It is curious, but till that moment I had never realised what it means to destroy a healthy, conscious man. When I saw the prisoner step aside to avoid the puddle I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide.
This man was not dying, he was alive just as we are alive. All the organs of his body were working - bowels digesting food, skin renewing itself, nails growing, tissues forming - all toiling away in solemn foolery. His nails would still be growing when he stood on the drop, when he was falling through the air with a tenth of a second to live. His eyes saw the yellow gravel and the grey walls, and his brain still remembered, foresaw, reasoned - even about puddles. He and we were a party of men walking together, seeing, hearing, feeling, understanding the same world; and in two minutes, with a sudden snap, one of us would be gone - one mind less, one world less.
Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.
The Neighbourhood - Sweater Weather
Autumn is my favourite season. The sweltering heat of summer begins to fade and we’re suddenly greeted by a sea of golden leaves on the porch. Temperatures fall to the optimal zone where it’s neither too hot nor too cold. The sun makes way for the rain and winds, only to be followed by fog or frost. Change is definitely the predominant theme of autumn and this is a very special autumn for me as it’s the start of life at university. I’m incredibly excited to see how things unfold in just over a week’s time! Until then, it’s prime time to be enjoying the sweater weather.
Watch A Writhing Aurora in Real Time
I love me some auroras. They are the visual manifestation of an invisible force field, tongues of light that illuminate Earth’s magnetic shell, which by shielding this blue orb from the onslaught of the charged radiation known as solar wind, makes life itself possible.
As charged particles belched from the sun strike our planet’s magnetic carapace, they are diverted poleward on electromagnetic conduits and eventually thrust into the upper atmosphere at Earth’s higher latitudes. There, collisions with atmospheric molecules illuminate the sky in green and red atomic excitation spectra. Their downward orientation makes them appear like needles pushing in from space itself, or as if one was gazing upward at a flag flapping vertically in the wind.
None of that have I ever witnessed with my own eyes, because I live at far too equatorial a latitude for even the largest solar storm to deliver this show to my front door. In learning about auroras through time lapses and astrophotography, which I have done my fair share of here on It’s Okay To Be Smart, I suppose I’ve always assumed they were a slow, gradual thing to behold, moving alomst imperceptibly, but definitely moving, like the way we can watch a cloud dissipate without ever really seeing it happen.
This video of a recent aurora over Yellowknife, Canada tells a different story. It is moving in real time. Stunning work from photographer Kwon O Chul. Not every aurora moves this fast, but this video completely changes the way I look at auroras.
I’ve often thought of the auroras as Earth’s own performance art, as if the sun is thanking us nightly for the simple act of noticing. But for this private light show, it is we who should be thanking the sun.
For more beautiful aurora science check out one of the first videos I ever made for the It’s Okay To Be Smart YouTube channel:
Such a wonderful video! It really goes to show than an aurora is anything but static. I really do hope I’m able to witness one in real life someday.