Thursday, January 01, 2009

Our Planet Spun Into A New Year

We live on a rock, a fairly big one. It spins about 1,000 mph, but we don’t notice it. It also goes around the sun at 67,000 mph and we still don’t notice it. Our sun and the solar system zip around the rest of the galaxy at 470,000 mph; still nothing you might take note of without some fancy ‘scope and equally fancy calculations.

At some point in its rotation around the sun, after the mistaken and unknown birth date of a person, at a certain spot in its spin, a lighted ball descended at the cross-section of two streets at a location on this planet and everyone went wild as we entered the new enumeration of the calendar most of us keep.

Oddly enough, we don’t celebrate New Year’s Day; it’s New Year’s Eve that’s the big thing in our culture. There’s a big build-up all through the day and evening but, when it’s over, it’s over: the crowd disperses in about an hour and that’s it.

The planet keeps spinning, the solar system continues to revolve, the galaxy itself has its own ever-moving circle at one revolution every 248 million years; I don’t know what its speedometer reads, but I’m sure it’s fast. To the outside observer, of course, it would seem to barely be moving, but for the size of it (light takes 100,000 years to go across the disc), it’s probably whipping along quite well.

I wonder if the universe has its own soul, its own calendar, from Instant One to now. If the solar system knows its own age, it’s own Happy New Year.


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