Monday, July 28, 2008

Diamonds. And a Poet's Sword.
A few interesting tidbits from the news, below. My faith in God is strong, and the idea that gorgeous gems played a part in this "elegant universe" is lovely, and appealing!
The second story I reprinted here, gives an update on a rather obscure, but very talented, long-dead Nicaraguan poet. I included one of his poems, beneath that article.
Diamonds May Have Jumpstarted Life on Earth
Robert Roy Britt
LiveScience Managing Editor
One of the greatest mysteries in science is how life began. Now one group of researchers says diamonds may have been life's best friend.
Scientists have long theorized that life on Earth got going in a primordial soup of precursor chemicals. But nobody knows how these simple amino acids, known to be the building blocks of life, were assembled into complex polymers needed as a platform for genesis.
Diamonds are crystallized forms of carbon that predate the oldest known life on the planet. In lab experiments aimed to confirm work done more than three decades ago, researchers found that when treated with hydrogen, natural diamonds formed crystalline layers of water on the surface. Water is essential for life as we know it. Also, the tests found electrical conductivity that could have been key to forcing chemical reactions needed to generate the first birth.
When primitive molecules landed on the surface of these hydrogenated diamonds in the atmosphere of early Earth, a few billion years ago, the resulting reaction may have been sufficient enough to generate more complex organic molecules that eventually gave rise to life, the researchers say.
The research, by German scientists Andrei Sommer, Dan Zhu, and Hans-Joerg Fecht at the University of Ulm, is detailed in the Aug. 6 issue of the American Chemical Society's journal Crystal Growth & Design. Funding was provided by the Landesstiftung Baden-Wurttemberg Bionics Network.
Another theory, called panspermia, holds that life on Earth arrived from space, as organisms rained down inside tiny meteors or giant comets.
The new research does not conclusively determine how life began, but it lends support to one possible way.
"Hydrogenated diamond advances to the best of all possible origin-of-life platforms," the researchers contend.
Nicaragua poet's sword mightier than pen. AP News service

The pen may be mightier than the sword, but it isn't quite as attractive for thieves.
Unidentified robbers have swiped a sword that belonged to Nicaraguan poet Ruben Dario from a museum while leaving some of his valuable original manuscripts untouched.
Museum secretary Maria Elena Quintero said Sunday that police are investigating the disappearance of the ceremonial sword Dario used when he served as Nicaragua's ambassador to Spain. She did not give an estimate of the sword's value.
It was taken from a glass case at the museum in Dario's old home in the colonial city of Leon. It appears to be the only artifact missing.
Dario lived from 1867 to 1916 and is considered the father of the Modernismo movement.
Hey kids, I selected one of his poems:


The voice that would reach you, Hunter, must speak
in Biblical tones, or in the poetry of Walt Whitman.
You are primitive and modern, simple and complex;
you are one part George Washington and one part Nimrod.
You are the United States,
future invader of our naive America
with its Indian blood, an America
that still prays to Christ and still speaks Spanish.

You are strong, proud model of your race;
you are cultured and able; you oppose Tolstoy.
You are an Alexander-Nebuchadnezzar,
breaking horses and murdering tigers.
(You are a Professor of Energy,
as current lunatics say).

You think that life is a fire,
that progress is an irruption,
that the future is wherever
your bullet strikes.

The United States is grand and powerful.
Whenever it trembles, a profound shudder
runs down the enormous backbone of the Andes.
If it shouts, the sound is like the roar of a lion.
And Hugo said to Grant: "The stars are yours."
(The dawning sun of the Argentine barely shines;
the star of Chile is rising..) A wealthy country,
joining the cult of Mammon to the cult of Hercules;
while Liberty, lighting the path
to easy conquest, raises her torch in New York.
But our own America, which has had poets
since the ancient times of Nezahualcóyolt;
which preserved the footprint of great Bacchus,
and learned the Panic alphabet once,
and consulted the stars; which also knew Atlantic
(whose name comes ringing down to us in Plato)
and has lived, since the earliest moments of its life,
in light, in fire, in fragrance, and in love-
- the America of Moctezuma and Atahualpa,
the aromatic America of Columbus,
Catholic America, Spanish America,
the America where noble Cuauthémoc said:
"I am not in a bed of roses"--our America,
trembling with hurricanes, trembling with Love:
O men with Saxon eyes and barbarous souls,
our America lives. And dreams. And loves.
And it is the daughter of the Sun. Be careful.
Long live Spanish America!
A thousand cubs of the Spanish lion are roaming free.
Roosevelt, you must become, by God's own will,
the deadly Rifleman and the dreadful Hunter
before you can clutch us in your iron claws.

And though you have everything, you are lacking one thing: God!
In reprinting it here, I encountered a few problems with reproducing it exactly, with the correct line-breaks, which is sooooo frustrating. You may also access this poem at:
This poem certainly works on many levels, and it certainly is still quite timely, despite Dario having lived only between 1867-1916. Educated by Jesuits, he apears to have rebelled against the Roman Catholic Church, though he also seems to take much pride in the culture of Catholicism.
I personally felt the downy blond hair on my arms rise when reading the lines about "our America lives." It is such a prophecy about Latin America, Central America, and their (impending) rise to power, and what it may give them: the status and wealth that the U.S. has always assumed was ours alone.
Peace, kids.


Lydia said...

This is a great post! I'm dazzled by the thought of diamonds as our seed. The poem is stupendous and your observations following ran along with my ah-hah moments while reading it. (Along the line of this country basking in a fading glory, I saw a blip on TV tonight about a special that Bob Woodruff is going to do soon about the advance of China. I just pulled this fascinating info from a Web article: "Before becoming a journalist, Woodruff was an attorney. But in 1989, while teaching law in Beijing, he was hired by CBS News to work as a translator during the Tiananmen Square uprising, and a short time later he changed careers." I wish I'd seen when this special is going to air....

Lisa Allender said...

Thanks, Lydia...Love your "Dazzled by diamonds..." comment! Appreciate all the compliments! And I wanna go "google" that special--that Bob Woodruff gets more fascinating every day!