sax, guns and loneliness

Your car was deep red and sporty
squat, open to air, fast, tight
hugging free and purposeful
gripping rubber wheel streets

Music loud pounding rhymes shouting
guns battles brothers pounding
drilling into soft forest covers
like you truly meant war in peace

your car made room for only two
your self and another lucky soul
sat closely together as you drove
away from the fools behind you

i never could be anyone imagined
nor imagined my self to be anyone
than two fools needing one another
quietly without sentences wringling
together yet perfectly understood

affixed to the jocks and traditionally
popular with some claims to nobility
and all the choices of status before you
chose that i receive these secret words

i who moved through all people easily
these jocks opening beer and rubs
or fidgeting scientists finding meaning
sound maker's booming silent dreams
and imaginers of things always never there

you stopped me cold and held me in place
in that small cozy seat just beside you
as strange as it was for you and i we sang
discovered sentences only we understood

such time spent with you i remember rarely
conversations with your grandfather always in
the TV room, that chair of his sitting alone
your surprise that night you came in hearing
gramps and i talking away, you pulling me away
amazed because he could not hear

your father who rarely entered in, bringing
weight and silence, heavy thoughts, experience
of things truer than what is known to all
his creations objects that rise killing millions
his skin peeled periodically treating
the spoils of science and war

mom, wild turkey, and brisket roasting smells
the basement hideway

nobody has ever told me more truly of love
than you in your morning songs of voice, paper
in how you would watch me react like it gave you
some reward beyond necessities

maybe that is why,
ripped guts on that airplane night
you left for the academies of war,
i gave you my saxophone hoping
its sound on your lips would keep you
bound to what mattered more

but each letter on military stationary
i watched you altered through torture
blood, duty, worthfulness through acceptance
rigid, engineered destruction construction
and such academics as church might give

maybe that is why,
when you disappeared i came
across the country to the hills
to you with gray stone buildings
solid ash, desolate as spring
safe as calculated death

now, i can't even remember if i saw you there

but you do remember i stayed there away
on that eastern coast so far from stars,
the ever green trees, cool moss, open winds
my little habitat suit, so thin in youth,
barely keeping breathing in
the frustrations of these so many people
purposefully hating anything

you do remember i stayed there away
because you left the gray stones to visit
a day away from the deadly play then returned
leaving me in this crowded desolate place
where no one could speak with trees

maybe that is why,
the next day i gathered music
in that old rusted car finding the way
to the long wide roads back west
that slow journey of roadside meetings
travellers along their ways and the many roads
that brought us all to be here one by one

you saw me abandon a friend back there
yet this is what became us:
i saved myself on a long, dark street
while you moved on along to tame us

years have passed in your covert ways
and mine in my stumblings for all
such a great purpose you are become
for these few strategic men
plotting freedom for all, the acceptable
losses of life, limbs, solid fear,

i've heard nothing from you but i know
if we spoke, we would cry,
this would end

mabye that is why,
still songs remind me
how uniquely you lived
now alone at the top
yet sacrificed all
to be counted

i know the words you tell yourself
i watched them form before you
my first lesson in helplessness
watching you live what you hated

but if some strange chance might fall from night
and lords wrestle down from the beauties
i've kept the seeds from before cold fell
open in the light of this morning

fresh as dew on metal, twisted, by flame
and brilliant wild flowers grown from heads

the dream of a billion men before
gone, in the end, unsaid

Feel Safe – Exploding Stars Won’t Kill Us

Gamma Ray BurstGamma ray bursts used to be very confusing. Giant bright spots of energy that appeared in the sky containing more energy that all the stars of a galaxy combined.

That wasn’t the confusing part so much, though. What confused us was learning just how far away those bursts of energy originated. After we realized the Soviet Union wasn’t launching a nuclear attack on us, we eventually thought these energy bursts were occuring very near the “edge” of the universe, some of the first matter to exist after the big bang.

To have something create that much gamma radiation at such an unbelievable intensity, considering the enormous distance it most certainly travelled to reach would require an emmission of energy that was far greater than was possible even using all the matter contained in a galaxy. Many thought this phenomena would break Einstein’s famous E=mc2 — as far more energy was produced than could be accounted for with any matter.

