The Universe is Beautiful

The always-marvelous Genevieve Valentine sent me this photograph from the Hubble Telescope that brought tears to my eyes.

We are built of wind and flame.

This is the real deal, folks. The birth of stars. And it is freaky gorgeous. What you’re looking at here is a gigantic cloud of hydrogen which acts as sort of an incubator for stars. The gas cloud swirls and spins around the protostars which get hot and bright and raging. As they burn and build within themselves, they alter the space around themselves – particles spin and alter; space bends; light begets light begets light.

What is it about science that makes me start wanting to spout poetry? Why does this cloud of hydrogen make me nostalgic for the gestation and births of my children – those bright, hot, shining stars? Maybe it’s just me. I am, after all, the kid who was nearly brought to tears in ninth grade geometry at the thought of the asymptote as a model for unrequited love- a curve bending towards a line, moving in tandem towards the infinite with the object of its affection that it can never, ever touch. My god! It kills me even now!

Anyway, my thoughts are all rather launchpaddish even now, and while my thinking is still jumbled by metaphor and love, some of my other classmates are actually putting their knowledge to good use. Here’s Ms. Valentine recapping some of the coolest things we learned about during the week, and Professor Brotherton (our fearless leader) with an exhaustive and unbelievably helpful list of astronomy resources and links, and Mr. Williams on some cool imaging software, and Mr. Wethington on the gravitational lensing properties of quasars. Keep being smart, folks! I’ll busy myself with poetry until I can come up with something coherent.

4 thoughts on “The Universe is Beautiful

  1. Totally dig the picture. It’s beautiful, and I can appreciate how it makes you want to create poetry, which I think you do here: “the asymptote as a model for unrequited love”!

    • And I’m not kidding that I burst into tears in class. Similarly, in high school physics when we learned that on the atomic level, we never touch one another. We just have the perception of touch. So are we utterly alone, or does our singluarity make us the same?

      You know, it used to be that science and philosophy were essentially the same discipline. Perhaps we lost something essential when the two diverged.

  2. Glorious!!!
    I have loved reading (with the little green-eyed monster perched upon my shoulder) about your time at launchpad. Sounds like your mind just …. grew.

  3. Madelyn, you should TOTALLY apply for next year. Seriously, it was a magnificent experience. Keep your ear to the ground next year around Feb/March when the application period opens up.

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