Notes to Poem:
Geese Playing Chicken: V-formation collision

Peter Y. Chou

Preface: I've been collecting images of Platonic Lambda Λ for over a dozen years, because Plato wrote in Timaeus 35b that God used this shape to create the "Soul of the Universe" whose sum adds to 55. I wrote a paper "Dante's 55 & the Platonic Lambda" after Professor Freccero's Stanford class on "Dante's Paradiso", showing how Dante was familiar with this sacred number. Plato's "Soul of the Universe" remained somewhat abstract until I realized that this Λ-shape manifests itself when we're alive walking and breathing. It is also in the V-formation of flying geese. When I saw Bob Thaves' "Frank & Ernest" October 2, 2012 comics, with its caption "How about that? Geese playing chicken!", I knew Professor Dupuy would love it. He talked to his Stanford class about "The Chicken Game" that's quite memorable. Because the geese were flying in the Λ-formation, symbolizing the "World Soul", and Plato links our souls to stars (Plato's Timaeus 41c), I wondered what's the outcome when World Souls come in collision. I just became aware that there's an impending collision 3.75 billion years from now between our Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxies. Recent data from the Hubble Space Telescope show a surprising result that I was not aware when starting this poem.

Commentary on Poem "Geese Playing Chicken: V-formation collision":

"How about that? Geese playing chicken!"
reads the caption of Frank & Ernest comics
as two groups of geese in V-formation
fly toward each other for a head-on collision.

        Bob Thaves, Frank & Ernest Comics (October 2, 2012)
When I read Bob Thaves' comics Frank & Ernest on October 2, 2012 in San Jose Mercury News,
with its caption "How about that? Geese playing chicken!", it stirred up a lot of memories that inspired this poem.
Photo Source: Frank & Ernest comics (

Readers comments at—
This could lead to some scrambled eggs and
that special Moroccan dish: goose-goose.
Dead geese on road— feathers, feathers everywhere!

Near East Couscous
I've quoted 7 of 16 responses at to this Frank & Ernest comics in this poem. I searched online for Moroccan goose-goose recipes, but found none. Some British and French recipes— Goose Risotto, Goose with Apples, Goose in Jelly, and Goose à la Flammande. A friend tells me that the Moroccan dish is not "goose-goose but cous-cous!" Couscous is a North African Berber dish of semolina traditionally served with a meat or vegetable stew spooned over it. Couscous is a staple food throughout Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and Libya. Paul Brunton introduced me to couscous when we had lunch in Lausanne during my visit at his home in Vevey (October 1978). Since then, I've enjoyed couscous with stir-fried Chinese vegetables.
Couscous with vegetables & chickpeas
Photo Sources: Near East Couscous (; Couscous with vegetables (

Professor Dupuy would love this comics
of "geese playing chicken" when he lectured
on "MAD— Mutual Assured Destruction"
in missiles buildup during the Cold War.

Jean-Pierre Dupuy

U.S. & Russia Nuclear Weapons

Stockpiles of Nukes for Deterrence

Nevada Nuclear Test (4-18-1953)
I audited Professor Jean-Pierre Dupuy's Stanford seminar "Problem of Evil" in Spring 2009. In his 4th class on April 27, 2009, Dupuy talked about MAD or Mutual Assured Destruction (a doctrine of military strategy in which a full-scale use of nuclear weapons by two opposing sides would effectively result in the complete annihilation of both the attacker and the defender. The world's stockpile of nuclear weapons peaked in 1985 with 80,000 warheads. British philosopher Bertrand Russell saw the gruesome parallel between "chicken games" and nuclear brinkmanship: Each side wants the other side to back down— to turn aside— although neither is willing to do so itself. A head-on collision awaits. Russell said: "That's the exact situation of nuclear deterrence." (Russell's Common Sense and Nuclear Warfare, 1959). (Also David P. Barash, The Survival Game, 2004)
Photo Sources: Prof. Jean-Pierre Dupuy (; U.S. & Russia Nuclear Weapons (; Nukes for Deterrence (; Nevada Nuclear Explosion Test (

He dramatized this in his Stanford class
showing a film clip Rebel Without A Cause
in car-racing toward a cliff between gang leader
and James Dean— first to jump out is a chicken!

Rebel Without a Cause: Chicken Race

Start of Chicken Race Game

James Dean before jumping out

Cory Allen before plunging

1955 Film poster
Judy (Natalie Wood) belongs to the high school gang of Buzz Gunderson. The thugs challenge Jim Stark (James Dean) to a "Chicken Race" with Buzz (Corey Allen), racing stolen cars towards an abyss. The one who first jumps out of the car loses and is deemed a "chicken." The "game" ends in tragedy for Buzz; the strap on the sleeve of his leather jacket becomes caught on the car door and he is unable to jump before it goes over the cliff. Jim's friend, John Crawford (Sal Mineo) looked apprehensive about the "Chicken Race, and was relieved that Jim managed to stay alive. It is interesting that these three actors died tragically. James Dean was killed in a car crash at age 24, near Cholame, CA at the junction of Highways 46 & 41 (Sept. 30, 1955). Sal Mineo was stabbed to death at age 37 in a West Hollywood alley by a pizza deliveryman who had no idea who Mineo was (Feb. 12, 1976). Natalie Wood slipped accidentally from her boat and drowned at age 43 near Santa Catalina Island, CA (Nov. 29, 1981). On the other hand, Corey Allen whose character Buzz died in the film when his car ran off the cliff, became a successful TV director, died at age 75 (2010), last surviving cast member of the film.
Photo Sources: Rebel Without a Cause: Chicken Race (; Film clips from YouTube (The Chicken Game)

Enough about playing this chicken game—
Heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali
said he'd run from a thug with a knife instead
of landing his knockout punch— that's courage.

