Friday, January 06, 2012

Exotic Snows And An Ink Drawing Of Plants

U.S. scientists say instruments aboard the Hubble Space Telescope have found evidence of complex molecules on the surface of Pluto.

The Cosmic Origins Spectrograph aboard Hubble has discovered a strong ultraviolet-wavelength absorber on Pluto's surface, pointing to the possibility of complex hydrocarbon molecules lying on the surface, researchers said.

Scientists at the Southwest Research Institute and Nebraska Wesleyan University said such molecules can be produced by the interaction of sunlight or cosmic rays with Pluto's known surface ices, including methane, carbon monoxide and nitrogen.

"This is an exciting finding because complex Plutonian hydrocarbons and other molecules that could be responsible for the ultraviolet spectral features we found with Hubble may, among other things, be responsible for giving Pluto its ruddy color," researcher Alan Stern said in an SRI release Tuesday.

Short wavelengths of light from the Sun
and energetic cosmic rays
that come from someplace no one knows
interact with exotic snows
far away on Pluto’s surface
adding energy and changing
atoms and simple molecules
into complex hydrocarbons.

Red ochre against gold ochre.

Patterns only the most advanced
telescopes in existence see.

Patterns that will randomly change
slowly, a season long and slow
almost beyond imagining,
as Pluto continues away
from the Sun before turning back
before coming back where the warmth
from all the wavelengths of the Sun
will melt and even vaporize
the exotic snows, returning
the patterns on Pluto’s surface
to the atmosphere there as gas.

Where do songs go when we sing them?

Can we throw away a drawing
by crumpling and throwing away
the paper the drawing is on?

If the most advanced telescopes
in existence can see colors
and shapes of colors on Pluto,
is there something somewhere somehow
listening to the songs we sing
looking at the drawings we draw
and making a science of us
if what we do is recorded,
cold patterns in exotic snows,
or tossed away, like rising steam?

One time I made an ink drawing
of some plants and gave the drawing
to someone and she said, “You know
some people make money from things
like that.”
I knew that. And I know
Pluto’s cold and getting colder
and its atmosphere is turning
into exotic snows falling
into patterns on its surface.

Patterns only the most advanced
telescopes in existence see.

I wonder: Are there telescopes
lost in the metonymy here
is there something somewhere somehow
that’s making a science of us?

A man named Charles Fort suspected
that we are property. Maybe
it’s not about science at all,
and it’s something somewhere somehow
like that observation, “You know
some people make money from things
like that.”
I know almost nothing.

And Pluto is moving away
from the Sun and getting colder.

But Pluto will come back closer
to the Sun and warm up again.


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