In my dream the Great One married me.
This is the first line of a Mirabai poem, "A Dream of Marriage"
translated by Robert Bly in
Mirabai: Ecstatic Poems (2004).
chaos after the Big Bang
The Big Bang is a cosmological model of the universe that has become
well supported by several independent observations. After Edwin Hubble
discovered that galactic distances were generally proportional to their
red shifts in 1929, this observation was taken to indicate that the
universe is expanding. The discovery of the cosmic microwave background
in 1964 was taken as almost undeniable support for the Big Bang.
particles flying everywhere
In the early universe after the Big Bang,
matter & anti-matter were
created in equal proportion from energy (electromagnetic radiation).
However, these pair production often resulted in collisions or annihilations
when protons bump into anti-protons and electrons with anti-electrons (positrons).
a proton, 2000 times larger
Electron mass = 9.10908 x 10-31 kilogram
Electron radius = 2.81777 x 10-15 metre
Proton mass = 1.67252 x 10-27 kilogram
Mike Darton & John Clark, The Macmillan Dictionary of Measurement
Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, 1994, pp. 134, 363-364
(Proton mass / Electron mass) = (16725.2 x 10-31 / 9.10908 x 10-31) =
(Proton / Electron) = (16725.2 / 9.10908) = 1836.102
The proton-electron mass ratio, (mp/me) = 1836.15267247
according to the National Institute of Standards & Technology
(NIST on the Web).
The Proton is 1836 times larger than the Electron
or approximately 2000 times larger.
He was so big
To appreciate the size differential of the proton to the electron,
it is as if a giant like the Empire State Building asked for a bride
the size of a basketball to marry him. Let's do some calculations:
The Empire State Building rises to 1,250 feet (381 meters)
at the 102nd floor
A standard basketball used in the NBA
is 29.5 inches in circumference
Since Circumference = πD = 3.1416 x Diameter,
Diameter or height of a basketball is 9.39 inch = 0.78 feet.
(Empire State Building / Basketball) = 1250 ft / 0.78 ft = 1689.
So the Empire State Building is 1689 times taller than a Basketball.
This is roughly the same ratio of the Proton size to the Electron.
Another comparison is Stanford's
Hoover Tower (285 feet) that is
2036 times taller than a
golf ball (diameter = 1.68" = 0.14 feet)
Hence, the Electron's proclamation: "He was so big!"
Note: The above photos are not scaled to right size. As shown,
the Empire State Building is only 26.7 times larger than the basketball.
Hoover Tower is only 53.4 times larger than the golf ball instead of 2036.
He was the Great One that married me!
Since the Hydrogen Atom is made of a proton and an electron,
we may say that it is the "Great One" as its atomic number is 1
and its atomic weight is 1.008
(Table of Elements).
The Sun in our solar system is composed of 92% Hydrogen by volume,
7% Helium, with Iron, Nickel, Oxygen, Silicon, Carbon, the remaining 1%.
Since the Sun is composed mostly of Hydrogen, we may also call it
"The Great One" as its light and warmth sustains our life on Earth.
Note: After reading this poem in class from our 7-minute writing
exercise, Bly said "Protons don't belong in poems", but added that it was
brave for me to write another poem on science. Last week, my poem
"Monuments of Magnificience" on Max Perutz spending 40 years
solving the atomic structure of hemoglobin was not warmly received.
When Robert Bly read the poem "Mira the Bee" where she
speaks of her Love like "the partridge that swallows hot coals
for love of the moon", he asked the class whether any of us
had a love like that. One of the students said that she can't
relate to these mystical poems of Mirabai. I thought of Dante's
love for Beatrice, but then realized the Proton's love for the
Electron. Their union has lasted the age of this universe
almost 14 billion years! Heaven forbid if they should ever divorce.
The marriage of Proton and Electron is what binds everything together
from the smallest atom to the largest galaxies. I'm sure Mirabai
could relate to the depth of this love everlasting and eternal.
Peter Y. Chou