Then they figured out that the blast didn’t travel in all directions out like a normal blast. Instead, it was focused into a beam – or cone. This saved Einstein’s equation since the mass required to produce the energy was greatly lessened by the fact that the energy output was highly directionally limited.

It’s still a lot of energy, though. If a long burst (around 2 seconds) gamma explosion happened even within 6,000 or so light years of Earth, it would likely wreak havoc with our atmosphere, stripping the ozone layer, and would likey cause mass extinction. The center of our Milky Way galaxy is about 26,000 light years away.

As if comets, volcanos, earthquakes, floods and general stupidity surrounding the harmful substances we produce weren’t enough to worry about…

But happily, scientists are now thinking that the Milky Way galaxy may not be able to produce gamma ray bursts. They say this, even though they still don’t really know what is causing them. At least it’s thinking positively.

There have been many theories about what causes GRB’s. People have imagined it must surely be black holes colliding. Or neutron stars colliding. Or neutron stars colliding with black holes. Or super huge, very hot, wildly spinning stars dying and exploding with black holes at their centers – lighter metal stars. Stars that explode so violently in their core that the wave travelling forth practically destroys the matter of the star itself on the way out.

And now some of these theories might be playing out sensibly. With all the equipment we have up in space watching these things, not the least of which is Swift, and with people paying attention to seemingly unrelated, mad thinking, it appears that observable GRB’s have only originated from galaxies with very sub-standard levels of heavy elements. Our Milky Way has a good deal more heavy elements than these. At least that’s what the New Scientist reports.

So, at least we might not get vaporized by something blowing up billions of trillions of miles away. Maybe… 😉

Plenty of Space

Heart-Shaped Comet Particle from the Stardust MissionHere’s a little heart-shaped piece of a comet, returned to Earth on January 15th by the Stardust probe, sent to meet up with comet Wild 2 about 7 years ago. They’ve found that comets are made of really all sorts of things. Materials that were made only very near the earliest sun’s heat around the formation of our solar system, to materials that are in the furthest, coldest reaches.

NASA has just released a nice little video showing their new space vehicle planned for the upcoming manned moon missions. It’s called “How We’ll Get Back to the Moon“.

I like the new rendezvous in space between the astronauts and the booster taking them to the moon. Hopefully the docking systems will behave a little better than the new Dart system which failed almost spectacularly during it’s first test recently. It seems the problem was the age-old problem of the technical people being pushed to meet deadlines established by people distanced from the actualities.

The new moon missions will also sport a ground landing for the astronauts upon their return to Earth instead of sea-based, though the mission in its entirety appears a little “retro”. Hopefully the parachutes will work a little better than the ones they used for the Genesis probe as well…

The NASA Multimedia Video Gallery also has a video on the decent of the Huygens probe onto Titan several months ago. News from this mission has been very slow in coming, especially considering all the hype around it. I discovered, at a lecture in Flagstaff by one of the USGS leads on the mission, that the probe encountered and exhibited all sorts of wild tragectories on its descent, sending it to and fro and spinning in ways they did not anticipate. Apparently they were working very hard to account for these unexpected turns in the data, and this accounting is taking a very long time.

Saturnian Ring with TitanAs Chris pointed out, there are still amazing images coming in from the Cassini probe as well. In fact, on May 20th it will be performing a very close flyby of Titan – it’s closest yet at just over 1,000 miles distance. Several experiments are planned for this encounter, and NASA has provided a mission description for this encounter as well. Maybe they’ll learn more about the strange cat scratches.

And of course, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has arrived at last, going a bit too fast to perform its truly useful science yet, but will be spinning around Mars for the next few months, dipping into its atmosphere to slow it, until it settles into a nice, comfy low orbit to begin doing some serious scanning sciences upon the distant surface of Mars, and even below (much like the ESA probe recently arrived, only less deep, where they actually expect to find useful water). The MRO has sent back some pictures already though.

So yes, plenty of space lately, at least.