One: A study explaining that some rapidly moving objects in the skies, sighted by US pilots and others, cannot be adequately explained given our current knowledge of atmospheric objects and conditions.
Two: A report that recent studies of B-meson decay at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland (OK, I have to stop here and admit that I always read it as the Large Hardon Collider) show a breakdown rate of B mesons into muons and electrons that defies the bedrock standard model of particle physics.
My take on both reports is that they reflect a similar situation: that, along the outer edges of science, we don’t know enough to make even temporarily definitive statements – and that therefore we should stop making them.
Two other recent (and somewhat similar) examples:
One: That lightning may have created a phosphorus compound necessary to the beginnings of life on earth (specifically, to the forming of RNA). Previously, it had been assumed that this specific compound of phosphorus could only have resulted from a barrage of meteorites. Yet… previous to that (over 50 years back), it had been assumed that lighting was a determinate in creating planetary life.
Two: That a significant quantity of water is encapsulated in free-scooting solar-system rocks. Again, previously it had been thought it could only have been deposited on Earth by a barrage of icy comets.
Think about it (from both findings): Life on our wayward planet goes back billions of years. Whatever the level of scientific knowledge at the time – why would anyone assume that the most essential elements of life came from “out there”?
That never sat well with me, and I’d been waiting for such akilter ideas to be upset. It’s not that I believe there was no influence on the early solar system from outside, but that it seems absurd to downgrade the planet we live on – to assume we’re a form of uninteresting cosmic debris that got shat on by passing strangers.
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A side comment that has nothing whatsoever to do with the above – or anything else.
Tonight I picked up one of Linda’s pottery pieces from the kitchen drying rack – one of her larger bowls that we use for salads, and one of my all-time favorites – to find two pieces broken from the rim.
I’d been expecting this, because the same pieces had broken how many years ago, and I’d glued them back with Duco cement and hope. Every time I’ve picked that bowl up, whether to fill it or wash it, I’ve tried to grip it from from the far side, so as not to stress the break line.
I’m ready to glue the pieces back again (found them lying quietly under the drying rack), but first I want to try to explain something I’m not sure I can put into comprehensible words.
Linda does a kind of figurative pottery I’ve never seen anywhere else. There’s a lot I haven’t seen (and a lot more I don’t give a shit about), but it’s a delicate tracery of flowers and small animals, lizards and the like, that she inscribes with tiny brushes onto the surface of bisqued clay that she then coats with a clear glaze. They’re like a child’s imaginings grown tall.
And here’s what came next in my thought: Linda and I were drawn together in part because of being different from the run of humanity. Yet there are a lot of people whom I see as “different” that I don’t give a damn about. So what is the real difference?
I think it’s that we are different in the same way. I look at her pots and I look at my writing (especially, Evolution Unfolding in a Small Town in Western Pennsylvania), and I see them as somehow alike, but not what anyone else would consider doing.
We’re also alike in not having promoted what we think we and our work is worth. How much art (or near art) goes into the planetary dustbin because no one sees it – or so few that it becomes a near-figment at the corner of the social eye. And much of that results from the lack of promotion its creators can’t be bothered with.
Linda’s pottery should be on every dining table of the rich and powerful.
Except… those fuckers don’t deserve it.