Wednesday, November 17, 2010

As Through a Cosmos Darkly

It’s almost time to launch another ship.
Outward bound on yet another trip.
It is a noble, an expensive venture.
We want to see, to test if, peradventure,
A very complex modern instrument
Can finally detect an element.

We know that it exist out there in Space.
We cannot see it but detect its trace
In gravitational anomalies.
Galactic orbital trajectories
Suggest more mass out there than we can see.
That something’s there on that we all agree.
We have devised a name for it, Dark Matter.
The meaning is that galaxies are fatter.
They weigh more although they look quite slender,
Never mind their shape, their size, or gender.

Fritz Zwicky was he who first got to see
This troubling mystery in ’33.
In a galactic cluster named Coma
On its edges, around its corona,
Galaxies orbited much, much too fast.
Sky-gazers since have felt, have been, harassed
By this aptly named problem of missing mass.
Tracking the orbits or staring through glass,
They failed to fathom why something out there
Refused their sensors and even their prayer.

Dark matter thus turned into a brave sort of punt,
A clever proposal, a never-done stunt.
Physics boasts many such daring forays,
Many such elegant mental ballets.
Red shifts that signal endless expansion,
Black holes that cap galactic contraction,
A Bang that spewed cosmos from a mere dot…
Was that—or not?—the original Fiat?

Sail on brave ship into the cosmic black.
Beware Dark Matter of our brave attack!
We are determined to see, to sense starkly—
Even if only through a glass darkly.

[Suggested by a story in today’s New York Times titled “A Costly Quest for the Dark Heart of the Cosmos.”]

3 comments:

  1. Honestly, I read that article and sent you a link to it by e-mail just now BEFORE I saw this blog post. Too much!

    And the poem itself, well, a delight.

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  2. Space and "the meaning of" generally does resonate with all genuine Ghulfs...

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  3. Monique, you must now read "The Lay of the Conquistador" on p. 313 of vol 1, GG Trilogy.

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