Tiny Specks

Tiny Specks

A Poem by Rick Puetter
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...How small everything is!

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Artist: Gaurav. Licensed under Creative Common Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.  The original image can be seen at http://lh5.ggpht.com/_qZgEIPGL3_M/Sshgbrqy3tI/AAAAAAAAEHA/9uxKw8ClUA0/quantumuniverse.jpg

 

 

 

Tiny Specks

 

     “Everything is so small…”

 

 

Oh, tiny speck of space and time1

Adrift in endless seas

How large the world must seem to you--

Stretch to infinity!

 

Oh, tiny speck of hadron2 soup

How lonely you must be!

No others near, as you're steeped in

Dilute, electron sea

 

Oh, tiny speck of iron3 and stone

And blue with azure seas

You are but dust--I smaller still

You once seemed big to me

 

And you’re ' speck, too--you isle of stars4

Pinwheel of heaven’s seas

With telescope--not microscope--

For you, eye strains to see

 

And tiny speck--you Universe5

Afloat yet greater seas!

Oh yes, it's true! All things are small--

A wonderment to me

 

 

©2010 Richard Puetter

All rights reserved

 

 

Notes

 

1At the finest scales, space and time are quantized into a roiling sea of particles of space-time.  These particles are of the smallest size and duration that make sense to talk about physically.  They are the Planck time and Planck length, 5.39x10-44 seconds and 1.62x10-35 meters, respectively.

 

2Hadrons are particles, such as a protons and neutrons, that are made up of quarks and held together by the Strong Nuclear Force.  So we’re talking about an atomic nucleus, here.  If we assume we’re talking about a hydrogen atom, the proton has a roughly exponentially decaying charge distribution with an RMS radius of roughly 8.77x10-16 meters.  The electron cloud surrounding it is roughly the size of the Bohr radius (5.29x10-11 meters), or roughly 100,000 times larger than the size of the nucleus.  This is also about as close as another nucleus can come to another atom’s nucleus in a molecule as atomic bonds are of roughly this size.  So a nucleus is alone and really sitting in a dilute sea of electrons.  To keep track of our jumps in scale in this poem, a hydrogen atom is roughly 1024 times (a 1 followed by 24 zeros) larger than the finest division of space-time.

 

3The earth has a molten iron core.  The earth’s radius is roughly 6.4x106 meters--the Earth is not perfectly spherical, the poles being flattened relative to the equator.  So the Earth is roughly 1022 times bigger than a proton.

 

4The Milky Way galaxy, the home of our solar system, is a giant barred spiral galaxy, one of the largest kinds of galaxies.  There is only one other giant spiral in the Local Group of 20 or so galaxies, and that is Andromeda.  The rough radius of the Milky Way is 50,000 light years, or about 4.73x1020 meters.  So it is about 1014 times bigger than the Earth.

 

5The Age of the Universe is now known (to 1% accuracy) to be 13.7 billion years old.  So that also gives the size of the Universe to be 13.7 billion light years, or roughly 1.3x1026 meters, making it roughly 3x105 times larger than the Milky Way.  So the size scale spanned in this poem is from the Planck length to the radius of the Universe or roughly a 1061 times change in scale.  Now, of course, we’re not really done. Most physicists today believe the Universe is just a tiny “bubble” in some larger, multi-dimensional reality.  How big is that?  Well the question is not even really appropriate since we can’t even properly define what we mean by “size” on this “otherness” of existence.  Our concepts simply fail.  But if we could make some proper definitions, I am confident that we’d find our universe to be an incredibly small speck.

© 2012 Rick Puetter


My Review

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Featured Review

This poem really reads well. Lovely rhythm which keeps you wanting to know more.
When I was young the boys used to say that the universe was in someone's test tube. I argued that if we were in someone's test tube then they must be in someone's even bigger test tube, and so on ad infinitum. But thank goodness that the world is big enough for us to write poems.

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.



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Reviews

Seriously like having a conversation with my dad - ahh bless!! - Well the notes at the end anyway, certainly not the poetry with my Daddio.

All things are small and yes we are all connected - this is a beauty in life too often forgotten.



Posted 3 Months Ago


This poem really reads well. Lovely rhythm which keeps you wanting to know more.
When I was young the boys used to say that the universe was in someone's test tube. I argued that if we were in someone's test tube then they must be in someone's even bigger test tube, and so on ad infinitum. But thank goodness that the world is big enough for us to write poems.

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

this is so true the way I see it as, the universe is small, we are small, everything is small, like there is just so much out there that every thing seems small because of everything else comparing to it, and your style is very nicely written, old timey it seems, I like it, your stanzas arents too long, your rhyme scheme is nice and not forced, you're not just using those certain words that only rhyme you actually use over vocabulary to get your point across. very clearly written and thanks for your submission in my contest, started to read early and this is beautiful and very questionable.

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Oh, the feeling of being small. This world is so big. Thanks for posting this thought provoking poem in my contest. :)
We think we're so big and important sometimes, but in reality, we're just a speck in a huge universe..

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I enjoyed the notes and the poem equally, since I'm not making enough use of this site unless I learn what I can. Erik may be right about your stanza, but you have o nly taken the poetic lisence which is your right.
I am nothing to the earth
From shining sea to sky
And to the mighty universe
The earth is less than I.

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I disagree with Mockingbird. I find the explanations interesting. Mockingbird doesn't HAVE to read them, yet, they are there for those of us who want to learn something new; never a bad idea!

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I absolutely love this. I find physics poetic in its own right, so a piece of this nature delights me. Wonderfully and skillfully written, this is truly a work to be proud of. Excellent!

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

A beautiful mix of science and poetry.
"Most physicists today believe the Universe is just a tiny “bubble” in some larger, multi-dimensional reality. " - Brings to my mind Horton Hears a Who - as you can see I've read a lot to children.

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Okay, I have to admit this poem freaked me out a bit. You see, I have started a poem called, "Specks on Specks," about the vastness of the cosmos and how tiny I am with it. I want to speak about how I feel both comfort and terror at the thought of it. You're piece is much grander as you are able to convey size so well. Much greater than what I envision in my poem...but I will dare to send you a notice when it's posted. BTW, I love the footnotes as much as the poem!!

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

it was a great poem. the notes were unnecessary though, even for us lay people. without them it doesn't take away anything from such a profound poem. we do have to realize that we ourselves are specks in the context of the whole Universe, it being so vast, we're less than specks. scientific terminology is just as poetic as 'regular' words because they just fit. and i think most of us get it. it's just showing off.

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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1910 Views
38 Reviews
Shelved in 3 Libraries
Added on October 30, 2010
Last Updated on June 18, 2012
Tags: size, scale, physics, universe, particles, space, time, perspective

Author

Rick Puetter
Rick Puetter

San Diego, CA



About
So what's the most important thing to say about myself? I guess the overarching aspect of my personality is that I am a scientist, an astrophysicist to be precise. Not that I am touting science.. more..

Writing