Remnants of a Star

Contemplating the stars picks up one of the cornerstones of this blog: we orient by and are oriented as human beings by the stars. The stars are waymarkers out there; they are the building materials, too, of all carbon lifeforms; we host within us, are being created and renewed by elements that once floated in the spiralling galaxies. The very soul of human life–to say nothing of the iron coursing through your veins as you read this– depends on stardust. This is mind-boggling, amazing, wonderful. It is appropriate that we remember this dust in its earliest form as Lent begins. On this Wednesday believers foreheads’ are smudged with ash, a reminder of the beginning and the end, the alpha and omega. It is a reminder, too, that we carry light within us as remnants of the stars, heirs and reflections of an unimaginably vast and creative universe.

Our ancestry stretches back through the life-forms and into the stars,

back to the beginnings of the primeval fireball. This universe is a

single, multiform, energetic, unfolding of matter, mind, intelligence

and life.

(Brian Swimme, The Universe is a Green Dragon)

I loved this video piece (3″57) ‘We are Dead Stars’ by Nasa astrophysicist, Michelle Thaller, who has an enthusiastic, quite delightful dramatic sense. It’s exciting listening to her. Thaller’s little talk here dives into the  question: What is human existence? (If I had my ‘druthers’ I’d probably not have gone with the adjective ‘dead’. Though it is a biological word appropriate for organic forms I suppose, somehow it doesn’t sit right with me. Wouldn’t “recycled” do? I did look up upcycling and downcycling, but I suppose which you chose, up- or down-, would depend on your views of, and outlooks for, humanity?). I like the term ‘remnant’ for its allusions to (needle-)craft and I also make an imaginative association (leap?) with fire.

‘We are Stardust’ I like much better and it is the title for this audio clip (16”20) — also featuring Michelle Thaller, and including Danny Glavin, an astrobiologist, and Br. Guy Consolmagno of the Vatican Observatory. It’s well worth a listen. Some gems include the observation that humans are, in fact, just complicated rocks; that ‘you find life by looking for things that are out of balance’ (juicy possibilities in this line!); a lovely riff on the big Saturnian moon, Titan, and a musing on the question of whether the human is born lonely because making connections and coming to a recognition of interdependence is such a joy.

 We are the first humans to look

into the night sky and see the birth

of stars, the birth of galaxies, the

birth of the cosmos as a whole.

Our future as a species

will be forged within

this new story

of the world.

(Brian Swimme)

                                       A Supernova Remnant, Image ESA . . . Supernova image: European Space Agency  here


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s