Atmosphere Earth Quotes

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Illusions are to the soul what atmosphere is to the earth.
Virginia Woolf (Orlando)
Free love? As if love is anything but free! Man has bought brains, but all the millions in the world have failed to buy love. Man has subdued bodies, but all the power on earth has been unable to subdue love. Man has conquered whole nations, but all his armies could not conquer love. Man has chained and fettered the spirit, but he has been utterly helpless before love. High on a throne, with all the splendor and pomp his gold can command, man is yet poor and desolate, if love passes him by. And if it stays, the poorest hovel is radiant with warmth, with life and color. Thus love has the magic power to make of a beggar a king. Yes, love is free; it can dwell in no other atmosphere. In freedom it gives itself unreservedly, abundantly, completely. All the laws on the statutes, all the courts in the universe, cannot tear it from the soil, once love has taken root.
Emma Goldman (Marriage and Love)
The human species was given dominion over the earth and took the opportunity to exterminate other species and warm the atmosphere and generally ruin things in its own image, but it paid this price for its privileges: that the finite and specific animal body of this species contained a brain capable of conceiving the infinite and wishing to be infinite itself.
Jonathan Franzen (The Corrections)
While an elderly man in his mid-eighties looks curiously at a porno site, his grandson asks him from afar, “‘What are you reading, grandpa?’” “‘It’s history, my boy.’” “The grandson comes nearer and exclaims, “‘But this is a porno site, grandpa, naked chicks, sex . . . a lot of sex!’” “‘Well, it’s sex for you, my son, but for me it’s history,’ the old man says with a sigh.” All of people in the cabin burst into laughter. “A stale joke, but a cool one,” added William More, the man who just told the joke. The navigator skillfully guided the flying disc among the dense orange-yellow blanket of clouds in the upper atmosphere that they had just entered. Some of the clouds were touched with a brownish hue at the edges. The rest of the pilots gazed curiously and intently outwards while taking their seats. The flying saucer descended slowly, the navigator’s actions exhibiting confidence. He glanced over at the readings on the monitors below the transparent console: Atmosphere: Dense, 370 miles thick, 98.4% nitrogen, 1.4% methane Temperature on the surface: ‒179°C / ‒290°F Density: 1.88 g/cm³ Gravity: 86% of Earth’s Diameter of the cosmic body: 3200 miles / 5150 km.
Todor Bombov (Homo Cosmicus 2: Titan: A Science Fiction Novel)
I never believed in Santa Claus. None of us kids did. Mom and Dad refused to let us. They couldn't afford expensive presents and they didn't want us to think we weren't as good as other kids who, on Christmas morning, found all sorts of fancy toys under the tree that were supposedly left by Santa Claus. Dad had lost his job at the gypsum, and when Christmas came that year, we had no money at all. On Christmas Eve, Dad took each one of us kids out into the desert night one by one. "Pick out your favorite star", Dad said. "I like that one!" I said. Dad grinned, "that's Venus", he said. He explained to me that planets glowed because reflected light was constant and stars twinkled because their light pulsed. "I like it anyway" I said. "What the hell," Dad said. "It's Christmas. You can have a planet if you want." And he gave me Venus. Venus didn't have any moons or satellites or even a magnetic field, but it did have an atmosphere sort of similar to Earth's, except it was super hot-about 500 degrees or more. "So," Dad said, "when the sun starts to burn out and Earth turns cold, everyone might want to move to Venus to get warm. And they'll have to get permission from your descendants first. We laughed about all the kids who believed in the Santa myth and got nothing for Christmas but a bunch of cheap plastic toys. "Years from now, when all the junk they got is broken and long forgotten," Dad said, "you'll still have your stars.
Jeannette Walls (The Glass Castle)
Looking more closely at Earth’s atmospheric fingerprints, human biomarkers will also include sulfuric, carbonic, and nitric acids, and other components of smog from the burning of fossil fuels. If the curious aliens happen to be socially, culturally, and technologically more advanced than we are, then they will surely interpret these biomarkers as convincing evidence for the absence of intelligent life on Earth.
Neil deGrasse Tyson (Astrophysics for People in a Hurry (Astrophysics for People in a Hurry Series))
You think man can destroy the planet? What intoxicating vanity. Let me tell you about our planet. Earth is four-and-a-half-billion-years-old. There's been life on it for nearly that long, 3.8 billion years. Bacteria first; later the first multicellular life, then the first complex creatures in the sea, on the land. Then finally the great sweeping ages of animals, the amphibians, the dinosaurs, at last the mammals, each one enduring millions on millions of years, great dynasties of creatures rising, flourishing, dying away -- all this against a background of continuous and violent upheaval. Mountain ranges thrust up, eroded away, cometary impacts, volcano eruptions, oceans rising and falling, whole continents moving, an endless, constant, violent change, colliding, buckling to make mountains over millions of years. Earth has survived everything in its time. It will certainly survive us. If all the nuclear weapons in the world went off at once and all the plants, all the animals died and the earth was sizzling hot for a hundred thousand years, life would survive, somewhere: under the soil, frozen in Arctic ice. Sooner or later, when the planet was no longer inhospitable, life would spread again. The evolutionary process would begin again. It might take a few billion years for life to regain its present variety. Of course, it would be very different from what it is now, but the earth would survive our folly, only we would not. If the ozone layer gets thinner, ultraviolet radiation sears the earth, so what? Ultraviolet radiation is good for life. It's powerful energy. It promotes mutation, change. Many forms of life will thrive with more UV radiation. Many others will die out. Do you think this is the first time that's happened? Think about oxygen. Necessary for life now, but oxygen is actually a metabolic poison, a corrosive glass, like fluorine. When oxygen was first produced as a waste product by certain plant cells some three billion years ago, it created a crisis for all other life on earth. Those plants were polluting the environment, exhaling a lethal gas. Earth eventually had an atmosphere incompatible with life. Nevertheless, life on earth took care of itself. In the thinking of the human being a hundred years is a long time. A hundred years ago we didn't have cars, airplanes, computers or vaccines. It was a whole different world, but to the earth, a hundred years is nothing. A million years is nothing. This planet lives and breathes on a much vaster scale. We can't imagine its slow and powerful rhythms, and we haven't got the humility to try. We've been residents here for the blink of an eye. If we're gone tomorrow, the earth will not miss us.
Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park / Congo)
Dad, one of my first memories is of sharing my worry with you about the space shuttle poking holes in the atmosphere and letting out all of Earth's air.
Brent Weeks (The Way of Shadows (Night Angel, #1))
A few feathery flakes are scattered widely through the air, and hover downward with uncertain flight, now almost alighting on the earth, now whirled again aloft into remote regions of the atmosphere.
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Suddenly the clouds seem high above us. They’re moving over us in an arch, circling the planet. They have seen abysmal oceans and charred, scorched islands. They have seen how we destroyed the world. If I could see everything, as the clouds do, would I swirl around this remaining continent, still so full of color and life and seasons, wanting to protect it? Or would I just laugh at the futility of it all, and meander onward, down the earth’s sloping atmosphere?
Lauren DeStefano (Wither (The Chemical Garden, #1))
No culture on earth is as heavily narcotized as the industrial West in terms of being inured to the consequences of maladaptive behavior. We pursue a business-as-usual attitude in a surreal atmosphere of mounting crises and irreconcilable contradictions.
Terence McKenna (Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge)
Not all shooting stars burned up in the atmosphere. Some of them withstood the fires and made their way to earth.
Reki Kawahara
Every cup that passes through a single person and eventually rejoins the world’s water supply holds enough molecules to mix 1,500 of them into every other cup of water in the world. No way around it: some of the water you just drank passed through the kidneys of Socrates, Genghis Khan, and Joan of Arc. How about air? Also vital. A single breathful draws in more air molecules than there are breathfuls of air in Earth’s entire atmosphere. That means some of the air you just breathed passed through the lungs of Napoleon, Beethoven, Lincoln, and Billy the Kid.
Neil deGrasse Tyson (Astrophysics for People in a Hurry)
Our personal hallucination now developed as boundlessly as perhaps the total nightmare of human society, for instance, with earth, sky, and atmosphere.
Georges Bataille (Story of the Eye)
Illusions are to the soul what atmosphere is to the earth. Roll up that tender air and the plant dies, the colour fades. The earth we walk on is a parched cinder. It is marl we tread and fiery cobbles scorch our feet. By the truth we are undone. Life is a dream. ‘Tis waking that kills us.
Virginia Woolf (Orlando)
Some molecules - ammonia, carbon dioxide, water - show up everywhere in the universe, whether life is present or not. But others pop up especially in the presence of life itself. Among the biomarkers in Earth's atmosphere are ozone-destroying chlorofluorocarbons from aerosol sprays, vapor from mineral solvents, escaped coolants from refrigerators and air conditioners, and smog from the burning of fossil fuels. No other way to read that list: sure signs of the absence of intelligence.
Neil deGrasse Tyson (Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier)
And in that moment, I was hit with the realization that this delicate layer of atmosphere is all that protects every living thing on Earth from perishing in the harshness of space.
Ron Garan (The Orbital Perspective: Lessons in Seeing the Big Picture from a Journey of 71 Million Miles)
Oxygen flooded into the atmosphere as a pollutant, even a poison, until natural selection shaped living things to thrive on the stuff and, indeed, suffocate without it.
Richard Dawkins (The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution)
Scientists at first were skeptical that a kitten-type being could exist in the rare Martian atmosphere. As a test, two Earth kittens were put in a chamber that simulated the Martian air. The diary of this experiment is fascinating: 6:00 A.M.: Kittens appear to sleep. 7:02 A.M.: Kitten wakes, darts from one end of cage to another for no apparent reason. 7:14 A.M.: Kitten runs up wall of cage, leaps onto other kitten for no apparent reason. 7:22 A.M.: Kitten lies on back and punches other kitten for no apparent reason. 7:30 A.M.: Kitten leaps, stops, darts left, abruptly stops, climbs wall, clings for two seconds, falls on head, darts right for no apparent reason. 7:51 A.M.: Kitten parses first sentence of daily newspaper that is at bottom of chamber. With the exception of the parsing, all behavior is typical of Earth kitten behavior. The parsing activity, which was done with a small ball-point pen, was an anomaly.
Steve Martin (Pure Drivel)
But genius, and even great talent, springs less from seeds of intellect and social refinement superior to those of other people than from the faculty of transforming and transposing them. To heat a liquid with an electric lamp requires not the strongest lamp possible, but one of which the current can cease to illuminate, can be diverted so as to give heat instead of light. To mount the skies it is not necessary to have the most powerful of motors, one must have a motor which, instead of continuing to run along the earth's surface, intersecting with a vertical line the horizontal line which it began by following, is capable of converting its speed into lifting power. Similarly, the men who produce works of genius are not those who live in the most delicate atmosphere, whose conversation is the most brilliant or their culture the most extensive, but those who have had the power, ceasing suddenly to live only for themselves, to transform their personality into a sort of mirror, in such a way that their life, however mediocre it may be socially and even, in a sense, intellectually, is reflected by it, genius consisting in reflecting power and not int he intrinsic quality of the scene reflected.
