13/world/kilo-measurement-scli-intl/index.html

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Invitation

 

I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.

            —The New Seekers

 

 

The earth, say the scientists,

is more bell than we thought,

imperceptibly ringing beneath

 

our feet. Just because we can’t

hear it doesn’t mean it’s not

being played ceaselessly,

 

an ultralow hum thousands

of times below what the human ear

can hear. And the hum, they say,

 

is everywhere, uniting the globe

in a common tone. Perhaps,

they say, it’s ocean waves

 

that bang on the sea floor

or waves that crash into each other.

Perhaps, they say, the sound

 

goes all the way to the core.

Just because we don’t know why it rings

doesn’t mean we can’t sing along.

 

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2017/12/08/scientists-are-slowly-unlocking-the-secrets-of-the-earths-mysterious-hum/?utm_term=.93f97c1ef02f&wpisrc=nl_rainbow&wpmm=1

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Stubborn is another word for it,
like water beaded on a leaf,
like red wine that clings to the side of a glass,
like milk poured just beyond the volume
of a cup that does not spill, rather
builds itself up. Surface tension, the scientists say,
is the force along a line of unit length, where
the force is parallel to the surface but perpendicular
to the line. But you and I, not trained
to speak of life this way, might call it
cohesion or contraction. Or stubbornness—
resistance to an external force. Like when
the missionaries come to knock. Like when
your lover says you’re wrong. Like how when we
feel the tears rising we hold them in, let them well
in our ducts and then pull them back.
Sometimes I wish I were better
at letting things in. Life resists that.

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Dad takes out the microscope
from a dusty old suitcase
and sets it up on the kitchen table.

Once again I’m six years old
and we are living near the lake
where he takes me out with a net and a vial

to collect the water together.
He shows me how to make a slide,
how to focus the lens, how to steady

my eye and how to be patient
and wait for the tiny world
to reveal itself.

My son and daughter are with us
today, and he takes them out
to the waterway with the net

and the vial and all their curiosity.
I’d forgotten how miraculous it feels
to look into a droplet and find

a universe with slender strands
and tiny spiraled globs of green
and all the unseen critters seen,

their eyeless, mouthless,
heartless forms nudging
at the algal threads or speeding

across and off the slide.
How big the world seems then,
and how very, very small—

how hard it is to know
where we fit into it all—
this world with its car bombs

and militant groups, adventure
movies and evening news,
Jupiter high in the springtime sky

and under the microscope,
single-celled things zooming
and worming and meandering.

Who could make sense of it?
How simple to be one of these
small creatures I can’t name,

how simple it was to be that girl,
six years old, beside her father
on the microscope bench

dropping beads of water
onto the slides, kneeling on her chair,
mesmerized.

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Today I learned what
I knew: if a cell from my
heart met one from yours,
they would find a new rhythm
not yours, not mine, but ours.

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