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, and read an interesting article I can’t find now! Darn internet.

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 so far away their light can’t reach our own. Of course, human beings won’t exist and even our solar system may be gone.

If there were people in that distant future, what would they think of the universe? A Steady State model would explain what they see, so they might 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 know or imagine. We may be missing the full truth, just like our hypothetical future brethren.

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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.

Wormhole’s Shadow Might Be Detectable, Fascinating and Confusing #poem #poetry #physics #wormhole #space

ship thru a wormhole

Wormhole travel, though maybe only for a microscopic ship

Wormholes are hypothetical,
So hypothetically,
They may leave traces in the sky
That telescopes could see.

Where space-time is so warped,
Photons
might trace a ring,
While others falling through the pipe,
Leave dark where light had been.

Not my own reflector
To search for wormhole tubes,
But radio astronomy
Linked across the globe.

Confirming wormholes would confuse
What we know of gravity,
But since that force still puzzles us
They’d mesh abstractedly.

Kate Rauner

Thanks to livescience for pointing out this possibility. For some reason my poetic creativity has been on vacation for a few weeks – hope it’s back now.

Some Mushrooms in the World Drive You Crazy – but insect feasts are the target #poem #poetry #poems #mushroom

Many kinds of mushrooms
Occupy the lands,
Genetics lets a scientist
Distinguish distant aunts.

Perhaps a virus grabbed some genes,
Transferred them here from there.
Horizontal gene transfer
Could explain this share.

‘Cause more than once these fungi
Have made a wild find,
Psilocybin chemicals
That alter human minds.

But that can’t be the reason
‘shrooms would develop this,
They sure don’t care if you or I
Are sent upon a trip.

What good does psilocybin do
For a mushroom fighting rivals?
Suppresses insect appetites!
Ensures its spores’ survival!

Kate Rauner

Since highs are often associated with the munchies in us humans, I thought it was funny that this chemical might suppress appetite in bugs. Thanks to livescience for this hypothesis, and also for an article on the possibility that psilocybin may relieve depression in cancer patients.

Psychoactive mushrooms grow around the world

Psychoactive mushrooms grow around the world

This is Mud Season, one rain quickly changes everything #poem #poetry #season #nature #weather

Nature and science poetry - Kate Rauner

Clouds are prettier than the mud they bring

I grow an inch
with every step.
Clay grips my boots,
clay turned to mud.

The dog whimpers
as I towel his feet.
Between his toes are
balls of mud.

The car slides, slow motion
Across the drive
Till tires grip grass
at the edge of mud.

Some people have spring
summer
fall
And winter.

I have wind
fire
drought
And then the mud.

Kate Rauner

Ah, life in rural mountains of New Mexico. It won’t last. Sigh. When you live in a desert, you really can’t complain about rain.

Update: 5th day with rain! Compared to typical Februaries near Silver City NM USA, this year’s February is wetter than 95% of Februaries (I have 100 years of rain data by month), and the month’s not over!

Shelter in the deepest pines #haiku #poem #poetry #winter

Science and nature in poetry - Kate Rauner

Not going up there – nope – not going

Branches sway and bounce
Cold and harsh are winter winds
One lone bird blows by

Kate Rauner