Someplace, one thing unimaginable is ready to be recognized.

— Carl Sagan

Past the spectral bandwidth of the rainbow, past ultraviolet and infrared frequencies — the visible magic of the cosmos resides. Science is factual — grounded and anchored in axioms. When one breaches the recognized boundaries, the marvel and poetry start to emerge.

I recall being taught the metaphysical poet John Donne’s iconic poem, The Solar Rising, in my college undergraduate class: “Busy outdated idiot, unruly solar, / Why dost thou thus, / Via home windows, and thru curtains name on us? / Should to thy motions lovers’ seasons run? / Saucy pedantic wretch, …” The poem presents an ironic twist, a recalibration of the outdated solar-system order: “Shine right here to us, and thou artwork in all places; / This mattress thy centre is, these partitions, thy sphere.”

Through the educating of this poem, all of the literary tropes have been mentioned and enunciated at nice size, however one important element was missed out — the explanation Donne wrote the poem within the first place. He’s mentioned to have composed it after he seen the cosmos anew via the lately invented Galilean telescope, an expertise that modified his perspective of the skies endlessly.

Carl Sagan’s fascinating 1970 and ‘80s grainy documentaries on house and the human physique first altered my very own views of the outer and interior cosmoses. A lot later, on the Bangalore-based Teleradiology Centre’s laboratory, I had entry to spectacular X-ray digital plates on high-definition giant screens. Human organs’ fractal buildings and patterns appeared as gorgeous artwork — auricles, ventricles, veins, arteries, aorta’s tree-like bonsai structure and their miniature magic. The wonder we see on the galactic scale is replicated on the microscopic stage, throughout the subatomic particles.

An extract from the poem Aorta Artwork, impressed by my go to:

“Onion-pink aorta transforms / crimson-red — tertiary twigs // cut up, as set up artwork revolves / on its axis. They pose as radiant natural sculptures, / … // … Coral-shaped aortas rotate 360° / in good Brownian movement // … // … sickness radiating interior magnificence — // hidden structure, looped, / dancing in secret helixes.”

Excessive-definition X-ray picture of an aorta


With technological developments in every age, the views alter and enhance as does our expertise — on the macro and micro stage. In 1608 and 1609, Hans Lipperhey and Thomas Harriot turned the primary telescopes skyward. Months later, Galileo Galilei started to make use of the telescope for work for which he would come to be referred to as the “father of observational astronomy”. He had made enhancements to Lipperhey’s authentic model; the brand new machine may enlarge objects 20-times extra. The newest growth has been the launch of the James Webb House Telescope (JWST) — the world’s largest and strongest house telescope. On July 12, 2022, the primary set of pictures from this telescope have been shared with the world. I ponder, what elegant lyrics would possibly the sixteenth century ‘Silver Poets’ — Wyatt, Howard, Raleigh and Sidney — have written, or Van Gogh painted, in response to those spectacular new photographs.

When The Wire commissioned me to do a artistic non-fiction/poetic response to the primary of those never-before-seen high-definition photographic composites — I used to be glad to tackle the problem as an extension of my long-standing curiosity in science; particularly gentle, fibre optics, fractals and pictures. Listed here are my responses to the primary 4 telephotos — a mix of brief artistic non-fiction & poetry:

SMACS 0723  

(a galaxy cluster because it existed 4.6 billion years in the past) 

Picture: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Manufacturing Group

The drama of galactic portraiture — its telescopic picture revealing a deep black canvas speckled with gold, saffron, orange sprinkles. An impressionistic whir, curving illumination, densities spilling, atoms splitting — tell-tale signatures of exoplanets, seismic chemical refractions — a cosmic dance. Layered depths of sunshine, orbits’ elliptical arcs, meteor streaks in various ribboned lengths — swirls of turquoise, ochre, emerald, ruby, portray the sky — a foaming nebula of dying stars fuelling, lighting up the longer term. [And the past]. On the flick of a shutter, 4.6 billion years of tales tumble forth — the previous is dropped at the current by a phalanx of hexagonal gold-mirror panels. We’ve travelled backwards in time, regardless of being current within the current.

Southern Ring Nebula

(an interstellar cloud — a shell of gasoline and dirt expelled into house by a dying star)

Picture: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Manufacturing Group

My consciousness has an alter-ego — a bipolar binary, a twin ring. Our organs are mirrored, however we differ in refined methods. Infrared imaginative and prescient reveals my blue core — the obverse, my crimson. Formed as an oyster shell, gentle emanates from the centre to the periphery — in a single, a single twinkle; the opposite, a couplet. Gentle then dissipates into outer darkness — travelling over terrains of mud, gasoline, ridges, canyons — tens of millions of light-years passing swiftly in seeming slow-motion. A fowl’s eye view mimics an island rock — ocean waves lashing its parabolic shores. Stars die too — of their “dying throes, [they] shake, pulsate, and on the finish, poof!” Births — equally dramatic, tectonic. I hear the heartbeat of distant galaxies, really feel their sonic rumble, think about their palpability and ginormous aggregation of supplies — a magical orchestra, a nebula symphony.


Stephan’s Quintet

(a constellation of 5 galaxies)

Picture: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Manufacturing Group

5 galaxies glow in a single body — their spectacular amoeba-shapes, plasma elongations — rectangular, comma-tailed, yin-yan S-swish — embryonic mapping of high-voltage vitality. Central suns serving as oculi — a volute, a gap on the apex of a dome. rem fluctuates, swimming in numerous wavelengths, in a relentless state of flux. Gravitational interplay — sweeping tails of gasoline, mud, stars, pulled from a number of galaxies — smashing via the cluster of one other, shock waves, cosmic aftershocks. As color temperatures, postures, positions differ — the galactic dance quickly freezes as still-images — grand ectopic formations of violence and wonder.

Carina Nebula

(a turbulent cloud of gasoline and dirt) 

Picture: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Manufacturing Group

What lies past these dramatic amber cosmic cliffs of Carina, birthplace and graveyard for Milky Method’s largest stars — a nebula displaying a deep rumbling space-show — color, gentle, legendary/mystical shapes? DNA mappings extra majestic from afar, a spectrographic marvel. Utter magnificence, fluorescent — the glowing black, blue, crimson, orange, yellow — a drunken swirl of psychedelia, affected by the munificence of curving gentle — gases rising, towering like infinite canyons, an phantasm of solidity — birthing infinite starbursts.

Having had a glimpse of infinity, a brush with eternity, a imaginative and prescient of spectacular magnificence, an encounter with impermanence — a previous coming alive 4.6 billion years later, I stand starstruck, even emotional. And, to know that these Webb photographs are solely a starting of an extended street of epochal discoveries that may research each part of the 13.8 billion years of cosmic historical past, stirs anticipation. A real marvel, a rare time machine.

Sudeep Sen’s [www.sudeepsen.org] prize-winning books embody Postmarked India: New & Chosen Poems (HarperCollins), Rain, Aria, The HarperCollins E-book of English Poetry (editor), Fractals: New & Chosen Poems | Translations 1980-2015 (London Journal Editions), EroText (Classic: Penguin Random Home), Kaifi Azmi: Poems|Nazms(Bloomsbury), and Anthropocene (Pippa Rann). The Authorities of India awarded him the senior fellowship for “excellent individuals within the area of tradition/literature.” Sen is the primary Asian honoured to talk and skim on the Nobel Laureate Competition.

Featured picture: An extended-exposure shot of the Carina Nebula. Picture: Harel Boren.

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