There once was a ripple in space
That grew at incredible pace
Now close observation
Reveals this inflation
Has left an indelible trace.
High above the oasis of Earth, your belly reflecting
The dappled azure glow of oceans rolling far below,
You are waiting patiently for your final pilgrims to arrive.
Soon they will climb to you on twin pillars of fire-
Hauling themselves up out of Terra’s gravity well
By their bleeding fingernails - to find you sailing
So serenely through the void, your mighty wings
Outstretched, shining mirror-bright, reflecting
The diamond-dust light of a million distant suns…
Then, dressed all in fresh-snow white, the bravest acolyte
Will float to your side in reverent silence struck dumb,
By the heart-stopping sight of you hovering there, silhouetted
Against the hazy, air-brushed band of the Milky Way,
Bathing in the luxurious light of ten times ten billion alien stars,
And with the world watching far below, trembling with fear and love…
How The Elements Got Their Names
Have you ever wondered where all those funny names on the periodic table came from? What the heck does “praseodymium” actually mean, anyway?
I’ve got you covered in this week’s video. Here’s the history and etymology of all the names on the periodic table! From Actinium (Greek for “ray”) to Zirconium (Persian “zargun” or “gold-colored”) I’ve got ya covered.
Oh, and I made it rhyme, because why not?
Sky Tapestry, by Cordella Lackey
A tapestry jewelled hangs over the night;
Have you looked up to see where it gleams?
There are rubies and sapphires and diamonds white
Interwoven with mists of lost dreams.
This tapestry ancient was hung up for you
Before Time tried to reckon with Space;
And for ages to come it will hang in the blue,
Starry jewels each one in its place.
Each star has a story, each mist is alight;
If you seek to know each priceless fold
You will treasure this tapestry hung up at night
By the Weaver of tapestries old.
Carl Sagan writes about the intersection of astronomy and poetry in his high school paper, because Sagans do as Sagans do.
In case you missed it, here’s my thoughts on Carl’s legacy in video form:
Selected stanzas from John Frederick Nims’ poem The Six-Cornered Snowflake, an ode to Kepler and distilling beauty from nature, even if that beauty is doomed to disappear in the hand that studies it.
It’s almost certainly the best thing I’ve ever read about snowflakes, or maybe anything.
(via Malcolm Campbell)