Marcel Proust (Within a Budding Grove, Part 2)
My desire for knowledge is intermittent; but my desire to bathe my head in atmospheres unknown to my feet is perennial and constant. The highest that we can attain to is not Knowledge, but Sympathy with Intelligence. I do not know that this higher knowledge amounts to anything more definite than a novel and grand surprise on a sudden revelation of the insufficiency of all that we called Knowledge before,—a discovery that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in our philosophy.
Henry David Thoreau
For if it is rash to walk into a lion’s den unarmed, rash to navigate the Atlantic in a rowing boat, rash to stand on one foot on top of St. Paul’s, it is still more rash to go home alone with a poet. A poet is Atlantic and lion in one. While one drowns us the other gnaws us. If we survive the teeth, we succumb to the waves. A man who can destroy illusions is both beast and flood. Illusions are to the soul what atmosphere is to the earth. Roll up that tender air and the plant dies, the colour fades. The earth we walk on is a parched cinder. It is marl we tread and fiery cobbles scorch our feet. By the truth we are undone. Life is a dream. ‘Tis waking that kills us. He who robs us of our dreams robs us of our life—(and so on for six pages if you will, but the style is tedious and may well be dropped).
Virginia Woolf (Orlando)
having freed ourselves from the constraints of evolution, humans nevertheless remain dependent on the earth’s biological and geochemical systems. By disrupting these systems—cutting down tropical rainforests, altering the composition of the atmosphere, acidifying the oceans—we’re putting our own survival in danger.
Elizabeth Kolbert (The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History)
Poverty is not caused by men and women getting married; it's not caused by machinery; it's not caused by "over-production"; it's not caused by drink or laziness; and it's not caused by "over-population". It's caused by Private Monopoly. That is the present system. They have monopolized everything that it is possible to monopolize; they have got the whole earth, the minerals in the earth and the streams that water the earth. The only reason they have not monopolized the daylight and the air is that it is not possible to do it. If it were possible to construct huge gasometers and to draw together and compress within them the whole of the atmosphere, it would have been done long ago, and we should have been compelled to work for them in order to get money to buy air to breathe. And if that seemingly impossible thing were accomplished tomorrow, you would see thousands of people dying for want of air - or of the money to buy it - even as now thousands are dying for want of the other necessities of life. You would see people going about gasping for breath, and telling each other that the likes of them could not expect to have air to breathe unless the had the money to pay for it. Most of you here, for instance, would think and say so. Even as you think at present that it's right for so few people to own the Earth, the Minerals and the Water, which are all just as necessary as is the air. In exactly the same spirit as you now say: "It's Their Land," "It's Their Water," "It's Their Coal," "It's Their Iron," so you would say "It's Their Air," "These are their gasometers, and what right have the likes of us to expect them to allow us to breathe for nothing?" And even while he is doing this the air monopolist will be preaching sermons on the Brotherhood of Man; he will be dispensing advice on "Christian Duty" in the Sunday magazines; he will give utterance to numerous more or less moral maxims for the guidance of the young. And meantime, all around, people will be dying for want of some of the air that he will have bottled up in his gasometers. And when you are all dragging out a miserable existence, gasping for breath or dying for want of air, if one of your number suggests smashing a hole in the side of one of th gasometers, you will all fall upon him in the name of law and order, and after doing your best to tear him limb from limb, you'll drag him, covered with blood, in triumph to the nearest Police Station and deliver him up to "justice" in the hope of being given a few half-pounds of air for your trouble.
Robert Tressell (The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists)
The solar wind carried the ejection straight to the Earth’s magnetic field, where it penetrated the upper atmosphere and cut through it like a scalpel through loose skin.
Nicholas Sansbury Smith (Orbs (Orbs #1))
Man must rise above the Earth—to the top of the atmosphere and beyond—for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives.
Socrates
If you think atomic explosions in Asia wouldn't affect Americans, consider this. A study published in Scientific American in 2010 looked at the probable impact of a "small" nuclear war, one in which India and Pakistan each dropped fifty atomic bombs. The scientists concluded that the explosions would ignite massive firestorms, sending enormous amounts of dust and smoke into the atmosphere. This would block some of the sun's light from reaching the earth, making the planet colder and darker - for about ten years. Farming would collapse, and people all over the globe would starve to death. And that's if only half of one percent of all the atomic bombs on earth were used. In the end, this is a difficult story to sum up. The making of the atomic bomb is one of history's most amazing examples of teamwork and genius and poise under pressure. But it's also the story of how humans created a weapon capable of wiping our species off the planet. It's a story with no end in sight. And, like it or not, you're in it.
Steve Sheinkin (Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon)
Imagine that while our neighbors were holding a giveaway, someone broke into their home to take whatever he wanted. We would be outraged at the moral trespass. So it should be for the earth. The earth gives away for free the power of wind and sun and water, but instead we break open the earth to take fossil fuels. Had we taken only that which is given to us, had we reciprocated the gift, we would not have to fear our own atmosphere today.
Robin Wall Kimmerer (Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants)
Suddenly she’s an ant all scrunched up on the floor of that world. A static atom in a sea of change. The immensity of earth envelops her, and enters into her. She sips it, with each gulp of heady, supercharged atmosphere.
M.R. Carey (The Girl With All the Gifts)
Thus, 99 percent of the Earth’s atmosphere is of biological origin. The sky is made by life.
Carl Sagan (Cosmos)
Energetically speaking, antimatter is the mirror image of matter, so the two instantly cancel each other out if they come in contact. Keeping antimatter isolated from matter is a challenge, of course, because everything on earth is made of matter. The samples have to be stored without ever touching anything at all—even air.
Dan Brown (Angels & Demons (Robert Langdon, #1))
The decline of geography in academia is easy to understand: we live in an age of ever-increasing specialization, and geography is a generalist's discipline. Imagine the poor geographer trying to explain to someone at a campus cocktail party (or even to an unsympathetic adminitrator) exactly what it is he or she studies. "Geography is Greek for 'writing about the earth.' We study the Earth." "Right, like geologists." "Well, yes, but we're interested in the whole world, not just the rocky bits. Geographers also study oceans, lakes, the water cycle..." "So, it's like oceanography or hydrology." "And the atmosphere." "Meteorology, climatology..." "It's broader than just physical geography. We're also interested in how humans relate to their planet." "How is that different from ecology or environmental science?" "Well, it encompasses them. Aspects of them. But we also study the social and economic and cultural and geopolitical sides of--" "Sociology, economics, cultural studies, poli sci." "Some geographers specialize in different world regions." "Ah, right, we have Asian and African and Latin American studies programs here. But I didn't know they were part of the geography department." "They're not." (Long pause.) "So, uh, what is it that do study then?
Ken Jennings
For example, partly based on Newton’s incorrect calculations of the moon’s density, Halley argued there was a second Earth inside of our Earth, with its own atmosphere and possibly its own inhabitants.
John Green (The Anthropocene Reviewed: Essays on a Human-Centered Planet)
Just as a white summer cloud, in harmony with heaven and earth freely floats in the blue sky from horizon to horizon following the breath of the atmosphere – in the same way the pilgrim abandons himself to the breath of the greater life that… leads him beyond the farthest horizons to an aim which is already present within him, though yet hidden from his sight.
Anagarika Govinda
In Sri Lanka, when two strangers meet, they ask a series of questions that reveal family, ancestral village, and blood ties until they arrive at a common friend or relative. Then they say, "Those are our people, so you are our people." It's a small place. Everyone knows everyone. "But in America, there are no such namings; it is possible to slip and slide here. It is possible to get lost in the nameless multitudes. There are no ropes binding one, holding one to the earth. Unbound by place or name, one is aware that it is possible to drift out into the atmosphere and beyond that, into the solitary darkness where there is no oxygen.
Nayomi Munaweera (What Lies Between Us)
There is something frank and joyous and young in the open face of the country. It gives itself ungrudgingly to the moods of the season, holding nothing back. Like the plains of Lombardy, it seems to rise a little to meet the sun. The air and the earth are curiously mated and intermingled, as if the one were the breath of the other. You feel in the atmosphere the same tonic, puissant quality that is in the tilth, the same strength and resoluteness.
Willa Cather (O Pioneers!)
From the vast, invisible ocean of moonlight overhead fell, here and here, a slender, broken stream that seemed to plash against the intercepting branches and trickle to earth, forming small white pools among the clumps of laurel. But these leaks were few and served only to accentuate the blackness of his environment, which his imagination found it easy to people with all manner of unfamiliar shapes, menacing, uncanny, or merely grotesque. He to whom the portentous conspiracy of night and solitude and silence in the heart of a great forest is not an unknown experience needs not to be told what another world it all is - how even the most commonplace and familiar objects take on another character. The trees group themselves differently; they draw closer together, as if in fear. The very silence has another quality than the silence of the day. And it is full of half-heard whispers, whispers that startle - ghosts of sounds long dead. There are living sounds, too, such as are never heard under other conditions: notes of strange night birds, the cries of small animals in sudden encounters with stealthy foes, or in their dreams, a rustling in the dead leaves - it may be the leap of a wood rat, it may be the footstep of a panther. What caused the breaking of that twig? What the low, alarmed twittering in that bushful of birds? There are sounds without a name, forms without substance, translations in space of objects which have not been seen to move, movements wherein nothing is observed to change its place. Ah, children of the sunlight and the gaslight, how little you know of the world in which you live! ("A Tough Tussle")
Ambrose Bierce (Ghost Stories (Haunting Ghost Stories))
The earth was initially very hot and without an atmosphere. In the course of time it cooled and acquired an atmosphere from the emission of gases from the rocks.
Stephen Hawking (A Brief History of Time)
It is my conclusion that the human mind and body is essentially a single cell rechargeable battery that is charged from the atmospheric DC voltage and the Earth.
Steven Magee (Health Forensics)
The stars! All those nuclear explosions sending out light waves, a very few of whose fate is to dissipate on my retinas. I look into the voids in between, a nothingness more absolute than any vacuum on Earth. In space, without any atmosphere to cloud my view, even that void resolves into more distant pricks of light. Nowhere is truly empty. The thought makes me feel lavishly alone. Somehow, space is so deeply melancholy that it's not at all sad, like a note so low it ceases to sound. Even my sorrow about my insignificance is insignificant.
Eliot Schrefer (The Darkness Outside Us)
You stand there, braced. Cloud shadows race back over the buff rock stacks as a projected film, casting a queasy, mottled ground rash. The air hisses and it is no local breeze but the great harsh sweep of wind from the turning of the earth. The wild country -- indigo jags of mountain, grassy plain everlasting, tumbled stones like fallen cities, the flaring roll of sky -- provokes a spiritual shudder. It is like a deep note that cannot be heard but is felt, it is like a claw in the gut.
