News with Nuance: May 5, 2023
Your Friday dose of News with Nuance: the week's biggest stories, unpacked + more ..
It’s currently 75 degrees in my hometown and SPRING HAS COME to Minneapolis.
OK, OK, OK, I am finally going to put away the snow boots and mittens and stocking caps today. It’s time. It has to be time now, right?
I hope wherever you are, you’re getting a chance to enjoy some pleasant weather, too. So I’ll keep this intro short - in hopes that all of us can get outside. I find that when I get a chance to do so, all of my “problems” sort of find perspective. I guess that’s the meaning of creation itself.
Let’s get to the news … with nuance …
Artist's impression of a star devouring one of its planets
Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/M. Garlick/M. Zamani
The Headline: Caught in the act: Astronomers spot star swallowing a planet for first time
I want you to read with me the first line of this article:
“Roughly 5 billion years from now, our Sun will end, not with a bang but with a whimper.”
How does reading that make you feel?
I’ll tell you how it made me feel upon first reading it this morning - and how this article has stayed with me throughout the day.
On first reading, I actually felt a sense of existential terror. And how can you not, right? Astronomers know pretty much for certain that at a future date, not only your city or your country or our world but our entire solar system will cease to exist. They know that earth will just be swallowed up.
And you and I are just a tiny little minuscule, insignificant temporary mortal organism on this huge planet. And what they’re basically saying is that even though our earth is so massive to us, ultimately it’s just another planet that’s going to be swallowed up - until one day our sun explodes, too.
Kind of scary, right?
I don’t know about you - but I read that article in the midst of making sure my older son got his Amoxicillin for strep throat - and admonishing my younger son to wipe up his breakfast cereal spill, and brush his teeth. And I was thinking about how today I needed to wash towels and rugs, and wipe down the bathroom toilets. I was excited to see my younger brother, who is visiting from a few states away. I was thinking about how to make sure the bills got paid, and my work was done, and listening to my husband on a work call about an engineering project.
I mean that’s all important stuff. Each day brings things that need doing and bills that need paying and dishes that need washing and teeth that need brushing. Sometimes - and I’m sure you can relate - I spend hours of a day lost inside my head, strategizing and creating and doing what needs doing. I forget to really see the trees and sniff the air and taste that first drink of cool, miraculous water.
I talk a lot in this News with Nuance newsletter about global issues, war, conflict, social issues, gun violence, religion, Christian Nationalism, politics, journalism. And all of these things are really important, because there are about 8 billion of us in this world and it would be really great if we could love each other and make the world better instead of destroying each other and destroying our world.
Still, spending all of my time thinking about these theories and relationships sometimes means my brain becomes entirely too disembodied (note here, if you want to learn more about reconnecting to your body - I highly recommend the work of my friend,- and her book, The Embodied Path).
I’m sharing this article today about, well basically, the future end of the world, because as I’ve thought about it throughout today - I’ve moved from Terror into presence, acceptance, and patience. I’ve found myself slowing down, relaxing, appreciating the world and the people I get to share it with. I hope maybe the gift of perspective this article offers might give you a few moments of peace, patience, and acceptance, too.
The Quote: "One of the reasons we do astronomy in the first place is to answer the questions: Where do we come from? And where are we going," said (Kishalay) De. "This particular discovery shows us where we are going. It's a testament to our eventual state in the Universe. All that we see around us, all that we've built, will be gone in a flash when the Sun decides to evolve and puff out in 5 billion years."
Story by Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica
The Headline: These people want to flee Sudan. Their passports are locked in empty embassies.
One of the ongoing themes in this newsletter is the (often unintentional) dehumanization of people in the face of larger governmental and economic processes and bureaucracy.
This article shares a heartbreaking example of the tragedy that can occur when - in the midst of crisis - bureaucratic processes forget to account for real human lives.
Sudan is currently in the midst of a burgeoning civil war, where two generals - one
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