Brain Pickings

Reads tagged with “astronomy”

Probable Impossibilities: Physicist Alan Lightman on Beginnings, Endings, and What Makes Life Worth Living
Probable Impossibilities: Physicist Alan Lightman on Beginnings, Endings, and What Makes Life Worth Living

How our cosmic improbability confers dignity and meaning upon our shared existence.

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Kiss of the Sun: Poetry, Love, and Our Search for Meaning at the End of Time
Kiss of the Sun: Poetry, Love, and Our Search for Meaning at the End of Time

A spare guide to making joyous peace with “the end of time, which is also the end of poetry (and wheat and evil and insects and love).”

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Secrets from the Center of the World: Poet Joy Harjo’s Reflections on Science and Meaning in Response to an Astronomer’s Otherworldly Photographs of Earth
Secrets from the Center of the World: Poet Joy Harjo’s Reflections on Science and Meaning in Response to an Astronomer’s Otherworldly Photographs of Earth

“I can hear the sizzle of newborn stars, and know anything of meaning, of the fierce magic emerging here. I am witness to flexible eternity, the evolving past, and I know we will live forever, as dust or breath in the face of stars, in the shifting pattern of winds.”

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Sojourners in Space: Annie Dillard on What Mangrove Trees Teach Us About the Human Search for Meaning in an Impartial Universe
Sojourners in Space: Annie Dillard on What Mangrove Trees Teach Us About the Human Search for Meaning in an Impartial Universe

“We don’t know where we belong, but in times of sorrow it doesn’t seem to be here… where space is curved… we’re all going to die, and it seems as wise to stay in bed as budge.”

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The Habits of Light: A Celebration of Pioneering Astronomer Henrietta Leavitt, Whose Calculations Proved That the Universe Is Expanding
The Habits of Light: A Celebration of Pioneering Astronomer Henrietta Leavitt, Whose Calculations Proved That the Universe Is Expanding

“The universe is made of distance and of dust.”

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Citizen Science, the Cosmos, and the Meaning of Life: How the Comet That Might One Day Destroy Us Gives Us the Most Transcendent Celestial Spectacle
Citizen Science, the Cosmos, and the Meaning of Life: How the Comet That Might One Day Destroy Us Gives Us the Most Transcendent Celestial Spectacle

Encounters with the beautiful and the sublime in the science of “the single most dangerous object known to humanity.”

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Maria Mitchell’s Telescope and the Kickstarting of Popular Astronomy: The Heartening Story of the World’s First Crowdfunding Campaign for Science
Maria Mitchell’s Telescope and the Kickstarting of Popular Astronomy: The Heartening Story of the World’s First Crowdfunding Campaign for Science

“Patient thought, patient labor, and firmness of purpose are almost omnipotent.”

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Being but Men: Astronomer Natalie Batalha Reads Dylan Thomas’s Cosmic Serenade to Trees and the Wonder of Being Human
Being but Men: Astronomer Natalie Batalha Reads Dylan Thomas’s Cosmic Serenade to Trees and the Wonder of Being Human

“Children in wonder watching the stars, is the aim and the end.”

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A Brave and Startling Truth: Maya Angelou’s Stunning Humanist Poem That Flew to Space, Inspired by Carl Sagan and Read by Astrophysicist Janna Levin
A Brave and Startling Truth: Maya Angelou’s Stunning Humanist Poem That Flew to Space, Inspired by Carl Sagan and Read by Astrophysicist Janna Levin

“Out of such chaos, of such contradiction / We learn that we are neither devils nor divines…”

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What to Look for During a Total Solar Eclipse: Mabel Loomis Todd’s Poetic 19th-Century Guide to Totality, with Help from Emily Dickinson
What to Look for During a Total Solar Eclipse: Mabel Loomis Todd’s Poetic 19th-Century Guide to Totality, with Help from Emily Dickinson

“A vast, palpable presence seems overwhelming the world. The blue sky changes to gray or dull purple, speedily becoming more dusky, and a death-like trance seizes upon everything earthly.”

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