Annie Proulx
Despite my resistance to hyperbole, the LHC belongs to a world that can only be described with superlatives. It is not merely large: the LHC is the biggest machine ever built. It is not merely cold: the 1.9 kelvin (1.9 degrees Celsius above absolute zero) temperature necessary for the LHC’s supercomputing magnets to operate is the coldest extended region that we know of in the universe—even colder than outer space. The magnetic field is not merely big: the superconducting dipole magnets generating a magnetic field more than 100,000 times stronger than the Earth’s are the strongest magnets in industrial production ever made. And the extremes don’t end there. The vacuum inside the proton-containing tubes, a 10 trillionth of an atmosphere, is the most complete vacuum over the largest region ever produced. The energy of the collisions are the highest ever generated on Earth, allowing us to study the interactions that occurred in the early universe the furthest back in time.
Lisa Randall (Knocking on Heaven's Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World)
The Hubble Space Telescope has spotted aurora near the poles of both Saturn and Jupiter. And on Earth, the aurora borealis and australis (the northern and southern lights) serve as intermittent reminders of how nice it is to have a protective atmosphere.
Neil deGrasse Tyson (Astrophysics for People in a Hurry (Astrophysics for People in a Hurry Series))
You think this is the first time such a thing has happened? Don’t you know about oxygen?” “I know it’s necessary for life.” “It is now,” Malcolm said. “But oxygen is actually a metabolic poison. It’s a corrosive gas, like fluorine, which is used to etch glass. And when oxygen was first produced as a waste product by certain plant cells—say, around three billion years ago—it created a crisis for all other life on our planet. Those plant cells were polluting the environment with a deadly poison. They were exhaling a lethal gas, and building up its concentration. A planet like Venus has less than one percent oxygen. On earth, the concentration of oxygen was going up rapidly—five, ten, eventually twenty-one percent! Earth had an atmosphere of pure poison! Incompatible with life!” Hammond looked irritated. “So what is your point? That modern pollutants will be incorporated, too?” “No,” Malcolm said. “My point is that life on earth can take care of itself. In the thinking of a human being, a hundred years is a long time. A hundred years ago, we didn’t have cars and airplanes and computers and vaccines.… It was a whole different world. But to the earth, a hundred years is nothing. A million years is nothing. This planet lives and breathes on a much vaster scale. We can’t imagine its slow and powerful rhythms, and we haven’t got the humility to try. We have been residents here for the blink of an eye. If we are gone tomorrow, the earth will not miss us.
Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park (Jurassic Park, #1))
Nature itself has a memory: There is some indefinable psychic element in the earth’s atmosphere upon which all human and physical actions or phenomena are photographed or impressed.                   —
Katherine Harbour (Nettle King (Night and Nothing Novels))
Is that shooting star just a happy accident or has the universe had it planned for a thousand years?” He tilted his face to the sky, his eyes tracking an imaginary star as it screamed to earth. He looked back to her. “Either way, you can’t stop it. You can beg it to slow down or you can just enjoy the show.” “Am I the star in this story or you?” Blake wrinkled his nose and chuckled. “Was that a bad analogy? I meant we’re the star, Livia. Us. This.” He shrugged his shoulders like it was the most obvious thing in the world. “Us being in the same atmosphere is either a great cosmic catastrophe or the most serendipitous rendezvous.
Debra Anastasia
I remember the big gaping hole left by my dad’s absence in the months following the accident. He’d been the one who went to my parent-teacher conferences, the one who taught me mnemonics to memorize the Great Lakes and the Earth’s atmospheres. Whenever I did something silly, my dad always made me feel better by telling me a story from the firehouse about someone who had done something even sillier. Sometimes you don’t realize all the things a person does for you until they aren’t there to do them anymore.
Paula Stokes (Girl Against the Universe)
The questions of God – meaning in Milton’s phrase “The god who hung the stars like lamps in heaven” – I don’t think psychedelics can address that definitively, but there is another god, a goddess, the goddess of biology, the goddess of the coherent animal human world, the world of the oceans, the atmosphere, and the planet. In short, our world! The world that we were born into, that we evolved into, and that we came from. That world, the psychedelics want to connect us up to… Our individuality, as people and as a species, is an illusion of bad language that the psychedelics dissolve into the greater feeling of connectedness that underlies our being here, and to my mind that’s the religious impulse. It’s not a laundry list of moral dos and don’ts, or a set of dietary prescriptions or practices: it’s a sense of connectedness, responsibility for our fellow human beings and for the earth you walking around on, and because these psychedelics come out of that plant vegetable matrix they are the way back into it.
Terence McKenna
Walt also had a humorous sign posted outside the mansion, recruiting ghosts who wanted to enjoy 'active retirement' in the "country club atmosphere' of this 'fashionable address'. Interested ghosts were to write to the 'Ghost Relations Dept. Disneyland,' and were told,'Do not apply in person.
Leslie Le Mon (The Disneyland Book of Secrets 2014 - DCA: One Local's Unauthorized, Rapturous and Indispensable Guide to the Happiest Place on Earth)
What a night it was! The jagged masses of heavy dark cloud were rolling at intervals from horizon to horizon, and thin white wreaths covered the stars. Through all the rush of the cloud river the moon swam, breasting the waves and disappearing again in the darkness. I walked up and down, drinking in the beauty of the quiet earth and the changing sky. The night was absolutely silent. Nothing seemed to be abroad. There was no scurrying of rabbits, or twitter of the half-asleep birds. And though the clouds went sailing across the sky, the wind that drove them never came low enough to rustle the dead leaves in the woodland paths. Across the meadows I could see the church tower standing out black and grey against the sky. ("Man Size In Marble")
E. Nesbit (Ghost Stories (Haunting Ghost Stories))
Time spent with others creates an atmosphere that is warm, relaxed, friendly, down-to-earth, close, comfortable, snug, and welcoming. In many ways, it is like a good hug, but without the physical contact. It is in this situation that you can be completely relaxed and yourself. The art of hygge is therefore also the art of expanding your comfort zone to include other people.
Meik Wiking (The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living)
The water beneath the Temple was both actual and metaphorical, existing as springs and streams, as spiritual energy, and as a symbol of the receptive or lunar aspect of nature. The meaning of that principle is too wide and elusive for it to be given any one name, so in the terminology of ancient science it was given a number, 1,080. Its polar opposite, the positive, solar force in the universe, was also referred to as a number 666. These two numbers, which have an approximate golden-section relationship of 1:1.62, were at the root of the alchemical formula that expressed the supreme purpose of the Temple. Its polar opposite, the positive, solar force in the universe, was also referred to as a number 666. Not merely was it used to generate energy from fusion of atmospheric and terrestrial currents, but it also served to combine in harmony all the correspondences of those forces on every level of creation.
John Michell (The Dimensions of Paradise: Sacred Geometry, Ancient Science, and the Heavenly Order on Earth)
He was a boy breaking out and into himself at once. That's what I wanted—not merely the body, desirable as it was, but its will to grow into the very world that rejects its hunger. Then I wanted more, the scent, the atmosphere of him, the taste of French fries and peanut butter under the salve of his tongue, the salt around his neck from two hour drives to nowhere and a Burger King at the edge of the county, a day of tense talk with his old man, the rust from the electric razor he shared with that old man, how I would always find it on the sink in its sad plastic case, the tobacco, weed and cocaine smoke on his fingers mixed with motor oil, all of it accumulating into the afterscent of wood smoke caught and soaked in his hair, as if when he came to me, his mouth wet and wanting, he came from a place on fire, a place he could never return to.
Ocean Vuong (On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous)
Dangerous and indifferent ground: against its fixed mass the tragedies of people count for nothing although the signs of misadventure are everywhere. No past slaughter nor cruelty, no accident nor murder that occurs on the little ranches or at the isolate crossroads with their bare populations of three or seventeen, or in the reckless trailer courts of mining towns delays the flood of morning light. Fences, cattle, roads, refineries, mines, gravel pits, traffic lights, graffiti'd celebration of athletic victory on bridge overpass, crust of blood on the Wal-Mart loading dock, the sun-faded wreaths of plastic flowers marking death on the highway are ephemeral. Other cultures have camped here a while and disappeared. Only earth and sky matter. Only the endlessly repeated flood of morning light. You begin to see that God does not owe us much beyond that.
Annie Proulx
Mars is not Earth. It doesn't have a thick atmosphere to bend light and carry particles that reflect light around corners. It's damn near a vacuum here. Once the sun isn't visible, I'm in the dark. Phobos gives me some moonlight, but not enough to work with. Deimos is a little piece of crap that's no good to anyone.
Andy Weir (The Martian)
It is worse, much worse, than you think. The slowness of climate change is a fairy tale, perhaps as pernicious as the one that says it isn’t happening at all, and comes to us bundled with several others in an anthology of comforting delusions: that global warming is an Arctic saga, unfolding remotely; that it is strictly a matter of sea level and coastlines, not an enveloping crisis sparing no place and leaving no life undeformed; that it is a crisis of the “natural” world, not the human one; that those two are distinct, and that we live today somehow outside or beyond or at the very least defended against nature, not inescapably within and literally overwhelmed by it; that wealth can be a shield against the ravages of warming; that the burning of fossil fuels is the price of continued economic growth; that growth, and the technology it produces, will allow us to engineer our way out of environmental disaster; that there is any analogue to the scale or scope of this threat, in the long span of human history, that might give us confidence in staring it down. None of this is true. But let’s begin with the speed of change. The earth has experienced five mass extinctions before the one we are living through now, each so complete a wiping of the fossil record that it functioned as an evolutionary reset, the planet’s phylogenetic tree first expanding, then collapsing, at intervals, like a lung: 86 percent of all species dead, 450 million years ago; 70 million years later, 75 percent; 125 million years later, 96 percent; 50 million years later, 80 percent; 135 million years after that, 75 percent again. Unless you are a teenager, you probably read in your high school textbooks that these extinctions were the result of asteroids. In fact, all but the one that killed the dinosaurs involved climate change produced by greenhouse gas. The most notorious was 250 million years ago; it began when carbon dioxide warmed the planet by five degrees Celsius, accelerated when that warming triggered the release of methane, another greenhouse gas, and ended with all but a sliver of life on Earth dead. We are currently adding carbon to the atmosphere at a considerably faster rate; by most estimates, at least ten times faster. The rate is one hundred times faster than at any point in human history before the beginning of industrialization. And there is already, right now, fully a third more carbon in the atmosphere than at any point in the last 800,000 years—perhaps in as long as 15 million years. There were no humans then. The oceans were more than a hundred feet higher.
David Wallace-Wells (The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming)
Shabbat comes with its own holiness; we enter not simply a day, but an atmosphere. My father cites the Zohar: the Sabbath is the name of God. We are within the Sabbath rather than the Sabbath being within us. For my father, the question is how to perceive that holiness: not how much to observe, but how to observe. Strict adherence to the laws regulating Sabbath observance doesn’t suffice; the goal is creating the Sabbath as a foretaste of paradise. The Sabbath is a metaphor for paradise and a testimony to God’s presence; in our prayers, we anticipate a messianic era that will be a Sabbath, and each Shabbat prepares us for that experience: “Unless one learns how to relish the taste of Sabbath … one will be unable to enjoy the taste of eternity in the world to come.” It was on the seventh day that God gave the world a soul, and “[the world’s] survival depends upon the holiness of the seventh day.” The task, he writes, becomes how to convert time into eternity, how to fill our time with spirit: “Six days a week we wrestle with the world, wringing profit from the earth; on the Sabbath we especially care for the seed of eternity planted in the soul. The world has our hands, but our soul belongs to Someone Else.
