Tabby’s star

I rather like it when scientists come up against something they can’t understand.  Tabby’s star is one such conundrum.  It’s behaviour is – pun intended – out of this world.

One of the ways in which astronomers search for exoplanets is to see if the brightness of a star dips as a planet moves in front of it.  Such dips are quite small and quite regular, matching the orbit and size of the exoplanet. Except for Tabby’s star. Hundreds of exoplanets have been discovered by this method, and they all display the nice regularity I’ve described.  Except for Tabby’s star.

It’s light dips massively above the 1% a Jupiter sized planet moving in front of it would cause; as much as 15% and 22% have been recorded. The equivalent of something massive enough to obscure half of the surface area of the star. And when it does brightens again, that too is not as expected. Instead of the dip and the rise being the same shape, as current theory says it should, they do not match.  Furthermore even the occurrence of these dips is irregular, and difficult to explain.  Finally, to add to the mystery, apparently Tabby’s star has been getting progressively dimmer over the last 100 years or so, (the star was first observed in 1890).

The name “Tabby’s Star” or “Boyajian’s Star” refer to the initial study’s lead author, Tabetha S. Boyajian. The star’s proper nomenclature is  KIC 8462852.  It didn’t show up in a computer led search for exoplanets, and was found by good old fashioned humans.  These same humans have come up with many explanations for the behaviour of the star, including of course, aliens at work.  But currently there are no explanations that fit the observations.  Although there are a lot of astronomers working on the puzzle and trying to come up with said explanations.  Just google “Tabby’s star” and see.

Which I rather like! One little pointer to the fact that we still have a lot to learn about this Universe that we live in!!

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Begin it now.

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back.  Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment that one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.  All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.  A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.  Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it.  Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.  Begin it now.

Attributed to Goethe.

Entanglement

If anyone wants proof that we have a long way to go in understanding the way the Universe works, look no further than entanglement. Einstein hated it.  He called it “spooky action at a distance”, trying to prove with others that it was a flaw in the theory of quantum physics.

But it does work.  And it has been proved to work time after time. And not only that, it works instantly, over vast distances.  Entangle or “link’ two particles, change an aspect of one, and the other changes – instantly.  Even though as Einstein showed, you cannot travel faster than the speed of light, disruption of entanglement is an instant process.

And physicists can’t explain it. Well, that’s not strictly true.  There is one explanation, but it’s such a mind boggling explanation, that most people shy away from it.

The explanation – that everything is already connected!  You, me, the stars, every atom  in the whole Universe.

I rather like it!

A face that still haunts me

It didn’t even warrant the title “stream”, trickle was a more apt description for the small outflow of water running over a few rocks and surrounded by a mantle of mud. I trod warily, trying to avoid the soft, sticky mire, distracted also by the number of items hanging from the trees surrounding the water. I found myself constantly looking up into their branches, which were hung with a panoply of  teddy bears, ribbons of all descriptions, and a host of small trinkets and mirrors that glittered as they spun in the breeze and caught the sunlight.
earth-faceSo it was an unexpected discovery. There at the source of the spring, was a face. It stopped me in my tracks, and for a moment I wondered if I was really alone, the face seemed to have been so recently created.  As I looked harder, I saw the two green leaves that represented tears, and felt the pain that seemed to emanate from it. I wondered who had created it, and what it meant to them, and I hoped that it represented a turning point, a transition that led to light and love. I stood there for a long time, feeling the mystery of the face, wondering about it’s creator, caught also by the ancient spirit of my surroundings, a place that felt outside of time. Of my time anyway.

I returned to that place a few times during the week that I spent holidaying nearby. I learnt that it was a place of healing, with a history that went back thousands of years, before Roman feet walked the land, and that somehow, the knowledge of its power had not been lost, and some still visited it.

On my visits, I never did see anyone else at this sacred site, although there was always a feeling, a feeling of awareness of a – I have no word for it – a presence.

 

 

 

Where did summer go?

I frequently walk some extensive wetlands that are home to hundreds of birds, many migratory.  And already one can sense the gathering energy as the migratory birds begin to prepare for their flight south.  Large groups of geese move slowly back and fore across the lakes, Lapwings flock and fly at apparently the slightest reason. The nights are beginning to draw in, the night temperature falling, and Autumn is drawing nigh.

But so soon!

Last night I watched the ISS pass overhead.

final_configuration_of_issIt’s remarkable that it is only just over a century before the first flight of an aeroplane, and yet, passing brightly and rapidly overhead was a spaceship carrying six other human beings.

Now there is talk of a Mars colony, a return to the Moon, and even light sails that can cut the journey to another Star to years rather than decades.

But I wondered what human-kind would take into deep space along with them. Greed, hate, intolerance, probably.

But I hoped not.

And then I thought again of the International Space Station that I had seen earlier. It was built by former enemies, now working in cooperation, it carried men and women of different nationalities, people with courage and resolve, prepared to journey through Earth’s atmosphere to get to it and back, let alone to orbit for months in that tiny, fragile tin can. And then to live and work together.

And my heart grew lighter.

 

 

Energy, good, bad, diverted

For more than ten years I practised Aikido, a Japanese martial art.  I was never very competent at it, but it did teach me one thing, and that’s about observing another’s energy.

The Japanese word Ai-ki-do translates broadly as the way of harmonious spirit, with the Ai also meaning Love.  I adored the concept, someone goes to attack you, and you simply turn their own energy back on them, no anger, no hurt, just taking the outstretched fist a little further than the attacker is comfortable with, they fall over, you run!

No hate, no anger, just love and compassion.

And the application of the lesson?  When you meet with another, in meetings, in relationships, in any way whatever, there is always an energy that the another radiates.  Sometimes it is wonderful and warm. Coming home from work, and your children rush to greet you.  Going into the corner shop, and the shopkeeper gives you a broad smile of welcome.  Meeting an old friend unexpectedly.

And then there is the negative energy that some another can radiate.  The glare from another car driver caught in the Monday morning queue into work, the impatience radiated by the shop assistant as you fumble for your change, or the anger from someone in a passionate argument.

And what have I learnt?

That you can learn to see, to recognise, that energy, good or bad.

And when you can do that, then you have a choice. To choose to accept that energy, and radiate it back, good or bad.

Or, especially if the energy is bad, to sidestep it, to remain calm, to choose to allow it to pass you by, to not get caught by it.

Instead to reflect Love, Ai, to know that actually there is no opponent, only the dance.