"The stars are made of the same atoms as the earth." I usually pick one small
topic like this to give a lecture on. Poets say science takes away from the
beauty of the stars -- mere gobs 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 P. Feynman (1918-1988)