Abraham Joshua Heschel (The Sabbath)
Illusions are to the soul what atmosphere is to the earth. Roll up that tender air and the plant dies, the colour fades. The earth we walk on is a parched cinder. It is smarl we tread and fiery cobbles scorch our feet. By the truth we are undone. Life is a dream. 'Tis waking that kills us. He who robs us of our dreams robs us of our life...
Virginia Woolf
Bill McKibben named his climate change advocacy group 350.org, because 350 ppm of atmospheric carbon dioxide is what Dr. James Hansen, former head of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies and one of the most respected climatologists in the world, says is the maximum level to “preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted.” Tragically, we have now exceeded 400 ppm.
Bernie Sanders (Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In)
WHO AM I? I have seven heavenly panels Leading up to a pointed sphere I’m multidimensional like a crystal And my center is never clear. I’m an inventor and pioneer. A mentor to my peers. But I'm not as sound as my shell reveals, Because I’m tormented by my fears - That may appear to be grounded But my insides are filled with tears. And the sadness is well-founded, From years and years Of traumatic experiences Compounded In the most demented Atmospheres. I talk but feel like nobody hears. Has reason disappeared? And, God, are you near? This is Giza’s 7th light force And I'm asking you to interfere. I can no longer walk amongst the blind and dead With open eyes and ears. I’m trying to maintain my sanity And to straighten up my veneer As I roll amongst the growing calamities Flowing on Earth’s severely trashed Frontier. Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun (2010)
Suzy Kassem (Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem)
What makes the Earth remarkable is not its position in the universe—many Earth-size planets orbit their stars close enough for liquid water to exist—but what inhabits it. It is not just the Earth’s liquid blue oceans but its vast desert plains too; the oxygen-rich atmosphere and solid molten core; the millions of species and the complex, diverse ecological systems—all of which combine in an exquisite, unique dance to make the Earth special.
Sarafina El-Badry Nance (Starstruck: A Memoir of Astrophysics and Finding Light in the Dark)
…And I know you are tired, love. I know the ache lodged in your bones. I know it has been a long road and you yearn for rest and comfort and home. But I’ve also seen you twirling, barefoot in the grass by moonlight. And that moon? She is dancing with the sun and this wild spinning earth, coaxing the ocean to crash on the shore, over and over again, just for you. And I know there are stars traveling unfathomable distances and burning to dust when they enter our atmosphere so that you can breathe a little bit of light into your soul when you need it the most.
Jeanette LeBlanc
Always remember what Heraclitus said: 'The death of earth is the birth of water, the death of water is the birth of atmosphere, the death of atmosphere is fire, and conversely.' Remember, too, his image of the man who forgets the way he is going; and: 'They are at variance with that with which they most continuously have converse (Reason which governs the Universe), and the things they meet with every day appear alien to them'; and again: 'We suppose that we act and speak'; and: 'We must not be like children with parents,' that is, accept things simply as we have received them.
Marcus Aurelius (Meditations)
The challenge for us is to realise our unity with all life, and even with the inanimate world around us. The seas with their currents, the atmosphere and the continents of the earth are all in motion, stirring with their own kinds of life. Our malaise as a civilised people comes in large measure from our ability to distance ourselves from nature and from one another. A real therapy is one with a vision, not only of the individual person, but also of how the whole planet is to be healed.
David Brazier
The sense of respiration is an example of our natural sense relationship with the atmospheric matrix. Remember, respiration means to re-spire, to re-spirit ourselves by breathing. It, too, is a consensus of many senses. We may always bring the natural relationships of our senses and the matrix into consciousness by becoming aware of our tensions and relaxations while breathing. The respiration process is guided by our natural attraction to connect with fresh air and by our attraction to nurture nature by feeding it carbon dioxide and water, the foods for Earth that we grow within us during respiration. When we hold our breath, our story to do so makes our senses feel the suffocation discomfort of being separated from Earth's atmosphere. It draws our attention to follow our attraction to air, so we inspire and gain comfort. Then the attraction to feed Earth comes into play so we exhale food for it to eat and we again gain comfort. This process feels good, it is inspiring. Together, we and Earth conspire (breathe together) so that neither of us will expire. The vital nature of this process is brought to consciousness when we recognize that the word for air, spire, also means spirit and that psyche is another name for air/spirit/soul.
Michael J. Cohen (Reconnecting With Nature: Finding Wellness Through Restoring Your Bond With the Earth)
A storm-filled life replete with piercing and unearthly sounds ravages the soul of any thoughtful person. In contrast, the genteel wind of restoration moves silently, invisibly. Renewal is a spiritual process, the communal melody that sustains us. Inexpressible braids of tenderness whispering reciprocating chords of love for family, friends, humankind, and nature plaits interweaved layers of blissful atmosphere, which copious heart song brings spiritual rejuvenation. For when we love in a charitable and bountiful manner without reservation, liberated from petty jealously, and free of the toxic blot of discrimination, we become the ineluctable wind that vivifies the lives of other people. The mellifluous changes in heaven, earth, and our journey through the travails of time, while worshiping the trove of fathomless joys of life, constitute the seeds of universal poetry.
Kilroy J. Oldster (Dead Toad Scrolls)
You're innocent, Casaubon. You ran away instead of throwing stones, you got your degree, you didn't shoot anybody. Yet a few years ago I felt you, too, were blackmailing me. Nothing personal, just generational cycles. And then last year, when I saw the Pendulum, I understood everything." "Everything?" "Almost everything. You see, Casaubon, even the Pendulum is a false prophet. You look at it, you think it's the only fixed point in the cosmos. but if you detach it from the ceiling of the Conservatoire and hang it in a brothel, it works just the same. And there are other pendulums: there's one in New York, in the UN building, there's one in the science museum in San Francisco, and God knows how many others. Wherever you put it, Foucault's Pendulum swings from a motionless point while the earth rotates beneath it. Every point of the universe is a fixed point: all you have to do is hang the Pendulum from it." "God is everywhere." "In a sense, yes. That's why the Pendulum disturbs me. It promises the infinite, but where to put the infinite is left to me. So it isn't enough to worship the Pendulum; you still have to make a decision, you have to find the best point for it. And yet..." "And yet?" "And yet... You're not taking me seriously by any chance, are you, Casaubon? No, I can rest easy; we're not the type to take things seriously.... Well, as I was saying, the feeling you have is that you've spent a lifetime hanging the Pendulum in many paces, and it's never worked, but there, in the Conservatoire, it works.... Do you think there are special places in the universe? On the ceiling of this room, for example? No, nobody would believe that. You need atmosphere. I don't know, maybe we're always looking for the right place, maybe it's within reach, but we don't recognize it. Maybe, to recognize it, we have to believe in it. Well, let's go see Signor Garamond." "To hang the Pendulum?" "Ah, human folly! Now we have to be serious. If you are going to be paid, the boss must see you, touch you, sniff you, and say you'll do. Come, let the boss touch you; the boss's touch heals scrofula.
Umberto Eco (Foucault’s Pendulum)
And with distance in time it is the same as with distance in place. The imagination has its atmosphere and its sunlight as well as the earth has; only its mists are even more gorgeous and delicate, its aerial perspectives are even more wide and profound. It also transifgures and beautifies things in far more various ways. For the imagination is all senses in one; it is sight, it is smell, it is hearing; it is memory, regret, and passion. Everything goes to nourish it, from first love to literature - literature, which, for cultivated people, is the imagination's gastric juice.
William Hurrell Mallock (In An Enchanted Island: Or A Winter's Retreat In Cyprus)
At first you are awed by the splendour, by the beauty, of the planet and then you look down and you realize that this one planet is the only thing we have. Every time the sun comes up and goes down… and for us that’s sixteen times a day… you see a thin, thin, thin layer just above the surface, maybe 10 or 12 kilometres thick. That is the atmosphere of the Earth. That is it. Below that is life. Above it is nothing. JULIE PAYETTE, Canadian astronaut
David Suzuki (The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature)
IN 1953, STANLEY Miller, a graduate student at the University of Chicago, took two flasks—one containing a little water to represent a primeval ocean, the other holding a mixture of methane, ammonia, and hydrogen sulphide gases to represent Earth’s early atmosphere—connected them with rubber tubes, and introduced some electrical sparks as a stand-in for lightning. After a few days, the water in the flasks had turned green and yellow in a hearty broth of amino acids, fatty acids, sugars, and other organic compounds. “If God didn’t do it this way,” observed Miller’s delighted supervisor, the Nobel laureate Harold Urey, “He missed a good bet.
Bill Bryson (A Short History of Nearly Everything)
To a thoughtful biographer, [Ebling Mis's house] was "the symbolization of a retreat from a non-academic reality", a society columnist gushed silkily at its "frightfully masculine atmosphere of careless disorder", a University Ph.D called it brusquely, "bookish, but unorganized", a non-university friend said, "good for a drink anytime and you can put your feet on the sofa", and a breezy newsweekly broadcast, that went in for color, spoke of the "rooky, down-to-earth, no-nonsense living quarters of blaspheming, Leftish, balding Ebling Mis". To Bayta, who thought of no audience but herself at the moment, and who had the advantage of first-hand information, it was merely sloppy.
Isaac Asimov (Foundation and Empire (Foundation, #2))
We are children of the Earth, made of all the same elements and minerals. We contain mountains, rivers, stars, and black holes. In every moment of our life the cosmos is going through us, renewing us, and we are returning ourselves to the cosmos. We are breathing the atmosphere, eating the earth’s food, creating new ideas, and experiencing new feelings. And we are emitting energy back into the cosmos, in our thinking, speech, and actions, in our out-breath, in our body’s warmth, and in releasing everything we have consumed and digested. In this very moment many parts of us are returning to the earth. We don’t return to the earth and cosmos only when our body disintegrates. We are already inside the earth, and the earth is inside us.
Thich Nhat Hanh (The Art Of Living)
The most striking impression was that of an overwhelming bright light. I had seen under similar conditions the explosion of a large amount—100 tons—of normal explosives in the April test, and I was flabbergasted by the new spectacle. We saw the whole sky flash with unbelievable brightness in spite of the very dark glasses we wore. Our eyes were accommodated to darkness, and thus even if the sudden light had been only normal daylight it would have appeared to us much brighter than usual, but we know from measurements that the flash of the bomb was many times brighter than the sun. In a fraction of a second, at our distance, one received enough light to produce a sunburn. I was near Fermi at the time of the explosion, but I do not remember what we said, if anything. I believe that for a moment I thought the explosion might set fire to the atmosphere and thus finish the earth, even though I knew that this was not possible.
