Can’t catch a falling star

Our amazing universe.

“Neutron star matter weighs about the same as an ordinary mountain per teaspoonful – so much that if you had a piece of it and let it go (you could hardly do otherwise), it might pass effortlessly through the Earth like a falling stone through air, carving a hole for itself completely through our planet and emerging out the other side – perhaps in China. People there might be out for a stroll, minding their own business, when a tiny lump of neutron star plummets out of the ground, hovers for a moment, and then returns beneath the Earth, providing at least a diversion from the routine of the day. If a piece of neutron star matter were dropped from nearby space, with the Earth rotating beneath it as it fell, it would plunge repeatedly through the rotating Earth, punching hundreds of thousands of holes before friction with the interior of our planet stopped the motion. Before it comes to rest at the center of the Earth, the inside of our planet might look briefly like a Swiss cheese until the subterranean flow of rock and metal healed the wounds. It is just as well that large lumps of neutron star matter are unknown on Earth. But small lumps are everywhere. The awesome power of the neutron star is lurking in the nucleus of every atom, hidden in every teacup and dormouse, every breath of air, every apple pie. The neutron star teaches us respect for the commonplace.”



From Cosmos (1980) by Carl Sagan.


Published by

Philip Lee

Writer and musician who tries to join up the dots.

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