Dreaming of Europa: imagining our place in the multiverse

Photography by George Payne

Europa

The full moon is so fierce that I can count the
coconuts’ cross-hatched shade on bungalows,
their white walls raging with insomnia.
The stars leak drop by drop on the tin plates
of the sea almonds, and the jeering clouds
are luminously rumpled as the sheets.
The surf, insatiably promiscuous,
groans through the walls; I feel my mind
whiten to moonlight, altering that form
which daylight unambiguously designed,
from a tree to a girl’s body bent in foam;
then, treading close, the black hump of a hill,
its nostrils softly snorting, nearing the
naked girl splashing her naked breasts with silver.
Both would have kept their proper distance still,
if the chaste moon hadn’t swiftly drawn the drapes
of a dark cloud, coupling their shapes.

She teases with those flashes, yes, but once
you yield to human horniness, you see
through all that moonshine what they really were,
those gods as seed-bulls, gods as rutting swans
an overheated farmhand’s literature.
Who ever saw her pale arms hook his horns,
her thighs clamped tight in their deep-plunging ride,
watched, in the hiss of the exhausted foam,
her white flesh constellate to phosphorous
as in salt darkness beast and woman come?
Nothing is there, just as it always was,
but the foam’s wedge to the horizon-light,
then, wire-thin, the studded armature,
like drops still quivering on his matted hide,
the hooves and horn-points anagrammed in stars.

–Derek Walcott, 1981

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Original Kodak print of the moon landing

Everything has a natural explanation. The moon is not a god, but a great rock, and the sun a hot rock.

Anaxagoras

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Empty space is a boiling, bubbling brew of virtual particles that pop in and out of existence in a time scale so short that you can’t even measure them.

Lawrence M. Krauss

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Buzz Aldrin
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Their Eyes are Watching God

I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.

Jack London

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Cast at Syracuse University
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Cast at Syracuse University

So many unjustified claims to superiority.

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Man is an artifact designed for space travel. He is not designed to remain in his present biologic state any more than a tadpole is designed to remain a tadpole.

William S. Burroughs

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Magna Ball in Watkins Glen

The Universe can be defined as everything that exists, everything that has existed, and everything that will exist.

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If the Sun and Moon should ever doubt, they’d immediately go out.

William Blake

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The word universe derives from the Old French word univers, which in turn derives from the Latin word universum

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Planetarium stargazing in Rochester

Modern science says: ‘The sun is the past, the earth is the present, the moon is the future.’ From an incandescent mass we have originated, and into a frozen mass we shall turn. Merciless is the law of nature, and rapidly and irresistibly we are drawn to our doom.

Nikola Tesla

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Life is the Life of Life
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Mohawk Shaman

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There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew.

Marshall McLuhan

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Strasenburgh Museum

What we observe as material bodies and forces are nothing but shapes and variations in the structure of space.

Erwin Schrodinger

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Building Blocks

Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.

Carl Sagan

humanism

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Stargazer

Carl Sagan was probably the most well-known scientist of the 1970s and 1980s. He studied extraterrestrial intelligence, advocated for nuclear disarmament, and co-wrote and hosted ‘Cosmos: A Personal Voyage.

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Finger Lakes Community College Honors Class

Space isn’t remote at all. It’s only an hour’s drive away if your car could go straight upwards.

Fred Hoyle

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Record Archive Chess Set

The modern era of physical cosmology began in 1917, when Albert Einstein first applied his general theory of relativity to model the structure and dynamics of the Universe.

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2016 World on Your Plate Conference

When many astronauts go to space, they see the insignificant size of the earth and vastness of space, and they become very religious, because they have seen the Signs of Allah.

Cat Stevens

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Mandala Stones (available at Calla Lillies in Sackets Harbor, NY)

Sometimes I think we’re alone in the universe, and sometimes I think we’re not. In either case the idea is quite staggering.

Arthur C. Clarke

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Ye stars! which are the poetry of heaven!

Lord Byron

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