Emilio Segrè (Enrico Fermi, Physicist)
The knowledge both of the Poet and the Man of science is pleasure; but the knowledge of the one cleaves to us as a necessary part of our existence, our natural and unalienable inheritance; the other is a personal and individual acquisition, slow to come to us, and by no habitual and direct sympathy connecting us with our fellow-beings. The Man of science seeks truth as a remote and unknown benefactor; he cherishes and loves it in his solitude: the Poet, singing a song in which all human beings join with him, rejoices in the presence of truth as our visible friend and hourly companion. Poetry is the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge; it is the impassioned expression which is in the countenance of all Science. Emphatically may it be said of the Poet, as Shakespeare hath said of man, ‘that he looks before and after.’ He is the rock of defence for human nature; an upholder and preserver, carrying everywhere with him relationship and love. In spite of difference of soil and climate, of language and manners, of laws and customs: in spite of things silently gone out of mind, and things violently destroyed; the Poet binds together by passion and knowledge the vast empire of human society, as it is spread over the whole earth, and over all time. The objects of the Poet’s thoughts are everywhere; though the eyes and senses of man are, it is true, his favourite guides, yet he will follow wheresoever he can find an atmosphere of sensation in which to move his wings. Poetry is the first and last of all knowledge—it is as immortal as the heart of man.
William Wordsworth (Preface to the Lyrical Ballads)
Sometimes I think Earth has got to be the insane asylum of the universe. . . and I'm here by computer error. At sixty-eight, I hope I've gained some wisdom in the past fourteen lustrums and it’s obligatory to speak plain and true about the conclusions I've come to; now that I have been educated to believe by such mentors as Wells, Stapledon, Heinlein, van Vogt, Clarke, Pohl, (S. Fowler) Wright, Orwell, Taine, Temple, Gernsback, Campbell and other seminal influences in scientifiction, I regret the lack of any female writers but only Radclyffe Hall opened my eyes outside sci-fi. I was a secular humanist before I knew the term. I have not believed in God since childhood's end. I believe a belief in any deity is adolescent, shameful and dangerous. How would you feel, surrounded by billions of human beings taking Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy and the stork seriously, and capable of shaming, maiming or murdering in their name? I am embarrassed to live in a world retaining any faith in church, prayer or a celestial creator. I do not believe in Heaven, Hell or a Hereafter; in angels, demons, ghosts, goblins, the Devil, vampires, ghouls, zombies, witches, warlocks, UFOs or other delusions; and in very few mundane individuals--politicians, lawyers, judges, priests, militarists, censors and just plain people. I respect the individual's right to abortion, suicide and euthanasia. I support birth control. I wish to Good that society were rid of smoking, drinking and drugs. My hope for humanity - and I think sensible science fiction has a beneficial influence in this direction - is that one day everyone born will be whole in body and brain, will live a long life free from physical and emotional pain, will participate in a fulfilling way in their contribution to existence, will enjoy true love and friendship, will pity us 20th century barbarians who lived and died in an atrocious, anachronistic atmosphere of arson, rape, robbery, kidnapping, child abuse, insanity, murder, terrorism, war, smog, pollution, starvation and the other negative “norms” of our current civilization. I have devoted my life to amassing over a quarter million pieces of sf and fantasy as a present to posterity and I hope to be remembered as an altruist who would have been an accepted citizen of Utopia.
Forrest J. Ackerman
What has Capitalism resolved? It has solved no problems. It has looted the world. It has left us with all this poverty. It has created lifestyles and models of consumerism that are incompatible with reality. It has poisoned the waterways. Oceans, Rivers, Lakes, Seas, the Atmosphere, the Earth. It has produced an incredible waste of resources. I always cite one example; imagine every person in China owned a Car, or aspired to own a Car. Everyone of the 1.1 Billion people in China, or that everyone of the 800 million people in India wished to own a Car, this method, this lifestyle, and Africa did the same, and nearly 450 million Latin Americans did the same. How long would Oil last? How long would Natural Gas last? How long would natural resources last? What would be left of the Ozone layer? What would be left of Oxygen on Earth? What would happen with Carbon Dioxide? And all these phenomenon that are changing the ecology of our world, they are changing Earth, they are making life on our Planet more and more difficult all the time. What model has Capitalism given the world to follow? An example for societies to emulate? Shouldn’t we focus on more rational things, like the education of the whole population? Nutrition, health, a respectable lodging, an elevated culture? Would you say capitalism, with it’s blind laws, it’s selfishness as a fundamental principle, has given us something to emulate? Has it shown us a path forward? Is humanity going to travel on the course charted thus far? There may be talk of a crisis in socialism, but, today, there is an even greater crises in capitalism, with no end in sight.
Fidel Castro
Mountains have long been a geography for pilgrimage, place where people have been humbled and strengthened, they are symbols of the sacred center. Many have traveled to them in order to find the concentrated energy of Earth and to realize the strength of unimpeded space. Viewing a mountain at a distance or walking around its body we can see its shape, know its profile, survey its surrounds. The closer you come to the mountain the more it disappears, the mountain begins to lose its shape as you near it, its body begins to spread out over the landscape losing itself to itself. On climbing the mountain the mountain continues to vanish. It vanishes in the detail of each step, its crown is buried in space, its body is buried in the breath. On reaching the mountain summit we can ask, “What has been attained?” - The top of the mountain? Big view? But the mountain has already disappeared. Going down the mountain we can ask, “What has been attained?” Going down the mountain the closer we are to the mountain the more the mountain disappears, the closer we are to the mountain the more the mountain is realized. Mountain’s realization comes through the details of the breath, mountain appears in each step. Mountain then lives inside our bones, inside our heart-drum. It stands like a huge mother in the atmosphere of our minds. Mountain draws ancestors together in the form of clouds. Heaven, Earth and human meet in the raining of the past. Heaven, Earth and human meet in the winds of the future. Mountain mother is a birth gate that joins the above and below, she is a prayer house, she is a mountain. Mountain is a mountain.
Joan Halifax (The Fruitful Darkness: A Journey Through Buddhist Practice and Tribal Wisdom)
Look," Steven said, pointing at the sky. The stars were out in droves. One, far in the distance, was particularly bright. It flickered, then seemed to go out altogether before returning even brighter than before. "That's them, isn't it?" she said. "The Fall?" "Yes," Francesca said. "That's it. It looks just like the old texts say it would." "It was just"-Luce furrowed her brow, squinting-"I can only see it when I-" "Concentrate," Cam ordered. "What's happening to it?" Luce asked. "It is coming into being in this world," Daniel said. "It wasn't the physical transit from Heaven to Earth that took nine days. It was the shift from a Heavenly realm to an Earthly one. When we landed here, our bodies were...different. We became different. That took time." "Now time is taking us," Roland said, looking at the golden pocket watch that Dee must have given him before she died. "Then it is time for us to go," Daniel said to Luce. "Up there?" "Yes, we must soar up to meet them. We will fly right up to the limits of the Fall, and then you-" "I have to stop him?" "Yes." She closed her eyes thought back to the way Lucifer had looked at her in the Meadow. He looked like he wanted to crush every speck of tenderness there was. "I think I know how." "I told you she would say that!" Arriane whooped. Daniel pulled her close. "Are you sure?" She kissed him, never surer. "I just got my wings back, Daniel. I'm not going to let Lucifer take them away." So Luce and Daniel said goodbye to their friends, reached for each other's hands, and took off into the night. They flew upward forever, through the thinnest outer skin of the atmosphere, through a film of light at the edge of space.
Lauren Kate (Rapture (Fallen, #4))
Emerging, as we had, from the dark and gloomy bowels of the earth, the scene before us presented a view of wondrous beauty, and, while doubtless enhanced by contrast, it was nevertheless such an aspect as is seldom given to the eyes, of a Barsoomian of today to view. To me it seemed a little garden spot upon a dying world preserved from an ancient era when Barsoom was young and meteorological conditions were such as to favor the growth of vegetation that has since become extinct over practically the entire area of the planet. In this deep valley, surrounded by lofty cliffs, the atmosphere doubtless was considerably denser than upon the surface of the planet above. The sun's days were reflected by the lofty escarpment, which must also hold the heat during the colder periods of night, and, in addition to this, there was ample water for irrigation which nature might easily have achieved through percolation of the waters of the river through and beneath the top soil of the valley.
Edgar Rice Burroughs (A Fighting Man of Mars (Barsoom, #7))
Blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, were the first photosynthesizers. They breathed in carbon dioxide and breathed out oxygen. Oxygen is a volatile gas; it causes iron to rust (oxidation) and wood to burn (vigorous oxidation). When cyanobacteria first appeared, the oxygen they breathed out was toxic to nearly all other forms of life. The resulting extinction is called the oxygen catastrophe. After the cyanobacteria pumped Earth’s atmosphere and water full of toxic oxygen, creatures evolved that took advantage of the gas’s volatile nature to enable new biological processes. We are the descendants of those first oxygen-breathers. Many details of this history remain uncertain; the world of a billion years ago is difficult to reconstruct.
Randall Munroe (What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions)
For reasons I do not entirely understand, the clerisy after 1848 turned toward nationalism and socialism, and against liberalism, and came also to delight in an ever-expanding list of pessimisms about the way we live now in our approximately liberal societies, from the lack of temperance among the poor to an excess of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Antiliberal utopias believed to offset the pessimisms have been popular among the clerisy. Its pessimistic and utopian books have sold millions. But the twentieth-century experiments of nationalism and socialism, of syndicalism in factories and central planning for investment, of proliferating regulation for imagined but not factually documented imperfections in the market, did not work. And most of the pessimisms about how we live now have proven to be mistaken. It is a puzzle. Perhaps you yourself still believe in nationalism or socialism or proliferating regulation. And perhaps you are in the grip of pessimism about growth or consumerism or the environment or inequality. Please, for the good of the wretched of the earth, reconsider.
Deirdre Nansen McCloskey (Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World)
An asteroid or comet traveling at cosmic velocities would enter the Earth’s atmosphere at such a speed that the air beneath it couldn’t get out of the way and would be compressed, as in a bicycle pump. As anyone who has used such a pump knows, compressed air grows swiftly hot, and the temperature below it would rise to some 60,000 Kelvin, or ten times the surface temperature of the Sun. In this instant of its arrival in our atmosphere, everything in the meteor’s path—people, houses, factories, cars—would crinkle and vanish like cellophane in a flame. One second after entering the atmosphere, the meteorite would slam into the Earth’s surface, where the people of Manson had a moment before been going about their business. The meteorite itself would vaporize instantly, but the blast would blow out a thousand cubic kilometers of rock, earth, and superheated gases. Every living thing within 150 miles that hadn’t been killed by the heat of entry would now be killed by the blast. Radiating outward at almost the speed of light would be the initial shock wave, sweeping everything before it. For those outside the zone of immediate devastation, the first inkling of catastrophe would be a flash of blinding light—the brightest ever seen by human eyes—followed an instant to a minute or two later by an apocalyptic sight of unimaginable grandeur: a roiling wall of darkness reaching high into the heavens, filling an entire field of view and traveling at thousands of miles an hour. Its approach would be eerily silent since it would be moving far beyond the speed of sound. Anyone in a tall building in Omaha or Des Moines, say, who chanced to look in the right direction would see a bewildering veil of turmoil followed by instantaneous oblivion. Within minutes, over an area stretching from Denver to Detroit and encompassing what had once been Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, the Twin Cities—the whole of the Midwest, in short—nearly every standing thing would be flattened or on fire, and nearly every living thing would be dead. People up to a thousand miles away would be knocked off their feet and sliced or clobbered by a blizzard of flying projectiles. Beyond a thousand miles the devastation from the blast would gradually diminish. But that’s just the initial shockwave. No one can do more than guess what the associated damage would be, other than that it would be brisk and global. The impact would almost certainly set off a chain of devastating earthquakes. Volcanoes across the globe would begin to rumble and spew. Tsunamis would rise up and head devastatingly for distant shores. Within an hour, a cloud of blackness would cover the planet, and burning rock and other debris would be pelting down everywhere, setting much of the planet ablaze. It has been estimated that at least a billion and a half people would be dead by the end of the first day. The massive disturbances to the ionosphere would knock out communications systems everywhere, so survivors would have no idea what was happening elsewhere or where to turn. It would hardly matter. As one commentator has put it, fleeing would mean “selecting a slow death over a quick one. The death toll would be very little affected by any plausible relocation effort, since Earth’s ability to support life would be universally diminished.
