Monday, October 31, 2011

Tinkers Tell Stories

My older brother likes to learn stuff. He can weave baskets and weave scarves; program computers and make websites and do calculus; build hydraulic ram pumps and rock walls; make flowers grow and draw pictures. I like imagine Gary as a tinker, with strange looking tools and pots hanging off the back of his colourful wagon that he put-puts through the streets of Philly yelling "Pots, undented pots!"

The castle he designed in high school* is made from rocks with towers and walls and flowers things and it has this beautiful atmosphere of carefully structured chaos. The water from the hydraulic ram pump runs through pipes from the spring at the bottom of the hill and pours into a plastic garbage can surrounded by comfrey and forget-me-nots and bloodroot. It almost seems old, but it's really not, even with vines covering the walls and dead leaves building up on the ground from years of no care.

In Scotland, the castles rise over acres of hills and forests, or over cities of people and technology, and they radiate history like the sun spits out fire. Stories upon stories are bound by cold walls of stone and mortar and the blood of a million labourers. They tell stories about the old days, about the wars, and builders, and the past.

Maybe one day, they'll tell stories of Old Earth with ancient buildings that only reach 200 stories high, and diseases that spread like wildfire, and dinosaurs and castles and iPhones and satellites and Yuri Gagaran and the moon. Gary's castle will probably be lost to the ravages of time, so they say. Because it's not very big. And he only had two make-believe slaves to build it for him.

But that's fine, because it's the tinkers who tell the stories. And it's the stories that last forever.

*"Castle". Accessed 31 October 2011.

Footprints on the Moon

Supposedly there is no wind on the moon. I was reading about the Moon Landing Conspiracy*--they think that because the flag looks like it's blowing in the wind it means it's fake, which is not true--and saw I pictures of the footprints on the moon.

...which led to reading about solar winds, and then the sun exploding and then nebulae...

Everything turns to dust. Not just us tiny humans, who stare at the stars and wish for things when meteorites burn and die, but suns and planets and moons do too. After a star explodes, releasing as much energy as an entire galaxy in just a few days, it turns to dust: a writhing, swirling cloud of dust that was once a star and planets and moons, drifting casually by the rest of the universe.*

I wonder if the footprints on the moon are still there.

Now I'm imagining a giant space creature leaving footprints on the nebula.

My favourite thing about the moon pictures is the Eagle, sitting calmly on a layer of dust which looks like cement dust. The Eagle looks like it's made from tin foil spray painted gold, black wrap, and duct tape. And I love it.

One day we'll look back at pictures of our adorable, beloved Eagle that left its footprints on the moon, and think about how tiny things get big and big things get tiny. And then we'll soar through the stars, looking out the windows of our giant cityships that leave footprints in the nebulae...

*"Photos: moon-landing hoax myths--busted!" National Geographic. 16 July 2009. Accessed 31 October 2011

Nelson, Craig. "Ten things you didn't know about Apollo II moon landing." Popsci: the future now. 13 July 2009. Accessed 31 October 2011

*"Types of Nebulae." Nine Planets. Accessed 31 October 2011.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Dead Fish

I am in love with the ocean. I am also terrified of the ocean. One day, Dave took me to the beach. Palaverous silvery-ash clouds masked the sun, and white capped waves rose up repeatedly and broke in white spatters of glistening wet. I skipped from one rounded rock to the next, carefully avoiding the seaweed and slippery green stuff. Then I saw a dead fish.

"Dave, look, it's a dead fish." I pointed.
Dave looked. "It's a shark."
"Flip it over!" This is one of those times when I get all smiley and excited.
He flipped it over. Definitely a shark.

Sharks are cool, but here's the thing: the ocean is big. 140 million square miles of water covers 71 percent of the surface of the Earth.* More than 230,000 categorized species inhabit the vast, stygian depths, including the 200 ton blue whale that glides surreptitiously through the waves, and the squat lobsters in which exist in the 360 degree hydrothermic vents.* When you're standing on the moon, that's what you see: the glinting blue peeking through the swirling white--

Imagine an ocean in space. An ocean of water vapor, 140 trillion times more water than all the water on Earth, floating in the deep, black abyss of space around a massive quasar 12 billion light years away.* If over 230,000 categorized species live in our ocean, how many could live in this space ocean?

230,000 species x 140,000,000,000,000 = 32,200,000,000,000,000 species.

That's a lot of fish.

The ocean is big. The space ocean is bigger. The universe is biggest, and in it are ever so many possibilities.

But I will still get excited over a dead shark. Even it if is only as big as my foot.

*"Blue Whale Interactive." National Geographic. Accessed 10/29/2011.

*"Creatures of the Deep Sea: Hydrothermal Vents". Sea and Sky. Accessed 10/29/2011.

*Fazekas, Andrew. "Black hole hosts universe's most massive water cloud." National Geographic. 7/27/2011. Accessed 10/29/2011.

*"Interesting Ocean Facts." Accessed 10/29/2011.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Star That Wasn't A Star

I saw Jupiter last night. He waved and winked, and I was quite excited.

It went something like this:
"Dave, I don't want to walk up this hill."
"Just a little farther, Ariele, and you can go to bed."
"Dave, look at that star."
"Ariele, there are a lot of stars."
"No, that one." I pointed.
Dave pulled out his Droid with the star map app.
"It's Jupiter."

And then rushing filled my ears and the universe seemed to shrink, just for a moment, to the point where I felt like I could almost touch Jupiter, a rolling ball of gas wandering through the sky, shining brightly past its 63 moons and invisible rings, and dropping its light neatly into the palm of my hand. Then Dave began to drag me once more towards home, with a bit of stardust in my eye and a stream of starlight in my wake.

*"Jupiter." Nine Planets. ND. Web. 2
7 Oct. 2011.

Watching the Universe Expand

They say the universe is expanding, faster than we ever imagined possible; so fast, in fact, that the end will come with planet-sized cubes of ice and the simultaneous explosions of a thousand million unopened cans of soda. My aunt told me that she plans to dress in layers. It's a rushing train, speeding by us at the speed of sound, at the speed of light, at the speed of time.

I don't plan to miss the show. One day I will be writing to you from the window of a space ship, or from a space suit on the moon. Of course, in order to accomplish this, I either need to acquire a lot of money in a short period of time, or wait until you are all up there with me, until outer space is next best vacation spot. So for now I will watch from my living room as one star floats by at a time.

Today I saw a "huge 'waterworld' [that] has boiling oceans hundreds of times as deep as Earth's"*. A world where one year lasts only eighteen hours, a world in which water exists in a confused state of vapor and liquid, and makes up 20% of the mass of the planet. A world in a family of five, orbiting 55 Cancri A, 40 light years from Earth. Another planet, another beautiful, unreachable world. And when the universe explodes, it will rain water in some confused state, but by the time it reaches me, only shards of ice will remain.

*Slack, Chris. "Huge 'waterworld' has boiling oceans hundreds of times as deep as Earth's". DailyMail 10/26/2011. Web 27 October 2011.

*"Giant waterworld confirmed around naked eye star". MIT 10/26/2011. technologyreview. Web. 10/27/2011.