Wednesday, October 07, 2009

New Bling For Saturn! (Galileo's Revenge)

When Galileo told the Pope
“Here, look into my telescope—
You’ll see much beauty there, I hope.”
His Holiness, the Pope, said “Nope.”

“Now kiss my ring, instead, and swear
That nothing of the sort is there—
I know you think it is not fair,
But I’m the Pope, as you’re aware.”

The Pope’s command was quite absurd,
But Galileo gave his word,
(Though some report him undeterred:
“E pur si muove” overheard.)

In hindsight now, with great delight,
We know, despite his Papal might,
That evidence would come to light
To prove the heretic was right.

With Urban’s ring already kissed,
The chance to get it right was missed,
Just one more error on the list—
But now, we find another twist!

What wonders will the cosmos bring?
Now Saturn sports another ring!
Much bigger than the Pope’s, this thing
Is interplanetary bling!

Four centuries have come to pass
Since Galileo ground his glass;
Far too much time for him, alas,
To tell the Pope to kiss his ass.

But now, the kids will learn in school:
That Saturn sports another jewel;
That telescopes are really cool;
One may be Pope, but still a fool.

I hope you will all, by now, have heard the very cool news: a new ring has been discovered around Saturn--a very different ring than any of the others; thicker, wider, in a different orientation than the other rings. The infrared imager on the Spitzer Space Telescope detected the faint image; the density of this ring equates to about 20 grains of material per cubic kilometer. You would not see it if you were standing in the middle of it; as Gertrude Stein said about Oakland, "when you get there, there isn't any there there." Once again, science and technology stretch the limits of what humankind can perceive... when we are willing to look through the eyepiece.



biopoet said...

Got a source for the poem?

BTW, Gerty's comment about Oakland is widely missunderstand. It expressess her wistfulness on returning home after a passage of years, to find that there was no 'there' to which you belonged, anymore.

"There was no 'there,' there"

Try it that way

Cuttlefish said...


Everything on this site, unless explicitly stated otherwise, is the product of my fevered brain and tired tentacles.

Thank you for the Stein info--it is a much more poignant quote that way, of course, and applying it to Saturn's new ring reminds me a bit of returning home from college one semester to find a "for sale" sign in the yard. I can't imagine returning home to find something like 20 grains per cubic kilometer...

John Flynn, Jr said...

This is pure win

Thinker said...

Related to this, have you heard of Galileoscope, the effort to donate telescopes to schools so more kids can experience the universe? This is part of the International Astronomy Year 2009, and resembles the "100 dollar PC" project, except the telescopes, with specifications similar to Galileo's but with better quality optics, will only cost $20. Here's a link:

They should include your poem with every telescope shipped!

yoyo said...

That was truly wonderful, congratulations. my 11 year old is learning it to recite at school.

Cuttlefish said...

Yoyo--seriously? The "tell the pope to kiss his ass" (or whatever I wrote) and all? You're gonna make me cry tears of happiness...

Cuttlefish said...

Ah! You are in Australia! She should have no problem! Let me know how it goes--maybe I can write a verse about her!

ivo said...

This is beautiful!

The (apparent?) ease with which you write poetry reminds me of Ariosto or Dante: those guys could think in rhyming "endecasillabi"... Maybe they dreamed in poetry too

Cuttlefish said...

Thank you, Ivo--that is such a nicer way of putting it than "obsessive-compulsive disorder". I do not deserve such praise, but I thank you for it nonetheless!

Shamar said...

Wow Cuttlefish!

I've been watching your blog for about a year now. I must say however, that this is one of your best. I love it :-)

Podblack said...

HA! Nice fail there Biopoet... :p :p

And congratulations for getting 'pharyngulated, Cuttle! :)