Saturday, March 19, 2011

Edifying Thoughts of a Tobacco Smoker

Whene'er I take my pipe and stuff it
And smoke to pass the time away
My thoughts, as I sit there and puff it,
Dwell on a picture sad and grey:
It teaches me that very like
Am I myself unto my pipe.

Like me this pipe, so fragrant burning,
Is made of naught but earthen clay;
To earth I too shall be returning,
And cannot halt my slow decay.
My well used pipe, now cracked and broken,
Of mortal life is but a token.

No stain, the pipe's hue yet doth darken;
It remains white. Thus do I know
That when to death's call I must harken
My body, too, all pale will grow.
To black beneath the sod 'twill turn,
Likewise the pipe, if oft it burn.

Or when the pipe is fairly glowing,
Behold then instantaneously,
The smoke off into thin air going,
'Til naught but ash is left to see.
Man's fame likewise away will burn
And unto dust his body turn.

How oft it happens when one's smoking,
The tamper's missing from it's shelf,
And one goes with one's finger poking
Into the bowl and burns oneself.
If in the pipe such pain doth dwell
How hot must be the pains of Hell!

Thus o'er my pipe in contemplation
Of such things - I can constantly
Indulge in fruitful meditation,
And so, puffing contentedly,
On land, at sea, at home, abroad,
I smoke my pipe and worship God.

Johann Sebastian Bach - 1725 (1685-1750)
From: The Second Little Clavier Book For Anna Magdalena Bach.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Natural plutonium-containing mineral

"The sample I have representing plutonium is the naturally occurring mineral muromontite, which is a mixture of uranium and beryllium. Putting beryllium near uranium is generally considered a bad idea because the alpha particles from the decay of uranium are captured by the beryllium atoms, which in turn release neutrons. Neutrons are very unhealthy to be around.
In the case of this sample, however, the neutrons are in turn re-captured by the uranium, which then undergoes further decay and is transformed into plutonium. The result is that this mineral contains the highest known naturally occurring concentration of plutonium."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Golden Tractate of Hermes Trismegistus #5

Return, then, O my Son, the coal being extinct in life, upon the water for thirty days, as I shall note to thee - and henceforth thou art a crowned king, resting over the fountain and drawing from thence the Auripigment dry without moisture. And now I have made the heart of the hearers, hoping in thee, to rejoice even in their eyes, beholding thee in anticipation of that which thou possessest.
Observe, then, that the water was first in the air, then in the earth; restore thou it also to the superiors by its proper windings, and not foolishly altering it; then to the former spirit, fathered in its redness, let it be carefully conjoined.
Know, my Son, that the fatness of our earth is sulphur, the auripigment sirety, and colcothar, which are also sulphur, of which auripigments, sulphur, and such like, some are more vile than others, in which there is a diversity, of which kind also) is the fat of gluey matters, such as are hair, nails, hoofs, and sulphur itself, and of the brain, which too is auripigment; of the like kind also are the lions' and cats' claws, which is sirety; the fat of white bodies, and the fat of the two oriental quicksilvers, which sulphurs are hunted and retained by the bodies.
I say, moreover, that this sulphur doth tinge and fix, and is held by the conjunction of the tinctures; oils also tinge, but fly away, which in the body are contained, which is a conjunction of fugitives only with sulphurs and albumninous bodies, which hold also and detain the fugitive ens.

Orpiment; Auripigment.
A trisulphide of arsenic, of the formula AsjS3, = sulphur 39 per cent, arsenic, 61; hardness, 1.5; specific gravity, 3.4 to 3.5. Color, lemon yellow. This mineral occurs usually associated with realgar at the localities mentioned below.
Occurrences.—Realgar and orpiment are very beautiful, though not abundant minei'als which occur associated with ores of silver and lead in various European mining regions and also those of Japan (Specimen No. 11864, U.S.N.M.), Hungary (Specimen No. 66813, U.S.N.M.), Bohemia. Transylvania, and Saxony. They have been reported in the United States in beds of sandy clay beneath lava in Iron County, Utah, and form the so-called "Arsenical gold ore" of the Golden Gate Mine, Mercur, Tooele County, this same State (Specimen No. 53363, U.S.N.M.); also in San Bernardino County, California; Douglas County, Oregon (Specimen No. 62101, U.S.N.M.), and in minute quantities in the geyser waters of the Yellowstone National Park. 

Concerning The Alchemical Virtues In Arsenic

A certain name was invented and put forth by our ancestors, namely, electrum. Electrum is a metal proceeding from another metal, and unlike the metal from which it descends. For example : Copper turns to white metal. When its redness is removed it is called electrum. In like manner, from copper, by means of cadmia, is made orichalcum, and this is called red electrum. These different kinds of electrum certain alchemical sciolists and artists reckoned as silver, and sometimes took in place of gold; nor did they understand or believe anything eWe save that thin was silver, and so that silver could be produced from copper. Omitting the name of electrum, they took it for silver or for gold, and did not leave off their investigations so long as a house or a court remained. I point out this in order that error may be avoided, and that due consideration may be given to the questions, What is electrum ? what is gold ? and what is silver ? and that in this way no rash measures may be taken 
The Hermetic and Alchemical Writings of Aureolus Philippus Theophrastus ... By Paracelsus

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Participatory Theatre #1

"Theatre is a form of knowledge: It should and can also be a means of transforming society. Theatre can help us build our future, rather than just waiting for it."
- Augusto Boal

“I engage in dialogue because I recognize the social and not merely the individualistic character of the process of knowing. In this sense, dialogue presents itself as an indispensable component of the process of both learning
and knowing. ”
- Paolo Freire

Form follows function, and function follows
Desire and desire follows paths away
From the clean blue fire of reason and thought
Into the starlit dark where we pretend
We choose what we make and are what we sought

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Fluid Outer Core

"...a lunar magnetohydrodynamacist, who should never have been allowed to leave the planet, knew way too much about that project of theirs to tap the tiny Lunar core. Specifically she knew that they were using the fluid outer core as a storage medium, orders of magnitude in size greater than the Networks."

The Sundial