5 March 2005
greatest good you can do for another is not to share your riches but
reveal to him his own."
4 March 2005
telescopes look at radio waves that come from far-away heavenly objects,
just the way visual telescopes look at the ordinary light that comes from
the sky. In 1967, Jocelyn
Bell was an astronomy grad student at Cambridge, operating a radio
telescope. She noticed that intermittently there was fleeting noise in the signal,
and was curious enough and industrious enough to investigate what could be
Within a few months she had
nailed down the source: a radio signal that bleeped very accurately every
3.7 seconds and came from a single point in the sky. No one had any idea
what could be producing the signals. Stars are much too big to do anything
that fast. Bell guessed the signals might be radio beams from an
extraterrestrial civilization, and she whimsically dubbed the source LGM,
for "little green men." More formally, it became known as a pulsar.
Within a year, theorists had
figured out what the source was. All stars collapse violently when they run
out of nuclear fuel. The collapse can create a neutron star. The
entire mass of a star gets shrunk down so itís just a few miles across.
All matter we know of is made of atoms, which are mostly empty space.
Neutron stars are made of neutrons, with all the empty space squeezed out. A
teaspoonful of neutron star stuff weighs a billion tons. Because neutron
stars are so small, they can spin very fast and still not violate Einsteinís
dictum, that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. The neutron
star that Bell discovered is spinning around every 3.7 seconds, and produces
a radio beacon that sweeps by us once in each revolution.
(Baade and Zwicky actually
had predicted the existence of neutron stars as early as 1934, but their
idea was considered so far out that no one took them seriously enough to
actually look for them in the sky.)
Since 1967, many thousands
of pulsars have been discovered, studied and catalogued. But last
week, came the report of a new
kind of pulsing radio object. It is located near the center of our
galaxy and turns on for 10 minutes out of every 77. It is too powerful to be
a pulsar. What is it? Are there more of them?
3 March 2005
Had I the heavens'
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
2 March 2005
In Listening for
Lesnick cites a variety of spiritual teachers who have spoken to him,
despite the fact that he is not a "believer" in any traditional
sense. His own eloquent accounts of his experience are frequently as
inspiring as the teachers he cites.
From his introduction:
"My goal is to invite you to try on the spectacles with which I see the
world and ask yourself to what extent they fit you, rather than seek to
prove to you that you cannot responsibly refuse them."
"Much of what I want to write about can be more
accurately evoked than fully described, evoked through images and, indeed,
through silence. Discernment can be aided by silence, and can too easily be
overwhelmed by a tidal wave of discourse."
A citation from Abraham
Heschel, on infusing everyday life with a sense of wonder:
"There is no worship, no music, no love, if we take
for granted the blessings or defeats of living. No routine of the
social, physical, or physiological order must dull our sense of surprise at
the fact that there is a social, physical, or physiological order.
[Our goal is] to experience commonplace deeds as spiritual adventures, to
feel the bidden love and wisdom in all things."
I didn't realize that my
receptiveness to Rabbi Heschel's message was veiled by a hint of pomposity
in its deliverance until I read Vanessa Ochs expressing a
parallel sentiment more directly from her experience: "I knew what the sanctified
life was not. Not a life filled with more rituals, more scrupulously
observed. Not more praying. Not becoming a better person, being
more charitable, more concerned with everyone else's pains.
Sanctifying had something to do with a sense of constant wonder Ė feeling
gratitude and finding significance everywhere, in every action, relationship
1 March 2005
Jane Brody writes on personal
resilience in her Personal
Resilience. Call it what you
will - the ability to weather stresses large and small, to bounce back from
trauma and get on with life, to learn from negative experiences and
translate them into positive ones, to muster the strength and confidence to
change directions when a chosen path becomes blocked or nonproductive....
Being resilient does not mean
a life without risks or adverse conditions but rather learning how to deal
effectively with the inevitable stresses of life....
Children need to learn that
they are capable of finding their way on their own. Parents who are too
quick to take over a task when children cry "I can't do this"...are
less likely to end up with children who can stand on their own two feet...and
cope effectively with unavoidable stresses...
It is possible to learn to be
more resilient at any age: ... Take a chance on change if
jobs, habits or activities you've long pursued are no longer satisfying or
efficient. Change is frightening to people who lack resilience, but those
who try it usually find that they land on their feet, and that fosters
resilience. And if a new path does not seem to be working out well, change
Seek out activities that
elevate your spiritual life and nurture your inner strength: for example,
art, music, literature, religion, meditation, the great outdoors.
28 February 2005
i mean that the blond absence
of any program
except last and always and first to live
makes unimportant what i and you believe;
not for philosophy does this rose give a damn
-e e cummings