Physics Fun Facts

The night sky always makes me feel a little uneasy,
doubly so when it drapes over a quiet sea.
I know that ancient seafarers must have found it reassuring,
the ocean calmed by darkness and the stars their dependable guides,
but I know too many physics fun facts.

Starlight makes a years-long journey to reach us.
I know there’s a chance (if a very small one) that one of those ever-present fixtures
is already long-gone by the time we get to see it.
And now I can’t help but see those twinkling lights as so many flashing distress calls;
distress calls I cannot answer, for my boat is barely seaworthy, let alone spaceworthy.
When my senses collude with the laws of the universe to deceive me,
what can I place my faith in?

Icy dread washes over me on this warm night.
I grip the mast to steady myself, 
immediately recoiling from the cold touch of the aluminium.
But this, too, is a trick.
Most metals conduct heat much more effectively than skin;
even at the same temperature they sap heat from you
for a second or two
until they reach a happy equilibrium.
My nerves tell me I’m in danger, but they’re lying to me again.

There’s one fun physics fact I still hold dear, however,
looking out to the middle distance between vessel and void;
where blue meets blue and grey meets grey and black meets black;
where the edges of islands puff up like profiteroles;
out there lies the horizon.

But the horizon we see is not the true horizon.
This deception is unique: one of elucidation, not concealment.
On its way from sky to eye, light leaves the vacuum of space
and pierces our atmosphere.
The changing medium refracts it like an ethereal prism, 
bending it more and more Earthward as the air becomes thicker and livelier.

The horizon we see is not the true horizon:
the sun, the sea, the sky, and the stars all conspire,
bending light around the surface of the Earth to meet your eyes,
unrolling it ever so slightly.

The horizon we see is not the true horizon:
The world blesses us with a glimpse of something farther, something grander,
if only by a mile or two.
And I’m so grateful for it.

Featured photo by Benny Rotlevy on Unsplash.


In a dream, you saw a way to survive, and you were filled with joy.


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