Bill Bryson (A Short History of Nearly Everything)
To say that the frozen silence contracted itself into a yet higher globe of ice were to under-rate the exquisite tension and to shroud it in words. The atmosphere had become a physical sensation. As when, before a masterpiece, the acid throat contracts, and words are millstones, so when the supernaturally outlandish happens and a masterpiece is launched through the medium of human gesture, then all human volition is withered at the source and the heart of action stops beating. Such a moment was this. Irma, a stalagmite of crimson stone, knew, for all the riot of her veins that a page had turned over. At chapter forty? O no! At chapter one, for she had never lived before save in a pulseless preface. How long did they remain thus? How many times had the earth moved round the sun? How many times had the great blue whales of the northern waters risen to spurt their fountains at the sky? How many reed-bucks had fallen to the claws of how many leopards, while that sublime unit of two-figure statuary remained motionless? It is fruitless to ask. The clocks of the world stood still or should have done.
Mervyn Peake (Gormenghast (Gormenghast, #2))
As humans, our territory is on land. If we were meant to control the skies, we would have been given wings, and if we were meant to control the seas and oceans, we would have been designed to breathe underwater. The Creator created for us many natural water sources: lakes, ponds, rivers, springs, and streams — so that we would not tamper with the seas or oceans. This is why there is salt in the them, so we do not drink from them, or bother the huge creatures he put there to control the food chain. The salt content found in huge bodies of water is extremely vital to the elevation and balancing of the earth. This can be explained through basic physics or metaphysics. At the same time, wild creatures were also placed in jungles and forests to keep humans out of them. Plants are vital to purifying the atmosphere, and many wild animals rely on them as their food and medicine. Had the Creator not placed animals like tigers, wolves, bears, and other big creatures in untamed regions which are intended to remain inhabited, he knew that mankind would take over those areas — leaving nothing for the animals.
Suzy Kassem (Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem)
Night-time, regarded as a separate sphere of creation, is a universe in itself. The material nature of man, upon which philosophers tell us that a column of air forty-five miles in height continually presses, is wearied out at night, sinks into lassitude, lies down, and finds repose. The eyes of the flesh are closed; but in that drooping head, less inactive than is supposed, other eyes are opened. The unknown reveals itself. The shadowy existences of the invisible world become more akin to man; whether it be that there is a real communication, or whether things far off in the unfathomable abyss are mysteriously brought nearer, it seems as if the impalpable creatures inhabiting space come then to contemplate our natures, curious to comprehend the denizens of the earth. Some phantom creation ascends or descends to walk beside us in the dim twilight: some existence altogether different from our own, composed partly of human consciousness, partly of something else, quits his fellows and returns again, after presenting himself for a moment to our inward sight; and the sleeper, not wholly slumbering, nor yet entirely conscious, beholds around him strange manifestations of life—pale spectres, terrible or smiling, dismal phantoms, uncouth masks, unknown faces, hydra-headed monsters, undefined shapes, reflections of moonlight where there is no moon, vague fragments of monstrous forms. All these things which come and go in the troubled atmosphere of sleep, and to which men give the name of dreams, are, in truth, only realities invisible to those who walk about the daylight world. The dream-world is the Aquarium of Night.
Victor Hugo (The Toilers of the Sea)
Socially, too, we have seen a defiant Promethianism that is basically innocuous: the confident power that can catapult man to the moon and free him somewhat of his complete dependence and confinement on earth-at least in his imagination. The ugly side of this Promethianism is that it, too, is thoughtless, an empty-headed immersion in the delights of technics with not thought to goals or meaning; so man performs on the moon by hitting golf balls that do not swerve in the lack of atmosphere. The technical triumph of a versatile ape, as the makers of the film 2001 so chillingly conveyed to us. On more ominous levels, as we shall develop later on, modern man's defiance of accident, evil, and death takes the form of sky-rocketing production of consumer and military goods. Carried to its demonic extreme this defiance gave us Hitler and Vietnam: a rage against our impotence, a defiance of our animal condition, our pathetic creature limitations. If we don't have the omnipotence of gods, we at least can destroy like gods.
Ernest Becker (The Denial of Death)
[“... ] Once, I remember, we came upon a man-of-war anchored off the coast. There wasn't even a shed there, and she was shelling the bush. It appears the French had one of their wars going on thereabouts. Her ensign dropped limp like a rag; the muzzles of the long six-inch guns stuck out all over the low hull; the greasy, slimy swell swung her up lazily and let her down, swaying her thin masts. In the empty immensity of earth, sky, and water, there she was, incomprehensible, firing into a continent. Pop, would go one of the six-inch guns; a small flame would dart and vanish, a little white smoke would disappear, a tiny projectile would give a feeble screech—and nothing happened. Nothing could happen. There was a touch of insanity in the proceeding, a sense of lugubrious drollery in the sight; and it was not dissipated by somebody on board assuring me earnestly there was a camp of natives—he called them enemies!—hidden out of sight somewhere. "We gave her her letters (I heard the men in that lonely ship were dying of fever at the rate of three a day) and went on. We called at some more places with farcical names, where the merry dance of death and trade goes on in a still and earthy atmosphere as of an overheated catacomb; all along the formless coast bordered by dangerous surf, as if Nature herself had tried to ward off intruders; in and out of rivers, streams of death in life, whose banks were rotting into mud, whose waters, thickened into slime, invaded the contorted mangroves, that seemed to writhe at us in the extremity of an impotent despair. Nowhere did we stop long enough to get a particularized impression, but the general sense of vague and oppressive wonder grew upon me. It was like a weary pilgrimage amongst hints for nightmares. [..."]
Joseph Conrad (Heart of Darkness)
I had dropped more or less by chance into the only community of any size in Western Europe where political consciousness and disbelief in capitalism were more normal than their opposites. Up here in Aragon one was among tens of thousands of people, mainly though not entirely of working-class origin, all living at the same level and mingling on terms of equality. In theory it was perfect equality, and even in practice it was not far from it. There is a sense in which it would be true to say that one was experiencing a foretaste of Socialism, by which I mean that the prevailing mental atmosphere was that of Socialism. Many of the normal motives of civilized life — snobbishness, money-grubbing, fear of the boss, etc. — had simply ceased to exist. The ordinary class-division of society had disappeared to an extent that is almost unthinkable in the money-tainted air of England; there was no one there except the peasants and ourselves, and no one owned anyone else as his master. Of course such a state of affairs could not last. It was simply a temporary and local phase in an enormous game that is being played over the whole surface of the earth. But it lasted long enough to have its effect upon anyone who experienced it. However much one cursed at the time, one realized afterwards that one had been in contact with something strange and valuable. One had been in a community where hope was more normal than apathy or cynicism, where the word ‘comrade’ stood for comradeship and not, as in most countries, for humbug. One had breathed the air of equality. I am well aware that it is now the fashion to deny that Socialism has anything to do with equality. In every country in the world a huge tribe of party-hacks and sleek little professors are busy ‘proving’ that Socialism means no more than a planned state-capitalism with the grab-motive left intact. But fortunately there also exists a vision of Socialism quite different from this.
George Orwell (Homage to Catalonia)
All my life I have wondered about the possibility of life elsewhere. What would it be like? Of what would it be made? All living things on our planet are constructed of organic molecules—complex microscopic architectures in which the carbon atom plays a central role. There was once a time before life, when the Earth was barren and utterly desolate. Our world is now overflowing with life. How did it come about? How, in the absence of life, were carbon-based organic molecules made? How did the first living things arise? How did life evolve to produce beings as elaborate and complex as we, able to explore the mystery of our own origins? And on the countless other planets that may circle other suns, is there life also? Is extraterrestrial life, if it exists, based on the same organic molecules as life on Earth? Do the beings of other worlds look much like life on Earth? Or are they stunningly different—other adaptations to other environments? What else is possible? The nature of life on Earth and the search for life elsewhere are two sides of the same question—the search for who we are. In the great dark between the stars there are clouds of gas and dust and organic matter. Dozens of different kinds of organic molecules have been found there by radio telescopes. The abundance of these molecules suggests that the stuff of life is everywhere. Perhaps the origin and evolution of life is, given enough time, a cosmic inevitability. On some of the billions of planets in the Milky Way Galaxy, life may never arise. On others, it may arise and die out, or never evolve beyond its simplest forms. And on some small fraction of worlds there may develop intelligences and civilizations more advanced than our own. Occasionally someone remarks on what a lucky coincidence it is that the Earth is perfectly suitable for life—moderate temperatures, liquid water, oxygen atmosphere, and so on. But this is, at least in part, a confusion of cause and effect. We earthlings are supremely well adapted to the environment of the Earth because we grew up here. Those earlier forms of life that were not well adapted died. We are descended from the organisms that did well. Organisms that evolve on a quite different world will doubtless sing its praises too. All life on Earth is closely related. We have a common organic chemistry and a common evolutionary heritage. As a result, our biologists are profoundly limited. They study only a single kind of biology, one lonely theme in the music of life. Is this faint and reedy tune the only voice for thousands of light-years? Or is there a kind of cosmic fugue, with themes and counterpoints, dissonances and harmonies, a billion different voices playing the life music of the Galaxy? Let
Carl Sagan (Cosmos)
The official record for the fastest manmade object is the Helios 2 probe, which reached about 70 km/s in a close swing around the Sun. But it’s possible the actual holder of that title is a two-ton metal manhole cover. The cover sat atop a shaft at an underground nuclear test site operated by Los Alamos as part of Operation Plumbbob. When the 1-kiloton nuke went off below, the facility effectively became a nuclear potato cannon, giving the cap a gigantic kick. A high-speed camera trained on the lid caught only one frame of it moving upward before it vanished—which means it was moving at a minimum of 66 km/s. The cap was never found. Now, 66 km/s is about six times escape velocity, but contrary to common speculation, it’s unlikely the cap ever reached space. Newton’s impact depth approximation suggests that it was either destroyed completely by impact with the air or slowed and fell back to Earth. When we turn it back on, our reactivated hair dryer box, bobbing in lake water, undergoes a similar process. The heated steam below it expands outward, and as the box rises into the air, the entire surface of the lake turns to steam. The steam, heated to a plasma by the flood of radiation, accelerates the box faster and faster. Photo courtesy of Commander Hadfield Rather than slam into the atmosphere like the manhole cover, the box flies through a bubble of expanding plasma that offers little resistance. It exits the atmosphere and continues away, slowly fading from second sun to dim star. Much of the Northwest Territories is burning, but the Earth has survived.
