Thursday, December 5, 2019

Reaching for the stars . . . with science and poetry

     Astronomer Beatrice Muriel Hill Tinsley (1941– 1981) made fundamental contributions to our understanding of the evolution of galaxies (See, for example, Wikipedia).  California math teacher, editor and poet Carol Dorf celebrates Tinsley in the following poem. 

       Ask for a universe and what do you get?
                a Golden Shovel for Beatrice Tinsley            by Carol Dorf

       For a while scientists' proposed loopholes
       crossing the universe, wormholes a technique in
       which to traverse distance to other worlds, this

       unpleasant constraint which most reasoning
       holds us to a single solar system or may
       be, just perhaps a transit could exist  

       to get us to Proxima Centauri but
       travelling 4.25 light years is a big if –-
       human tolerance of forces matter –- so

       most likely our AI will proceed us and they
       will send back slow data just to say We are
       fine and happy in the primordial

       reaches of space making the invisible
       visible while we observe expansion -– or
       it is possible we will forget them perhaps

       because the heat becomes unbearable or maybe just
       because too close to light we lose night's black.

Dorf's poem was originally published in Maintenant: Dada Journal (Three Rooms Press, 2019).

     And here is a link to a review by Dorf  of two books of essays on the history of mathematics:  Complexities: Women in  Mathematics by Bettye Anne Case and Anne M Leggett and  A Wealth of Numbers by Benjamin Wardhaugh.

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