Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Five Kinds of Light
The sun is a deceptively simple maelström of roaring magnetic plasma. Its arcing blasts of radiation lash across the skin of the Earth. On that surface, the constant rain of solar particles creates chaotic rippling transformations. From matter to energy and back again in unaccountable combinations.
This morning, as we reeled around the sun's gravity vortex, forest-sponged rainwater was excited back into floating vapor. The rainwater itself had been transported from miles away by that same process, maybe hundreds of times before it fell here. And before that all the way back to comet-borne ice, Dinosaur spit, and Louis XVI's chamber pot. Droplets of that hyperactive, eternally multitasking vapor condensed, reflecting the light and energy that triggered its airy suspension.
Shafts of shadow are thrown by the leafy canopy. Busy absorption panels above shade the prismatic mist. The missing light is captured, fed into a reaction beyond view as zillions of plant chloroplasts produce the stuff of living bodies. Carbon chains. The sun-derived basis of nearly all known animate existence, crowding over anyplace wet enough.
The automobile runs on solar power. Each internal explosion is a tiny ripple cast from waves of that same radiation - the sunlight that bathed some algae in the distant geological past, locked up by a long-gone chloroplast and stuck in a rocky milkshake below the ground. Now a human straw has sucked the tarry light out and set it on fire again. Archival Combustion.
Likewise, the lamppost, tied to the enormous cupric web of current, induced by some burning blocky fossilized moss or falling water, or convecting wind, or the very rays themselves, splashed onto a silicon panel somewhere far out of sight, drew a parasitic nighttime trickle from the radiating sun.
And the camera. Enough of the wave escapes, or ricochets, or dances towards a hunk of glass and an electric retina in the hand of a primate. The impression of those rays is relayed to you, using a boggling combination of the sun's power in more forms than it is wise to count.
Check out this month's NG story on Solar Storms.