Inverse Square Law

How can it feel so incredibly cold and distant when you hold it in your hand?

It starts with the moon. It’s the size of a fingernail at arm’s reach, so you pluck it. The heft is much reduced by the distance. There, in the center of your hand, two hundred and thirty thousand miles away, it weighs a hundredth of an ounce.

The bright side and the dark side are nearly undetectably warmer and colder than skin temperature, respectively. It could even be your imagination. It looks rough, but it feels so smooth that it seems it should be shiny.

You hang it back in the sky where it belongs and trace the skin of the hollow of your palm with the back of a nail from your other hand, erasing the memory of the featherweight touch.

The sun, in the other hand, is about the same size but weighs more than an ounce and a half. It is warm liked being licked by a sunbeam. Whereas the moon was a marble, the sun is soft and fuzzy. Somewhat tacky, like cotton candy. It tingles a little, too, as you touch it with a finger and draw back.

The rest of the sky feels like mist and fog and, somewhat bizarrely, air, not the nothingness of vacuum. Waving a hand through the void, trailing fingers through protonic eddies that carry the heat away like a cooling breeze, now and again you feel the sharp faint prick of a distant star. The nearest galaxy slips through your fingers like faint smoke.

But deep space has a texture. You can feel it, even from here.


December 19, 2010 · by xalieri · Posted in Everything Else  


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