Randall Munroe (What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions)
In a 2007 cable about Nauru, made public by WikiLeaks, an unnamed U.S. official summed up his government’s analysis of what went wrong on the island: “Nauru simply spent extravagantly, never worrying about tomorrow.” Fair enough, but that diagnosis is hardly unique to Nauru; our entire culture is extravagantly drawing down finite resources, never worrying about tomorrow. For a couple of hundred years we have been telling ourselves that we can dig the midnight black remains of other life forms out of the bowels of the earth, burn them in massive quantities, and that the airborne particles and gases released into the atmosphere - because we can’t see them - will have no effect whatsoever. Or if they do, we humans, brilliant as we are, will just invent our way out of whatever mess we have made. And we tell ourselves all kinds of similarly implausible no-consequences stories all the time, about how we can ravage the world and suffer no adverse effects. Indeed we are always surprised when it works out otherwise. We extract and do not replenish and wonder why the fish have disappeared and the soil requires ever more “inputs” (like phosphate) to stay fertile. We occupy countries and arm their militias and then wonder why they hate us. We drive down wages, ship jobs overseas, destroy worker protections, hollow out local economies, then wonder why people can’t afford to shop as much as they used to. We offer those failed shoppers subprime mortgages instead of steady jobs and then wonder why no one foresaw that a system built on bad debts would collapse. At every stage our actions are marked by a lack of respect for the powers we are unleashing - a certainty, or at least a hope, that the nature we have turned to garbage, and the people we have treated like garbage, will not come back to haunt us.
Naomi Klein (This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate)
Ode to the West Wind I O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being, Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing, Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red, Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou, Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low, Each like a corpse within its grave, until Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow Her clarion o’er the dreaming earth, and fill (Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air) With living hues and odours plain and hill: Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere; Destroyer and preserver; hear, oh hear! II Thou on whose stream, mid the steep sky’s commotion, Loose clouds like earth’s decaying leaves are shed, Shook from the tangled boughs of Heaven and Ocean, Angels of rain and lightning: there are spread On the blue surface of thine aëry surge, Like the bright hair uplifted from the head Of some fierce Maenad, even from the dim verge Of the horizon to the zenith’s height, The locks of the approaching storm. Thou dirge Of the dying year, to which this closing night Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre, Vaulted with all thy congregated might Of vapours, from whose solid atmosphere Black rain, and fire, and hail will burst: oh hear! III Thou who didst waken from his summer dreams The blue Mediterranean, where he lay, Lull’d by the coil of his crystàlline streams, Beside a pumice isle in Baiae’s bay, And saw in sleep old palaces and towers Quivering within the wave’s intenser day, All overgrown with azure moss and flowers So sweet, the sense faints picturing them! Thou For whose path the Atlantic’s level powers Cleave themselves into chasms, while far below The sea-blooms and the oozy woods which wear The sapless foliage of the ocean, know Thy voice, and suddenly grow gray with fear, And tremble and despoil themselves: oh hear! IV If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear; If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee; A wave to pant beneath thy power, and share The impulse of thy strength, only less free Than thou, O uncontrollable! If even I were as in my boyhood, and could be The comrade of thy wanderings over Heaven, As then, when to outstrip thy skiey speed Scarce seem’d a vision; I would ne’er have striven As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need. Oh, lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud! I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed! A heavy weight of hours has chain’d and bow’d One too like thee: tameless, and swift, and proud. V Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is: What if my leaves are falling like its own! The tumult of thy mighty harmonies Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone, Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce, My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one! Drive my dead thoughts over the universe Like wither’d leaves to quicken a new birth! And, by the incantation of this verse, Scatter, as from an unextinguish’d hearth Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind! Be through my lips to unawaken’d earth The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind, If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?
Percy Bysshe Shelley (Ode to the West Wind and Other Poems)
Most intellectuals and most artists belong to the same type. Only the strongest of them force their way through the atmosphere of the bourgeois earth and attain to the cosmic. The others all resign themselves or make compromises. Despising the bourgeoisie, and yet belonging to it, they add to its strength and glory; for in the last resort they have to share their beliefs in order to live. The lives of these infinitely numerous persons make no claim to the tragic; but they live under an evil star in a quite considerable affliction; and in this hell their talents ripen and bear fruit. The few who break free seek their reward in the unconditioned and go down in splendor. They wear the thorn crown and their number is small. The others, however, who remain in the fold and from whose talents the bourgeoisie reaps much gain, have a third kingdom left open to them, an imaginary and yet a sovereign world, humor. The lone wolves who know no peace, these victims of unceasing pain to whom the urge for tragedy has been denied and who can never break through the starry space,who feel themselves summoned thither and yet cannot survive in its atmosphere—for them is reserved, provided suffering has made their spirits tough and elastic enough, a way of reconcilement and an escape into humor. Humor has always something bourgeois in it, although the true bourgeois is incapable of understanding it. In its imaginary realm the intricate and manyfaceted ideal of all Steppenwolves finds its realisation. Here it is possible not only to extol the saint and the profligate in one breath and to make the poles meet, but to include the bourgeois, too, in the same affirmation. Now it is possible to be possessed by God and to affirm the sinner, and vice versa, but it is not possible for either saint or sinner (or for any other of the unconditioned) to affirm as well that lukewarm mean, the bourgeois. Humor alone, that magnificent discovery of those who are cut short in their calling to highest endeavor, those who falling short of tragedy are yet as rich in gifts as in affliction, humor alone (perhaps the most inborn and brilliant achievement of the spirit) attains to the impossible and brings every aspect of human existence within the rays of its prism. To live in the world as though it were not the world, to respect the law and yet to stand above it, to have possessions as though "one possessed nothing," to renounce as though it were no renunciation, all these favorite and often formulated propositions of an exalted worldly wisdom, it is in the power of humor alone to make efficacious.
Hermann Hesse
Adding carbon dioxide, or any other greenhouse gas, to the atmosphere by, say, burning fossil fuels or leveling forests is, in the language of climate science, an anthropogenic forcing. Since preindustrial times, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has risen by roughly a third, from 280 to 378 parts per million. During the same period, the concentration of methane has more than doubled, from .78 to 1.76 parts per million. Scientists measure forcings in terms of watts per square meter, or w/m2, by which they mean that a certain number of watts have been added (or, in the case of a negative forcing, like aerosols, subtracted) for every single square meter of the earth’s surface. The size of the greenhouse forcing is estimated, at this point, to be 2.5 w/m2. A miniature Christmas light gives off about four tenths of a watt of energy, mostly in the form of heat, so that, in effect (as Sophie supposedly explained to Connor), we have covered the earth with tiny bulbs, six for every square meter. These bulbs are burning twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, year in and year out. If greenhouse gases were held constant at today’s levels, it is estimated that it would take several decades for the full impact of the forcing that is already in place to be felt. This is because raising the earth’s temperature involves not only warming the air and the surface of the land but also melting sea ice, liquefying glaciers, and, most significant, heating the oceans, all processes that require tremendous amounts of energy. (Imagine trying to thaw a gallon of ice cream or warm a pot of water using an Easy-Bake oven.) The delay that is built into the system is, in a certain sense, fortunate. It enables us, with the help of climate models, to foresee what is coming and therefore to prepare for it. But in another sense it is clearly disastrous, because it allows us to keep adding CO2 to the atmosphere while fobbing the impacts off on our children and grandchildren.
Elizabeth Kolbert (Field Notes from a Catastrophe)
Have you ever been in a place where history becomes tangible? Where you stand motionless, feeling time and importance press around you, press into you? That was how I felt the first time I stood in the astronaut garden at OCA PNW. Is it still there? Do you know it? Every OCA campus had – has, please let it be has – one: a circular enclave, walled by smooth white stone that towered up and up until it abruptly cut off, definitive as the end of an atmosphere, making room for the sky above. Stretching up from the ground, standing in neat rows and with an equally neat carpet of microclover in between, were trees, one for every person who’d taken a trip off Earth on an OCA rocket. It didn’t matter where you from, where you trained, where your spacecraft launched. When someone went up, every OCA campus planted a sapling. The trees are an awesome sight, but bear in mind: the forest above is not the garden’s entry point. You enter from underground. I remember walking through a short tunnel and into a low-lit domed chamber that possessed nothing but a spiral staircase leading upward. The walls were made of thick glass, and behind it was the dense network you find below every forest. Roots interlocking like fingers, with gossamer fungus sprawled symbiotically between, allowing for the peaceful exchange of carbon and nutrients. Worms traversed roads of their own making. Pockets of water and pebbles decorated the scene. This is what a forest is, after all. Don’t believe the lie of individual trees, each a monument to its own self-made success. A forest is an interdependent community. Resources are shared, and life in isolation is a death sentence. As I stood contemplating the roots, a hidden timer triggered, and the lights faded out. My breath went with it. The glass was etched with some kind of luminescent colourant, invisible when the lights were on, but glowing boldly in the dark. I moved closer, and I saw names – thousands upon thousands of names, printed as small as possible. I understood what I was seeing without being told. The idea behind Open Cluster Astronautics was simple: citizen-funded spaceflight. Exploration for exploration’s sake. Apolitical, international, non-profit. Donations accepted from anyone, with no kickbacks or concessions or promises of anything beyond a fervent attempt to bring astronauts back from extinction. It began in a post thread kicked off in 2052, a literal moonshot by a collective of frustrated friends from all corners – former thinkers for big names gone bankrupt, starry-eyed academics who wanted to do more than teach the past, government bureau members whose governments no longer existed. If you want to do good science with clean money and clean hands, they argued, if you want to keep the fire burning even as flags and logos came down, if you understand that space exploration is best when it’s done in the name of the people, then the people are the ones who have to make it happen.
