It occurred to me the other day that science has had a singularly tiny effect on poetry. There are all kinds of arts that celebrate scientific principles, from mathematics to chemistry, physics, and even the glory biology.
But poets seem to be ignorant of the fact that there is no such thing as a sunrise or sunset.
Copernicus demonstrated, 500 years ago, that the sun doesn't rotate around the earth.
The appearance of the sun each morning is because of the earth's rotation. The sun doesn't "rise" or "set," but the earth revolves so that the eastern horizon continually drops in a direction that we see as the sun rising or falling.
This is to be expected of early poetry, since presumably, they didn't know about gravity.
Well, they obviously knew about gravity. I mean, they had fallen and many, like the passionate shepherd, had fallen in love. Without doubt, early poets had fallen in debt, and most had even fallen into ill repute. Yet basic planetary principles appear to have been simply ignored, even until the present day.
Revolutionary scientific principles from the time of Copernicus, Galileo and Newton have simply been ignored by poets. They have continued to ignore the fact that we are spinning on a planet, that is spiraling around a sun, that is whirling through a rotating solar system, that is hurtling through space toward some unknown destination.
Instead, they continue to speak of sunrises and sunsets when we have known for centuries that the earth's horizon is sinking towards the sun in its orbit.
If we could look up when we are down, we would see the daisies on the far side of the earth. If we looked down when we're up, we would see the stars.
Poets wax poetic about the wind in their true love's hair when they ought to be amazed that she is hanging onto the earth by the soles of her feet! She, or he, would realize how silly they appear when spouting such lines while upside down.
I suppose it is asking too much to expect literary types to acknowledge the basic realities of science.
On the other hand, maybe scientists need to acknowledge the difficulty of expressing great and sincere emotions in true scientific jargon. Is that because of a lack of sincerity or emotion?
As an experiment and as an amateur lyricist, I decided that I would try my hand at "Copernican poetry," thereby establishing a new revolutionary form of poetry. Pun intended.
A COPERNICAN POEM
'Twas early in the earth's turning which brings the sun to fullest view,
Looking up at the daisies above I discerned the grass was blue.
The solemn scene of the mountain still stretched out before
While the wind at a thousand miles per hour continued to roar
Circles within circles, something never done,
While sailing around the sun as the earth consistently spun
From the exalted position atop the opposite side,
I looked down on the galaxies not yet identified.
Young men, with challenge in their eyes, climbed the face of the sea
Clinging to the growing roots of an ancient tree
The prophet stood and announced the independence of man
While clinging to earth with his soles — a true anchorman.
Careening through space on a giant cannon ball
Invisible forces hold us fast by our own wherewithal
While the earth turns again carrying me from sun to moon,
The melancholy end of a pleasant afternoon
While the sea rises like a mountain of water — miles high,
And fish build nests far on the other side
In earlier, simple times, it was thought that the earth was hung by God from Heaven by a thread.
But even Job knew that, "He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing."
Since at least the time of Job, poets should have known better. I doubt poets will ever catch up to quantum mechanics.
Gary McCallister, firstname.lastname@example.org, is a professor emeritus of biological sciences at Colorado Mesa University.
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Budget deficit up $169 billion over 2018
WASHINGTON — The U.S. government's budget deficit increased by $169 billion to $1.07 trillion in the first 11 months of this budget year as spending grew faster than tax collections.
The Treasury Department reported Thursday that the deficit with just one month left in the budget year is up 18.8% over the same period a year ago.
Budget experts project a surplus for September, which would push the total 2019 deficit down slightly below the $1 trillion mark. The Congressional Budget Office is forecasting a deficit this year of $960 billion, compared to a 2018 deficit of $779 billion.
Going forward, the CBO sees the annual deficit topping $1 trillion in 2020 and never falling below $1 trillion over the next decade.
The government has only recorded trillion-dollar-plus deficits in one other period, during the four years 2009 through 2012 when spending went up to deal with a deep recession and the worst financial crisis since the 1930s.
Social Security and Medicare payments are surging now as millions of baby boomers retire.
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