Dec 252012
 

He feels anew the faith of all on earth,
The power of salvation streaming thence;
But as he looks, he feels his very soul
Pervaded by a new and unknown sense:
Who added to the cross the wreath of roses?
It is entwined by blooming clusters dense,
Profusely spreading just as though they could
Endow with softness e’en the rigid wood.

While light and silv’ry clouds, around it soaring,
Seem heavenward with cross and roses flowing,
And from the midst like living waters streaming
A threefold ray from out one core is glowing;
But not a word surrounds the holy token,
The meaning of the symbol clearly showing.
And while the dusk is gath’ring grey and greyer,
He stands and ponders and is lost in prayer.

At last he knocks. The myriad stars above him
Look down with shining eyes as they appear.
The portal opes, and he is bidden welcome
By brethren wont to comfort and to cheer.
So he relates how far by hill and valley
The will of higher Beings led him here.
They stand amazed, for well they see their guest
Was sent to them by heavenly behest.

They crowd around him, and their inmost being
They feel by a mysterious power stirred,
Their breath they hold to listen, for he rouses
An echo in their hearts with ev’ry word.
Like deepest lore, yet uttered by a child,
The wisdom flowing from his lips is heard:
He seems so innocent, like crystal clear,
As though descended from another sphere.

The Mysteries, Goethe

Feb 192011
 

The carbon atoms inside your body were forged inside a star somewhere, billions of years ago. How did they end up on Earth?

A good way for a star to divest itself of carbon is by exploding. Massive stars typically end their lives catastrophically as supernovas. What happens is that the core of the star runs out of nuclear fuel and can no longer sustain the enormous pressure needed to hold it up against the weight of its material.

A critical juncture is reached at which the core abruptly gives up and implodes catastrophically to form either a black hole or a neutron star (depending on its initial mass). The overlying material plunges inwards, following the collapsing core, but rebounds and explodes spectacularly, spewing gas into interstellar space.

Stellar cataclysms like this eruptĀ  on average two or three times per century per galaxy, and release so much energy that for a few days the stricken star can rival an entire galaxy in its brightness.

Paul Davies, The Goldilocks Enigma