Squirrels, Science and Space-Time Non Sequiturs

The squirrels are out, clearing the snow from the branches of the trees and I am pondering the relative sizes of protons and black holes, waiting for inspiration from the cosmos.pond ripples 

Time is like a river – Einstein’s theory of relativity

September 14, 2015 was a great day for Albert Einstein, although it took the general public until February 11 this year to learn just how great a day it was, with the announcement of the first ever detection, last September, of gravitational waves, originating 1.3 billion light years away/ago.

Once again the great patent clerk was proven right – but also wrong.   He predicted the existence of gravitational waves – but said we would never see them because they would be too small to measure.  Jason Davis, Planetarium Manager for the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, gave a lecture on the discovery of gravity waves/gravitational waves and noted that Einstein could not imagine the technology that would be able to measure a wave, traveling millions of light years across space-time, whose impact on the earth would measure less than the diameter of a proton.

But we did. And in doing so proved Einstein’s genius once again.  Plus, we opened up a whole new way to ‘see’ and develop new knowledge about the universe.  Actually, we both saw the waves as captured by technology, and heard them in a tiny sonic ‘chirp’ from that long-ago and far away collision of two huge black holes which generated the wave.  Learn more about it here,  and from Evalyn Gates, the Director of the Cleveland Natural History Museum, whose own scientific work relates directly to this discovery.

I leave it to you to explore this mind-boggling event further. I am no scientist and would probably get so much wrong if I tried to share more of what little I learned (or think I understand). I have probably already mis-characterized some things.

But as a poet, I am amazed and stunned by trying to grapple creatively with the concepts. I don’t know if any poems will come from pondering this new and fascinating mystery.  Things have to cook in their own poetic space-time continuum before the waves of inspiration start to ripple. But one of the things I like to do when fascinated with a word or concept and the Muse is out to lunch (as she has been lately), is an exercise my mentor Jeanne Marie Beaumont taught me.  It’s called The 100 Words and it is a form of creative play.  It goes like this.

Start with a word and, without thinking and as rapidly as possible, never lifting your pencil from the page, follow it with the next word that suggests itself from the sound of the first, then one that flows automatically from the sound of the second and on and on for as long as you can. Don’t manipulate. Don’t try to make sense.  The objective is simply to generate a rich list of words, related only by your unique senses of sight and sound – not meaning.  It’s fun – and often surprising in what flows from your unconscious as a result of letting go. I don’t recommend trying this on the computer.  There is something magical about the hand/brain connection to the page that is very different than typing on a keyboard.

Given my current fascination with the concept of gravity, I began there.  Here’s my 117 words.

Gravity, gravis, gravure, grave, brave, deprave, wave, wan, wane, plane, insane, remain, pain, pan, stand, land, brand, bread, said, led, red, redress, guess, bless, bliss, kiss, swish, wish, wash, loss, cost, coast, boast, boost, roost, rest, caressed, caroused, aroused, blouse, house, hose, host, roast, most, moss, toss, toast, toes, close, clues, rues, runes, ruin, bruin, bruise, cruise, peruse, perspective, prospect, speculate, spatulate, splat, spat, spit, sit, situate, citizen, denizen, denigrate, designate, demarcate, market, harken, bargain, bark, arc, art, fart, farthest, farmer, calmer, palmer, psalmist, solemn, column, balm, boom, bloom, broom, brood, hood, hoop, loop, poop, prop, prosper, ouster, outer, otter, bother, brother, cover, covert, overt, over, mover, mother, hover, however, never, weather, weaver, seeker, seer, reaper, river.

Try it. Pick a word. See where your mind takes you.  Try it as a family game some rainy day.

I leave you with these words of wisdom.

You will find truth more quickly through delight than gravity. Let out a little more string on your kite.”   Alan Cohen

Einstein's tongueYou can’t blame gravity for falling in love. Albert Einstein

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