An English Major Explains the Universe

Deepest infrared image of the Universe yet. Photo: NASA’s Webb Telescope, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

I once read Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time.” Heavy sledding, but there was this one bright moment when it all became perfectly clear. My hair stood on end for about five seconds, and then it all fell apart again. I am a big-time science wienie and was struck by an article in this morning’s EarthSky e-newsletter. My abstract that follows explains how 95% of everything is beyond our ken.

An English Major Explains the Universe

Astrophysicists tell us that everything we perceive,
from the end of our noses to the edge of the universe,
using all of our senses and all our high technology–
that’s five percent of what there is. All the matter 
and the light by which we see it, is less than the tip
of the iceberg. We might have suspected this all along.

Twenty-seven percent they say is made of dark matter, 
about which we know nothing except that it has mass.
And all the rest, sixty-eight percent, that’s dark energy.
And we know nothing about that except that it pushes
everything apart better than gravity holds it together.
If you think about it, we could have suspected that, too.

The astrophysicists think dark energy comes from
supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies,
is dark light that shines from dark stars, one might say.
Easy to believe come nightfall that darkness outweighs
the light; it pours out thick and heavy from shadowed woods.
But the dawn still comes to chase all the darkness away.

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1 Response to An English Major Explains the Universe

  1. Scott Barton says:

    I like this, Dale.

    Maybe that’s why “Let there be light”
    Is at heart a radical thing,
    An unexpected turn of events
    In an otherwise dark world;
    Maybe that whole narrative’s point,
    That Genesis 1 conception,
    Is to birth in us a new thing—
    Love and gratitude beyond our ken.

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