“Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars – mere globs of gas atoms. I too can see the stars on a desert night, and feel them. But do I see less or more? The vastness of the heavens stretches my imagination – stuck on this carousel my little eye can catch one – million – year – old light. A vast pattern – of which I am a part… What is the pattern, or the meaning, or the why? It does not do harm to the mystery to know a little about it. For far more marvelous is the truth than any artists of the past imagined it. Why do the poets of the present not speak of it? What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?”
– Richard Feynman
Or my own piece, inspired by Feynman’s in the previous video:
“Oneness? What do you have to say about oneness?
What is the oneness, of which the poets speak in honeyed tones, of which intones the priest in hallowed whispers? Ask them, and nothing can they tell you of the oneness they profess. They can paint no picture of it with their words, nor transfer any special secret from their mind to yours, they cannot tell you of its shape or substance, or what they mean by its shapelessness, its insubstantiality.
But science. I will tell you of this oneness you have grokked. It is this:
Look up from this carousel on which we spin, viewing in turn each expanse of the heavens. The spinning globe’s turn, run on power preserved since before its birth, inherited from the dust which gathered to form it so many billions of years past. We ride on that same ancient energy, billion-year old batteries, not yet worn down.
This energy and that energy, they are one. And the stars share it; we spin in tandem, and with the planets.
And the lamps of existence? The fires of heaven, the heavens of earth; in their belly they forge carbon, iron, oxygen, and then in a brilliant flash of self-immolation, they deed them to their survivors. And what is their destiny?
Behold our bodies and our breath. We are stardust, daughters of light and sons of fire, we are what they are; we are one.
Trace the patterns of the planets, the swirling synchrony of the stars, the comets far-flung, the light – filling the immensity of space– hear the tune of the turning planet, the symphony of swirling stars, and look through the Hubble’s crystal into the distant past and join the possessors of the great secret: all things were once as one, all things are come from one. And so we are one-
in our past,
in our make,
in our destiny.
So what else is there? What of this could the artists have spoken, and what have they to add to this, the magnificent view of life and the universe?
– Hunter Glenn
The stars were no longer tiny jewels set in a giant velvet dome, as they were in the night sky of Earth. Here there was no sky above, no surrounding sphere. Only points of perfect light against perfect blackness, an infinite and empty void with countless tiny holes through which shone the brilliance from some unimaginable realm beyond.
In space, the stars looked terribly, terribly, terribly far away.
Harry kept on wiping his eyes, over and over.
“Sometimes,” Professor Quirrell said in a voice so quiet it almost wasn’t there, “when this flawed world seems unusually hateful, I wonder whether there might be some other place, far away, where I should have been. I cannot seem to imagine what that place might be, and if I can’t even imagine it then how can I believe it exists? And yet the universe is so very, very wide, and perhaps it might exist anyway? But the stars are so very, very far away. It would take a long, long time to get there, even if I knew the way. And I wonder what I would dream about, if I slept for a long, long time…”
Though it felt like sacrilege, Harry managed a whisper. “Please let me stay here awhile.”
Professor Quirrell nodded, where he stood unsupported against the stars.
It was easy to forget the small circle of marble on which you stood, and your own body, and become a point of awareness which might have been still, or might have been moving. With all distances incalculable there was no way to tell.
There was a time of no time.
– Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality (http://hpmor.com/chapter/20)
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