Muhammad Ali knocks out
Liston (May 25, 1965)

Ali knocks out Foreman
(Zaire, October 30, 1974)

Muhammad Ali beats Joe Frazier
"Thrilla in Manila" (October 1, 1975)

Muhammad Ali Fights
vs Liston & Foreman
Muhammad Ali is the first and only three-time lineal World Heavyweight Champion. He won 56 bouts with 37 knockouts. Nicknamed "The Greatest", Ali described his unorthodox fighting style as "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee". Ali knocked out Sonny Liston in the first round with a "phantom punch" to the head after 1-minute 52 seconds in Lewiston, Maine (May 25, 1965). He used techniques such as Ali Shuffle and rope-a-dop to knock out George Foreman iIn "Rumble in the Jungle" (Zaire, October 30, 1974). In Ali's third fight with Joe Frazier promoted as "The Thrilla in Manila", he beats Frazier after 14 grueling rounds. Interviewed on radio when he was heavyweight champion, Ali was asked if he'd land his knockout punch on a mugger wielding a knife in a dark alley. Ali said, "I'd turn the other way and run!" I was shocked to hear this from a boxing champion and realized he had real courage.
Photo Sources: MuhammadAli-SonnyListon (; Ali-Foreman (; Ali-Frazier (

If geese are flying in Λ-formation
and the Platonic Lambda symbolizes
Soul of the Universe— what happens
when two World Souls come in collision?

Geese Flying
in Λ-Formation

Platonic Lambda
"Soul of the Universe"

&Lambda-Formation Geese
"World Souls in Collision"

The English letter "V" is better known than the Greek letter "Λ", so the image of "geese flying in V-formation" stuck. But closer look of geese's actual flying pattern shows it's the Λ shape rather than the V-formation. The geese leading the pack resembles the number "1" at the apex of the Platonic Lambda from which the double & triple interval series follow. Plato calls this "Soul of the Universe" or "World Soul" (Timaeus 35b). While Platonists adhered to "One Over Many", Plato had a vision of both— "From the gods a gift to the human race: thus I reckon the gift of seeing the One in the many and the many in the One." (Philebus, 16d).
Photo Sources: Geese in Λ-Formation (WisdomPortal); Platonic Lambda (WisdomPortal); "World Souls in Collision" (rendered in Photoshop, WisdomPortal)

Our neighbor Andromeda Galaxy with
trillion of stars is twice the Milky Way
and they'll collide in four billion years.

Andromeda Galaxy

Milky Way Galaxy

Sun orbits Milky Way Galaxy in 230 million years

Andromeda & Milky Way Collision
Our universe is 14 billion years old with 200 billion galaxies. Our Milky Way Galaxy is 13.2 billion years old with 300 billion stars. Our solar system, containing the Sun and planets, is about 2/3 of the way out from the center of the Galaxy. The Sun is a middle-aged star, formed about 4.57 billion years ago from the collapse of part of a giant molecular cloud that consisted mostly of hydrogen and helium. It does not have enough mass to explode as a supernova. Instead, in about 5 billion years, it will enter a red giant phase and fade as a white dwarf over many billion of years. Our nearest spiral galaxy, the Andromeda Galaxy (Video) has a trillion stars. It is twice the size of the Milky Way Galaxy, and 2.5 million light years from Earth. The two galaxies are expected to collide in 3.75 billion years, eventually merging to form a giant elliptical galaxy.
Photo Sources: Andromeda (; Milky Way (; Sun Orbiting Milky Way (; Collision Scenario (

Computer simulations show stars inside
each galaxy are so far apart that the two
galaxies will form a giant elliptical galaxy.
So when World Souls collide, they'll not
destroy each other but merge in love as One.

Andromeda Galaxy & Milky Way Galaxy
come in collision in 3.75 billion years

Andromeda stretched & Milky Way warped
as they come together in 4 billion years

Andromeda & Milky Way merged to form
huge bright elliptical galaxy in 7 billion years

Our Milky Way Galaxy will collide with its neighboring Andromeda Galaxy 3.75 billion years from now. It is likely the sun will be flung into a new region of our galaxy, but our Earth and solar system are in no danger of being destroyed. The solution came through painstaking NASA Hubble Space Telescope measurements of the motion of Andromeda, which also is known as M31. The galaxy is now 2.5 million light-years away, but it is inexorably falling toward the Milky Way under the mutual pull of gravity between the two galaxies and the invisible dark matter that surrounds them both. Although the galaxies will plow into each other, stars inside each galaxy are so far apart that they will not collide with other stars during the encounter. However, the stars will be thrown into different orbits around the new galactic center. Simulations show that our solar system will probably be tossed much farther from the galactic core than it is today. It is amazing that when the two galaxies come in collision, they form the Platonic Lambda Λ— shape of Plato's "World Soul". Since each soul is assigned to a star (Plato's Timaeus 41c), we may compare the galactical collision of Andromeda and the Milky Way as collision between World Souls. Computer simulations from Hubble Space Telescope data show that stars within these two galaxies will not destroy each other but merge as one huge elliptical Galaxy with bright core dominates the nighttime sky.
Photo Sources: Andromeda-Milky Way Collision (; Andromed Stretched & Milky Way Warped (; Galaxies Merged (

— Peter Y. Chou
    Mountain View, 10-11-2012

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