Thursday, September 24, 2009

L'eau de lune

"I read the news today, oh boy . . . "

Actually, I didn't read the news; I heard it on NPR. (Who reads news anymore anyway? Sad.)

The news I refer to is that scientists studying stuff brought back decades ago from the Apollo missions have found molecules of water (water-bearing minerals, more accurately).

One scientist said, "This is not your grandmother's water." It's not oceans, or even puddles, or even liquid. Nor is it solid or gas. It is something else.

And surprising.

Surprising.

One scientist said she was so surprised she thought her instruments needed to be calibrated.

Water. We thought we knew you. We thought we understood intimately this building block of life. In our thirst for knowledge, we thought the word "water" in its infinite connotations and denotations quenched something. We were cocksure that, well (pun intended), water was at least wet, and close to solid in the frozen north, as solid as "meaning." But, alas, Water, we hardly knew you.

Water. Just a word, just a concept.

And how many other watery definitions will slosh down the drain of certainty as our world, our cosmos, rocks us with surprise?

How many other words turn out to be just like, um, water?


There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
-- William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616), "Hamlet," Act 1 scene 5

1 comment:

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Reading this (yes, I READ it, dork that I am) affected me much as learning long ago that everything I had thought was solid was actually composed of moving molecules and that we ourselves are nothing more or less than energy. The mind boggles.