Becky Chambers (To Be Taught, If Fortunate)
About 4.6 billion years ago, a great swirl of gas and dust some 15 billion miles across accumulated in space where we are now and began to aggregate. Virtually all of it—99.9 percent of the mass of the solar system—went to make the Sun. Out of the floating material that was left over, two microscopic grains floated close enough together to be joined by electrostatic forces. This was the moment of conception for our planet. All over the inchoate solar system, the same was happening. Colliding dust grains formed larger and larger clumps. Eventually the clumps grew large enough to be called planetesimals. As these endlessly bumped and collided, they fractured or split or recombined in endless random permutations, but in every encounter there was a winner, and some of the winners grew big enough to dominate the orbit around which they traveled. It all happened remarkably quickly. To grow from a tiny cluster of grains to a baby planet some hundreds of miles across is thought to have taken only a few tens of thousands of years. In just 200 million years, possibly less, the Earth was essentially formed, though still molten and subject to constant bombardment from all the debris that remained floating about. At this point, about 4.5 billion years ago, an object the size of Mars crashed into Earth, blowing out enough material to form a companion sphere, the Moon. Within weeks, it is thought, the flung material had reassembled itself into a single clump, and within a year it had formed into the spherical rock that companions us yet. Most of the lunar material, it is thought, came from the Earth’s crust, not its core, which is why the Moon has so little iron while we have a lot. The theory, incidentally, is almost always presented as a recent one, but in fact it was first proposed in the 1940s by Reginald Daly of Harvard. The only recent thing about it is people paying any attention to it. When Earth was only about a third of its eventual size, it was probably already beginning to form an atmosphere, mostly of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, methane, and sulfur. Hardly the sort of stuff that we would associate with life, and yet from this noxious stew life formed. Carbon dioxide is a powerful greenhouse gas. This was a good thing because the Sun was significantly dimmer back then. Had we not had the benefit of a greenhouse effect, the Earth might well have frozen over permanently, and life might never have gotten a toehold. But somehow life did. For the next 500 million years the young Earth continued to be pelted relentlessly by comets, meteorites, and other galactic debris, which brought water to fill the oceans and the components necessary for the successful formation of life. It was a singularly hostile environment and yet somehow life got going. Some tiny bag of chemicals twitched and became animate. We were on our way. Four billion years later people began to wonder how it had all happened. And it is there that our story next takes us.
Bill Bryson (A Short History of Nearly Everything)
A True Account Of Talking To The Sun On Fire Island" The Sun woke me this morning loud and clear, saying "Hey! I've been trying to wake you up for fifteen minutes. Don't be so rude, you are only the second poet I've ever chosen to speak to personally so why aren't you more attentive? If I could burn you through the window I would to wake you up. I can't hang around here all day." "Sorry, Sun, I stayed up late last night talking to Hal." "When I woke up Mayakovsky he was a lot more prompt" the Sun said petulantly. "Most people are up already waiting to see if I'm going to put in an appearance." I tried to apologize "I missed you yesterday." "That's better" he said. "I didn't know you'd come out." "You may be wondering why I've come so close?" "Yes" I said beginning to feel hot wondering if maybe he wasn't burning me anyway. "Frankly I wanted to tell you I like your poetry. I see a lot on my rounds and you're okay. You may not be the greatest thing on earth, but you're different. Now, I've heard some say you're crazy, they being excessively calm themselves to my mind, and other crazy poets think that you're a boring reactionary. Not me. Just keep on like I do and pay no attention. You'll find that people always will complain about the atmosphere, either too hot or too cold too bright or too dark, days too short or too long. If you don't appear at all one day they think you're lazy or dead. Just keep right on, I like it. And don't worry about your lineage poetic or natural. The Sun shines on the jungle, you know, on the tundra the sea, the ghetto. Wherever you were I knew it and saw you moving. I was waiting for you to get to work. And now that you are making your own days, so to speak, even if no one reads you but me you won't be depressed. Not everyone can look up, even at me. It hurts their eyes." "Oh Sun, I'm so grateful to you!" "Thanks and remember I'm watching. It's easier for me to speak to you out here. I don't have to slide down between buildings to get your ear. I know you love Manhattan, but you ought to look up more often. And always embrace things, people earth sky stars, as I do, freely and with the appropriate sense of space. That is your inclination, known in the heavens and you should follow it to hell, if necessary, which I doubt. Maybe we'll speak again in Africa, of which I too am specially fond. Go back to sleep now Frank, and I may leave a tiny poem in that brain of yours as my farewell." "Sun, don't go!" I was awake at last. "No, go I must, they're calling me." "Who are they?" Rising he said "Some day you'll know. They're calling to you too." Darkly he rose, and then I slept.
Frank O'Hara
Five actors playing allotted parts on a set stage; and now he, for whom no part had been written, had walked onto the stage unexpectedly, because one of the players had turned rebel, as she had once before. He threw everything out of focus, and them into a fever. The heat and intensity of these flying questions was enough to make a man with even partially trained clairvoyant faculties feel as if he sat in a room filled with flashing fireflies. He took warning and withdrew himself to a cold inner isolation, as he knew how to do, even while laughing and talking with surface ease. It would not do to let his mind become clouded with emotion; or open any door of his imagination. But the impressions that came across that safer inner distance did not make his companions seem less dramatic, more normal: they were still out of focus. Something about the picture was distorted, even to a clear vision. The sense of evil was as strong as ever although the lurking Presence seemed to have retreated into a far background. He saw presently what the distortion was. Their modern figures were somehow incongruous in the old house, not at home. Like actors who had somehow got onto the wrong stage, onto sets with which their voices and costumes clashed. Interlopers. Or else-actors of an old school dressed up in an unbecoming masquerade. Witch House was an old house. Not old as other houses are old, that remain beds of the continuous stream of life, of marriages and births and deaths, of children crying and children laughing, where the past is only part of the pattern, root of the present and the future. Joseph de Quincy, dead nearly a quarter of a thousand years, was still its master: he had been strong, so strong that no later personality could dim or efface him here where he had set his seal. "He left his evil here when he could no longer stay himself," Carew thought. "As a man with diphtheria leaves germs on the things he has handled, the bed he has lain in. Thoughts are tangible things; on their own plane they breed like germs and, unlike germs, they do not die. He may have forgotten; he may even walk the earth in other flesh, but what he has left here lives." As probably it had been meant to do. For the man whose malignance, swollen with the contributions of the centuries, still ensouled these walls would not have cared to build a house or found a family except as a means to an end. Witch House was set like a mold, steeped in ritual atmosphere as a temple. Dangerous business, for who could say that such a temple would not find a god? There are low, non-human beings that coalesce with and feed on such leftover forces: lair in them.
Evangeline Walton (Witch House)
I am, reluctantly, a self-confessed carbon chauvinist. Carbon is abundant in the Cosmos. It makes marvelously complex molecules, good for life. I am also a water chauvinist. Water makes an ideal solvent system for organic chemistry to work in and stays liquid over a wide range of temperatures. But sometimes I wonder. Could my fondness for materials have something to do with the fact that I am made chiefly of them? Are we carbon- and water-based because those materials were abundant on the Earth at the time of the origin of life? Could life elsewhere—on Mars, say—be built of different stuff? I am a collection of water, calcium and organic molecules called Carl Sagan. You are a collection of almost identical molecules with a different collective label. But is that all? Is there nothing in here but molecules? Some people find this idea somehow demeaning to human dignity. For myself, I find it elevating that our universe permits the evolution of molecular machines as intricate and subtle as we. But the essence of life is not so much the atoms and simple molecules that make us up as the way in which they are put together. Every now and then we read that the chemicals which constitute the human body cost ninety-seven cents or ten dollars or some such figure; it is a little depressing to find our bodies valued so little. However, these estimates are for human beings reduced to our simplest possible components. We are made mostly of water, which costs almost nothing; the carbon is costed in the form of coal; the calcium in our bones as chalk; the nitrogen in our proteins as air (cheap also); the iron in our blood as rusty nails. If we did not know better, we might be tempted to take all the atoms that make us up, mix them together in a big container and stir. We can do this as much as we want. But in the end all we have is a tedious mixture of atoms. How could we have expected anything else? Harold Morowitz has calculated what it would cost to put together the correct molecular constituents that make up a human being by buying the molecules from chemical supply houses. The answer turns out to be about ten million dollars, which should make us all feel a little better. But even then we could not mix those chemicals together and have a human being emerge from the jar. That is far beyond our capability and will probably be so for a very long period of time. Fortunately, there are other less expensive but still highly reliable methods of making human beings. I think the lifeforms on many worlds will consist, by and large, of the same atoms we have here, perhaps even many of the same basic molecules, such as proteins and nucleic acids—but put together in unfamiliar ways. Perhaps organisms that float in dense planetary atmospheres will be very much like us in their atomic composition, except they might not have bones and therefore not need much calcium. Perhaps elsewhere some solvent other than water is used. Hydrofluoric acid might serve rather well, although there is not a great deal of fluorine in the Cosmos; hydrofluoric acid would do a great deal of damage to the kind of molecules that make us up, but other organic molecules, paraffin waxes, for example, are perfectly stable in its presence. Liquid ammonia would make an even better solvent system, because ammonia is very abundant in the Cosmos. But it is liquid only on worlds much colder than the Earth or Mars. Ammonia is ordinarily a gas on Earth, as water is on Venus. Or perhaps there are living things that do not have a solvent system at all—solid-state life, where there are electrical signals propagating rather than molecules floating about. But these ideas do not
Carl Sagan (Cosmos)
DEATH’S DIARY: THE PARISIANS Summer came. For the book thief, everything was going nicely. For me, the sky was the color of Jews. When their bodies had finished scouring for gaps in the door, their souls rose up. When their fingernails had scratched at the wood and in some cases were nailed into it by the sheer force of desperation, their spirits came toward me, into my arms, and we climbed out of those shower facilities, onto the roof and up, into eternity’s certain breadth. They just kept feeding me. Minute after minute. Shower after shower. I’ll never forget the first day in Auschwitz, the first time in Mauthausen. At that second place, as time wore on, I also picked them up from the bottom of the great cliff, when their escapes fell awfully awry. There were broken bodies and dead, sweet hearts. Still, it was better than the gas. Some of them I caught when they were only halfway down. Saved you, I’d think, holding their souls in midair as the rest of their being—their physical shells—plummeted to the earth. All of them were light, like the cases of empty walnuts. Smoky sky in those places. The smell like a stove, but still so cold. I shiver when I remember—as I try to de-realize it. I blow warm air into my hands, to heat them up. But it’s hard to keep them warm when the souls still shiver. God. I always say that name when I think of it. God. Twice, I speak it. I say His name in a futile attempt to understand. “But it’s not your job to understand.” That’s me who answers. God never says anything. You think you’re the only one he never answers? “Your job is to …” And I stop listening to me, because to put it bluntly, I tire me. When I start thinking like that, I become so exhausted, and I don’t have the luxury of indulging fatigue. I’m compelled to continue on, because although it’s not true for every person on earth, it’s true for the vast majority—that death waits for no man—and if he does, he doesn’t usually wait very long. On June 23, 1942, there was a group of French Jews in a German prison, on Polish soil. The first person I took was close to the door, his mind racing, then reduced to pacing, then slowing down, slowing down …. Please believe me when I tell you that I picked up each soul that day as if it were newly born. I even kissed a few weary, poisoned cheeks. I listened to their last, gasping cries. Their vanishing words. I watched their love visions and freed them from their fear. I took them all away, and if ever there was a time I needed distraction, this was it. In complete desolation, I looked at the world above. I watched the sky as it turned from silver to gray to the color of rain. Even the clouds were trying to get away. Sometimes I imagined how everything looked above those clouds, knowing without question that the sun was blond, and the endless atmosphere was a giant blue eye. They were French, they were Jews, and they were you.
Markus Zusak (The Book Thief)