Sunday, March 16, 2014

Making something of nothing

     Was zero invented or discovered?  When and how?  By whom?  In "The Origin of Zero" -- an article published in 2009 in in Scientific American --  John Matson introduces an interesting history of zero (something vs. nothing and so on...).  Recently through the Splendid Wake poetry project (with an open-to-all meeting on Friday March 21 -- go here for details) I have connected with Washington DC poet William Rivera who has shared with me this poem that also examines the puzzle of the somethingness of nothing.

Nothing Changes Everything     by William Rivera

                        Dark matter is invisible and mostly intangible, with its
                      presence only detectable via the gravitational pull it exerts.  NASA online

Black holes in the universe confirm the reality of nothing
changes everything, counters
the concept of recycling, on-going,-- that our atoms continue
in another form yet remain part of this same world,
whether nearby or far flung, part of what used to be
supposed to last evermore in this floating world.

But now, that genteel notion is X'ed out, new knowledge
of reality with nothing added,--
except the black hole's different gravity that pulls in
what passes by the black hole's path, including, eventually,
our cosmos. How now conceptualize a galaxy as something for dinner!
& us, our evolution, the nature of things,
learned for nothing, or for learning's sake ? 

Whatever! One day like this, dragged into a black hole, zapped! Gone.
The magic trickster nowhere to be seen!?  Nor hide nor hair of us!

And here is a link to "Ladies and Gentlemen in Outer Space"  -- a fun poem by Ron Padgett that plays with "everything."

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