Preposterous Universe

Monday, August 30, 2004
Cosmically Considered

The nice thing about jet lag after a long trip westward (say, from Austria to the U.S.) is that you wake up early enough to enjoy the morning, something I tend not normally to do. Which is why it's too bad I am not still in my beloved Chicago enjoying a cup of coffee while watching the sun rise over Lake Michigan, but instead sitting in a hotel room in Riverside, California, site (Riverside, not my hotel room) of the annual meeting of the Division of Particles and Fields of the American Physical Society. Tuesday afternoon I'll be giving a review talk on "Theoretical Cosmology," which sounds a bit too comprehensive to be coherent, but we'll give it a go. Since it's the last talk of the conference, likely nobody will be in the audience; if I remember I'll post a link to the slides (once, you know, they've been written).

In the meantime, I'll share this. Poet Richard O'Connell was kind enough to email me a copy of this poem he wrote in 1976:
To Beta, Cosmically Considered

If relic radiation bathes the spheres
Isotropically, as water is to fish,
To an observer here or on Andromeda,
Time has an arrow sharp as Cupid's kiss.

If all is that primeval fireball
Exploding yet beyond the verge of sight,
We're genesis and apocalypse ourselves
Galactic cousins, catastrophic flesh.

Let us junk tyrannical cyclopean clocks
Geared to the wormwork of industrious forebears
Who added pittance by the pendulum
Only to leave their wealth to wastrel heirs.

Let us accept that arrow in our hearts
Transfixing us, targets of joy and tears;
The stars may see how in our spendthrift love
We keep a better time by keeping theirs.
Maybe I can figure out some way to work it into the talk.

Also, read about a Big Bang in your bedroom. (No, it's not what you think.) I will explain later.

Ideas on culture, science, politics.
Sean Carroll

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