Space Song – Home on Lagrange #poem #poetry #science

astrodynamics diagramOh give me a locus
Where the gravitons focus,
Where the three-body problem is solved,
Where the microwaves play
Down at 3 degrees K,
And the cold virus never evolved.

by William S. Higgins and Barry D. Gehm

Thanks to NASA

Expanding Universe Will Leave Us Alone #astronomy #poetry #poem #universe #cosmology

expanding universeThe universe expands
Ever faster as we gaze,
Carries off our cosmic kin
Farther every day.

Light from other galaxies
Won’t have time
to reach our own.
In a few billion years,
Look up! We seem alone.

Kate Rauner

A short poem this week – and late! But I’ve been working a fire with my volunteer fire department, and my dog is sick, so I have excuses. I have had time to think about cosmology.

It’s hard to wrap my head around, but the universe is expanding and accelerating. So the speed of light stays constant, but distances grow. Eventually, other galaxies will be moving away from us so fast that their light can’t reach our own. Of course, human beings won’t exist by then and even our solar system may be gone.

If there are people in that distant future, what will they think of the universe? A Steady State model will explain what they’ll see, so they may never know there was a Big Bang. Perhaps the same thing has happened to us. The early universe may have been different in ways we can’t imagine. We may be missing the full truth, just like our hypothetical future brethren will.

Enceladus What Tell Ya Us? #NASA #poetry #poem #saturn

Enceladus in Saturn’s E-ring

Wrenched by Saturn’s gravity,
By tides within its core,
And radioactive isotopes
Releasing heat galore.

Oceans are revealed,
by geysers
Blasting through the cold.
Cryovolcanism
jets from the southern pole.

A water ocean circulates
Beneath an icy shell
That blocks the solar photons.
Here living things could dwell.

Consider near-bacteria,
Imagine pseudo-fish.
Chemosynthesis
Supporting life like this.

What may have surfed its boiling plumes?
What from the depths might rise?
Earth may have
solar system kin,
On Saturn’s rings, they ride.

I re-worked this poem for a poetry open mic today in Silver City, my wonderful, small, rural, artsy New Mexico town.

Silurian Hypothesis – Industrial Civilization Long Before Us #science #poem #poetry #research #paleontology #civilization

Doctor Who Silurians

Silurians found by Doctor Who. Promotional material to illustrate the subject in question is fair use, or so says Wikipedia.

Deep within our history,
Four hundred million years ago,
One of the greatest dyings cleared
The Earth for them to grow.

Boney fish with moving jaws
Dodged scorpions in the shallow seas,
Hardly social it would seem,
Yet something walked the land near these.

Calcium
carbonate,
Abundant layers, weirdly thick,
In sandstones
do imply
Industry spewed pollution slicks.

Suggestion of dead ocean zones,
Through turbation
sediments,
Imply farming on
a scale vast.
That’s civilization evidence.

Not to mention oddly high
Concentrations to be found
Of antimony, lead, and chrome,
Rare earths, and gold within the ground.

Sudden population booms
Of crinoids and certain trilobites,
Indicator species these,
Increased to
impressive heights.

Shape of lipids well preserved
In geo-chemistry,
Not mono-chiral indicates
They were made
synthetically.

Until the late Devonian,
When life in deep oceans died,
Anoxia that changed the seas
Sent glaciers south to crush their lives.

No, there are no real facts
Silurians
once industrialized,
But to think of traces
they could have left
May help us search the starry skies.

by Kate Rauner

Silurian fossils

Silurian fossils, but, no, that’s not a Silurian coin. It’s just there to indicate size.

Thanks to theatlantic for their story on this study published in the International Journal of Astrobiology: could we tell if an advanced civilization existed on Earth long before humans, even before mammals?

Such conjecture may help us ponder extraterrestrials. As the authors say, While much idle speculation and late night chatter has been devoted to this question, we are unaware of previous serious treatments of the problem of detectability of prior terrestrial industrial civilizations in the geologic past.” Download the pdf for yourself.