Bite me, Walt Whitman

This is no tiny little jewel box. This is The Jewel Box, a large star cluster visible with the naked eye, if the eye in question happens to be well south of the equator.

Photo taken by WFPC2 on the Hubble Space Telescope.  Click to enplait.

Photo taken by WFPC2 on the Hubble Space Telescope. Click to enplait.

Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars ~ mere globs of gas atoms. Nothing is “mere.” I too can see the stars on a desert night, and feel them. But do I see less or more? The vastness of the heavens stretches my imagination ~ stuck on this carousel my little eye can catch one-million-year-old light. A vast pattern ~ of which I am a part ~ perhaps my stuff was belched from some forgotten star, as one is belching there. Or see them with the greater eye of Palomar, rushing all apart from some common starting point when they were perhaps all together. What is the pattern, or the meaning, or the why? It does not do harm to the mystery to know a little about it. For far more marvelous is the truth than any artists of the past imagined! Why do the poets of the present not speak of it? What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were like a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?

Richard Feynman, The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Vol. 1

I have nothing to add.

Thanks to commenter “Dave” over at Bad Astronomy, for reminding me of this quote.

1 Response to “Bite me, Walt Whitman”

  1. 1 ycycle

    Oh my gosh….I saw an artistic interpretation of this just last night…on someone’s HELMET. Indeed, she foiled and bedazzled her HELMET. It was right purty. If I was a poet I’d write about it. Wait, I must be a poet, I have complained about science in this very way. I can be wrong too.

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