Friday, March 30, 2012

Distant Company

I am wary of talk of the universe, let alone multiverses. But I couldn't help cocking an ear in the direction of the radio while doing the dishes tonight. It was "Science Friday" and Ira Flatow's guest, the Nobel winner in Physics last year, was talking about dark energy. It turns out there's no such thing as empty space. I don't mean because of air molecules, I mean between the air molecules. It's dark energy, says this physicist, which is also what you find in between galaxies. It makes me uneasy to hear about this dark cola of non-empty empty space between galaxies and how the universe is expanding at an accelerated rate, and people bandying about string theory and dark matter and waves and particles out there. Too far, too much, yet stretched too thin. The stuff of bad dreams. But then it turns out that dark energy is all around us, it's down here too. Much better.

I like it better when the far-flung check in, come by your campfire with a much-obliged tug of the brim. When I started writing this, around March 12, Daylight Savings Time had brought the sun deeper into the afternoon. Furthermore, storms of solar particles were emigrating to us, the little blue marble that spun and the moon that didn't. In addition, I heard that the night sky was sharing the rare company of five planets-- Mercury, Venus, Saturn and Jupiter lined up over here and Mars over there. A quintet of cowboys moseying up like the Sons of the Pioneers.

Around the 18th, I went with friend Ed Hazell to Rock Meadow, just at dusk. The reason was woodcocks. The annual spring pilgrimage to hear their nasal bzeep from the tall grass. Then to have a small chunky silhouette burst from somewhere nearby and quickly get absorbed by the dark energy up there, the waves and particles, so you follow its twitters, while turning in a circle until a sudden cadence of irregular twerpy notes descends, like a fall of trained handkerchiefs, finishing with the low-angled rearrival of the chunky silhouette. Followed by the aforementioned lonely but hopeful bzeep.

Meanwhile, overhead, seeming witness to all this terrestrial folderol, four of the five cowboys were checking in. (The fifth turned out to be a stud on Orion's belt.) I offered coffee. They just crooned.

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