Universe, Part 3: A Bearable Vastness

Part 3

Lately I’ve heard a number of interviews with Natalie Batahla, planetary astronomer and poet. She works with NASA’s Kepler Mission,  a search for earthlike planets. Natalie has a beautiful optimism about the ability of science  to reveal mysteries and nourish the human mind.

“I have a great reverence for the mysteries of the cosmos… Carl Sagan said that understanding is a form of ecstasy.”

It’s wonderful to hear a scientist speak about her work, the discovery of knowledge and joy, so much the way artists explain why they do the work that they do.

“No matter how extreme the environment here on earth there seems to be life. nature seems to be creative, and robust, and my thought is that if it’s creative here it’s likely to be true in the whole universe as well. “

Natalie describes Dark Energy as Love:

“Ninety-five percent of the mass of the universe being something we can’t even see, and yet it moves us. It draws us. It creates galaxies. We’re like moving on a current of this gravitational field created by mostly stuff that we can’t see. And the analogy with love just struck me, you know, that it’s like this thing that we can’t see, that we don’t understand yet. It’s everywhere and it moves us.

“I am the universe, and I am taking a look at myself, using my senses.”

Then she quotes her (and my) hero, Carl Sagan:

“for small creatures such as we, the vastness is only bearable through love.”

Opening to the Universe, part 1

I owe you all a post or three from my recent travels in the Golden State. So here’s just one of the many highlights.

Josephine, my dear friend and east-to-west migrant got tickets for a planetarium show, and I thought, “Cool! I haven’t been to a Planetarium for decades!” I had no idea just how cool this would get.

The Kepler StoryThis show wasn’t JUST a planetarium show, it was The Kepler Story, written by Nina Wise and produced in incredible dome-surround audio-visual amazing magic at the California Academy of Sciences Planetarium. And if you are in or near the Bay Area, run don’t walk to get a ticket, it’s an awe-inducing experience.

The show consists of actor Norbert Weisser playing Kepler as he copes with the waves of change in his amazing life, against the backdrop of the universe, projected on the dome, plus an inspiring original score. It’s the first collaboration of planetarium in-the-round projection and live theater, and it’s intense, emotional and uplifting. The performance aspect is beautiful minimal stagecraft and a powerful solo performance, set against astonishing visuals that range from interiors of great architecture to Kepler’s mathematical imagination to the universe itself.

Nina Wise
Author & Director Nina Wise

Kepler’s personal story is fascinating and pivotal. He lived in the time of Galileo, defied the Roman church, a significant patron of math and science funding at the time and suffered the consequences. His mother was accused of witchcraft in retaliation for Kepler’s intellectual intransigence. He was working with the emerging yet still heretical idea of orbiting the sun, and his lasting legacy is the discovery that orbits are not circular but elliptical — a building block in the theories of gravity and relativity.

Kepler pursued his work with passion, intelligence and faith: not, perhaps the sort that his employers wished, but clearly a great faith in the beauty and harmony of the universe, as well as the god-given power of the human mind to comprehend it.

Coming Soon: Part 2: Opening the Gates of Awareness

Solar Flare: Spring, and Creativity Surge!

This awe-inspiring video made my day. I was mesmerized by the slo-mo rain of fire and hypnotic music. What a universe we live in!

Beyond the inescapable awe of contemplating such a life-giving solar furnace in action, and it’s profound beauty, I see a visualization of the creative spirit. There is something inside us, something powerful, seething, churning and growing, that eventually has to burst forth.

This engine of spirit, this passion to create burns within all of us, and emerges when we flow with spirit and create from the heart. How awesome is that? You are made of star stuff. You are magic.