Controversial Bubbles Challenge Origins of Life #poem #poetry #evolution #originoflife

Bubbling Yellowstone mud pot

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble,
Over three billion years ago,
Volcanic heat met water
And something started to grow.

Perhaps deep in the ocean
Or perhaps in springs on land,
Bubbles found in rocks today
Are clues to understand.

by Kate Rauner

Searching for traces of Earth’s earliest life is hard and there are plenty of skeptics, because the signs aren’t bones or shells, but “blobs and knobs and something that they interpret as filaments.” People keep trying because “it would be incredibly exciting to find some sign of something that was living 3.8 billion years ago.”

For more on what that “spongy kind of gloopy soup” may have been, see NPR tiny fossils and

NPR Australian fossils

My apologies for mangling The Bard, but I needed the bubbles. Here’s Macbeth:

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

Copernicus had a Simple Answer to Brightest Star #astronomy #Venus #poem #poetry

Venus over the Pacific – the other bright “star” above and to the left is Jupiter

Brightest star first shining
As the sun goes down
In the orange twilight
To horizon bound.

Lower every evening,
Following the sun,
Abandons us to darkness
When its reign is done

Reborn in the morning
Leading dawn to day,
A star that is a wanderer
Within the solar sway.

By Kate Rauner

Ancients figured out that Venus was the same object in the evening and morning sky – but its motion didn’t really make sense until Copernicus. Through observation, before the invention of the telescope, he realized that

  • The rotation of the Earth accounts for the apparent daily rotation of the stars
  • The apparent annual cycle of movements of the Sun is caused by the Earth revolving around it, and
  • The apparent retrograde motion of the planets is caused by the motion of the Earth we observe from.

Watch Venus’ movements for yourself – the planet is bright enough to observe even under city lights.

Focus on what happens when an icy rock meets the sun #meteor #astronomy #poem #poetry

4 hour time lapse of a meteor shower against the stars

Once a comet passed this way,
Falling in for centuries,
Only to swing away again,
Beyond living memories.

Inward past the planets
Where there are none to see,
From frozen space to solar flame,
Seared and torn by gravity.

Scattered now along its path,
Shattered to debris,
The dusty bits of comet core
Streak over land and sea.
By Kate Rauner

Thanks to space.com and the recent Lyrid Meteor Shower, but many other comets have been shattered into meteors. BTW, a “shower” with one or two meteors a minute is considered pretty intense. So pull up a lounge chair, settle in, and watch the sky.

Who’s Killing Australia’s Platypuses? #Australia #nature #poaching #poetry #poem

Three platypuses in Australia were ‘deliberately killed’ in the last few weeks, and two of the animals were found beheaded in what wildlife officials are calling a ‘horrific act of cruelty.’ time.com

Horrible! In honor of the platypus, I’m reposting an old favorite.

Victorians called her primitive,Platypus-sketch
A mammal under-done,
Chimera of cold austral streams,
Life’s ladder, on a lower rung.
With lizard bones and otter fur
That’s waterproof and soft as silk.
Laying eggs as lizards do,
Then nursing babes on milk.
She hunts her prey in bottom mud
With tactile snout exquisite;
More delicate than human touch,
She senses nerve cells with it.
Life branches out a thousand ways,
Ignores our human urge
For categories neat and trim.
Nature’s on a splurge:
Formed a creature that’s most elegant,
Beauty’s her attraction.
Admire now the platypus,
A honey of adaption.

by Kate Rauner

More science inspired poetry

Faith Meets Death From Forgotten Past to Today #poem #poetry #anthropology #death

Grave Goods

Museum replica of Viking burial inside a ship as coffin

Found in their graves
From ancient times old,
All they possessed
In silver and gold.

Their weapons and tools
And their finest clothes
Would somehow transcend
To follow their souls.

This marks us as human –
Where our bodies lie
The pollen of flowers
Bloomed over goodbyes.

What will you take
With you when you die?
To a hole in the earth
That leads to the sky?

By Kate Rauner

All my books, including collections of my science-inspired poetry, are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and other major online retailers. You’ll also find paperbacks at Create Space and all major digital formats at Smashwords. The second edition of Rhyme and Reason is available now – newly expanded with more poems from physics, biology, learning, and more. Now on Amazon and all your favorite on-line stores.

 There are so many archeological studies of burials it’s hard to pick one, but a recent article inspired this poem. Read about a Neanderthal flower burial – maybe – at wikipedia.org

Focus on a Sign of Spring #Haiku #poem #poetry #insect #spring

First roly poly
Creeps from the thawing compost
A true sign of spring

by Kate Rauner

 

 

 

Pill bugs, roly polies or doodle bugs – much nicer names than woodlouse

Bug images licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Mystery of Dark Matter May Be Explained by Showing It’s Not There #poem #poetry #Physics #gravity

cosmos_3d_dark_matter_map

There is evidence for dark matter. Weak gravitational lensing data from the Hubble Space Telescope imply this distribution of dark matter.

You and I are special
Along with all we view,
Just one in five of all that is
From this stellar clue.

The galaxy of the Milky Way,
Rotating fast, should scatter.
Based on the mass of stars we see
There must be hidden matter.

For decades we’ve accepted
This mystery profound.
It’s central to the notions
That cosmologists expound.

But data’s always coming in
As telescopes get better,
Till movements of the stars
Are described by normal matter.

Perhaps it’s relativity
That we don’t comprehend.
The shape of space and gravity
Were never quantum’s friend.

So what’s the answer when
Disagreement is so keen?
Why, get more data till we know.
God’s subtle but not mean.

by Kate Rauner

Christian Moni-Bidin, an astronomer at the University of Concepción in Chile, and his coauthors have a forthcoming paper in the Astrophysical Journal. Based on the hundreds of stars, all within 13,000 light-years of Earth, visible material explains their motion. Unseen dark matter isn’t needed, at least not this close to Earth.

The next step is to replicate the calculations for millions of stars. If dark matter really doesn’t exists, then gravity is messier than either Newton or Einstein realized.

Thanks to Albert Einstein for the quote in that last line, and to livescience.com for their article.