Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Infinity and Beyond

I don't begin to understand this photo. Apparently it's the universe, courtesy of the Planck Telescope: the white streak is the Milky Way, the red bits radiation left over from the Big Bang 3.7 billion years ago. Since I struggle to keep tabs on the moon, there's little chance I can get my head around this, or even grasp how the photo was put together. To me it just looks like a rather pretty opal. I can live with that.

I have, though, been considering time, lately: that's what happens when you go to Australia and people start bandying around numbers like 65-175,000 years (Aboriginal occupation) and 800 million years (Simpsons Gap in the West MacDonnells). It's something you notice, coming from a country that's only been an entity for 85 million years, which even if some of its rocks are 540 million years old, is still considered a "geological newcomer". And where people only arrived 1000 years ago. And white people 200 or so. And where the oldest stone building went up in 1832.
So it's pretty impressive to wander through gorges of rock that's been polished by eons of weather, that was laid down as sediment in the sea, and compressed, and lifted, and eroded, and split and cracked - and that also looks so stunning, orange streaked with black, or a red so rich that it seems to shimmer along the edge where it meets the cobalt blue of the sky.

But, on the other hand, here in NZ we do have the pointy bits that Australia lacks - our rocks may be new, but that means they're sharp. And that's a good look too.

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