Like many people I woke early on Wednesday morning to catch a glimpse of a planet supposedly moving across the face of the sun like some roving little black mole of a beauty mark. However, a thin flat blanket of grey up high where blue should have been prevented me from having any chance of seeing this century’s last transit of Venus.
Not being able to look up and see the Goddess of Beauty, I looked down and into the spherical wonder of unfurling banksia flowers. It was here that I saw a different version of the goddess Venus, who, at that very moment was flinging herself across the vast face of the stellar furnace that fuels all life in our part of the Milky Way.
Leaving our sun at 700 million miles an hour, most photons will travel very lonely lives for an eternity of years in the vacuum of space until another star, planet, or distant galaxy invites them to stop. After the briefest of time, however, — a cruel eight minutes instead of the possibility of cruising along for millions if not billions of years enjoying the scenery of intergalactic space — those photons that shot out of the sun directly towards our pin prick of an earth will suffer a pre-mature early death of sorts. But in slamming into the earth, their demise will shower the earth with warmth, light and life.
On Wednesday past, some of these photons zoomed down the tubes of hundreds, if not thousands, of telescopes aimed at the sun. For every photon that went into the eye of the telescope, trillions more passed through the very tiny “eyes” of green leaves — their stomata — and used their electro-magnetic energy to photosynthesize water into oxygen and hydrogen and carbon dioxide into hydrocarbons and other goodies. Pure magic. Life giving.
We should all bow down for this sacrificial act on the part of these photons.
A few advertising agencies and fashion magazines might push the phrase “Size matters”, but they need to rethink which end of the spectrum of size they’re referring to, for without the microscopic size of photons zinging around, there would be neither bounce nor jiggle anywhere.
And here’s something else to ponder. If men are from Mars and women are from Venus — and science has shown that life on either of these planets is pretty well non-existent –maybe this is proof enough that Earth, being balanced half way between Mars and Venus and their representative energies, is where life happens.
And only within this balance can life with all its myriad wondrous forms be formed.