Last night I thumbed through the August 2014 issue of Scientific American. I stopped at an article entitled “The Black Hole at the Beginning of Time” (by Afshordi, Mann and Pourhasan), which postulates a cosmic black hole that preceded the Big Bang.
For all that I comprehended, the article could have been written in early Cyrillic instead of English. Nevertheless, I was mesmerized by the exotic words and phrases that I didn’t understand.
There were these:
“a rich theory of holography”
“the observed amplitude and shape of primordial matter fluctuations”
“graceful exit problem”
“the sudden, violent emergence of all space, time and matter from an infinitely dense point called a singularity”
And there were these sentences that baffled me:
“Physicists quip that ‘a black hole has no hair’ – no distinguishing features beyond the basics of mass, angular momentum and electrical charge.”
“…our entire universe came into being during a stellar implosion in this suprauniverse, an implosion that created a three-dimensional shell around a four-dimensional black hole.”
And there were longer, denser full-bore paragraphs that made my head spin.
But then the poet in me had an idea. With my apologies to the academic authors if they are offended, I invite you to look one such paragraph as if it were a POEM:
We now know
that the density of ordinary
is only 5 percent
of the universe’s total
25 percent comes
in the form of
an unknown form
of matter whose existence
from its gravitational
And 70 percent of the universe
is made of dark energy,
the mysterious stuff
that is causing
rate of our universe
to speed up
as originally expected
Structured like that it’s fascinating and lovely, and, like a John Berryman poem, it makes me feel as if I’m teetering on the verge of understanding whatever it means.
As a wordsmith, I treasure words. I find pleasure in the arrangements of words that convey an idea or a story (or a theorem) to others.
However much I’d like to understand that article in Scientific American, there is simply not enough time (or motivation) for me to learn all I’d need to know in order for that to happen.
Nevertheless, I can delight in the beauty and the mystery of the words. I am content that SOMEONE understands them. Someone thrums and thrills with that understanding, and that fills me with awe and gratitude.
Wish we could be together for a day to discuss this. Your appreciation of the poetry of the words fits so well with the poetry of the Big Bang. I am fascinated by S. Hawkings explanations of the beginning of all things. And, knowing you, I think there is more understanding in your brain than you lay claim to! As my body grows older and weaker reminding me that soon the day will come when I will join the energy of the universe (s) in an exciting new way, I feel exhilarated to have been blessed with the capacity to understand more than I ever expected and to expect more to understand!
When I die and after awhile since eternity is a long time I want to tour the universe with Carl Sagan and S. Hawking. They can spend some of eternity explaining it all to me and then I can spend the rest of eternity just enjoying the images!
Ahhh mysteries of the universe. Hitch hiking across the galaxy I was picked up by a black hole just back from the Crab nebula, a dark matter that must be dealt with. It’s event horizon (confined to the back seat) only had room for one more passenger who had to be compatible with the green charm quark. We never would have discovered this requirement if the Higgs Boson had weighed in at more than 30 (or was that the Piggs Hoseon?). Thank the God Particle for very small favors.
Gary, this confuses/delights me as much as the SciAm article! C
I thoroughly enjoyed this. I so appreciate your comments about reading dense material and needing a Ph.D. to understand it. But your poem just pulled me along with the idea. I don’t necessary understand the theory but I sure enjoyed the reading.
Once again you are inspiring me, Cynthia. I have been playing with words to go along with my nature photographs, and this sure is another take on what might be possible!
Thanks so much. I always enjoy your posts.
Where is Carl Sagan when you need him?
You transformed incomprehensibility (which leads to my glazing over) to mystery and wonder at the beauty of words whose meaning lies just beyond my understanding. In the process, instead of glazing over, I found myself soaking in the individual words and phrases, gleaning a look at the mystery of life. Thank you, Cynthia, for expanding my horizons. I will try reading dense, scholarly materials (in and out of my field) as poems – it can only improve the experience for me.
What a lovely idea to convert incomprehensible language and content into a poem, where incomprehensibility becomes mystery. The engagement with the words changes entirely. What a gift you have for seeing possibility.
My sentiments exactly Cynthia! I’ve been watching Niel De Grasse Tyson’s Cosmos every night before I sleep as a sort of devotion. I am humbled and exalted by what I don’t understand! And part of me does!
I love that expression: ” a black hole has no hair”!
Wonderful writing! Yum!
Wonderful! In particular I love the word “suprauniverse” – though I haven’t a clue what that is, it makes me think of another layer of existence, another plane. Your poem has given me a new writing exercise, Cynthia.
Thank you so so much.
Yes such beauty. Like being swept through the Milky Way .
I read Stephen Hawkings and feel exactly the same way. I wish so much that my brain was capable of understanding the words, but they do feel so good to me.