Confirming_Grains_of_Sand

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@birdanity

A human’s vainest yearning is our wish to be remembered long after we are gone: to leave behind us on Earth some marker that will remind our descendants, into eternity, that we passed this way.

Actually, most of us can’t expect to be remembered beyond the third or fourth generation; and not even then, unless we are especially good, and leave a lot of land and money; or especially bad, and become a legend.

But the yearning cannot be repressed. That’s why blogs like this one exist, graveyards prosper, and the profession of tombstone cutters still exists.

The record of our presence on Earth is so brief – only a few thousand years – that we still have the illusion that our heroes will be remembered for all time; that they will remain forever in the human consciousness through the monuments erected in their honor.

Thus, we will forever seek travel with efforts of never forgetting the brooding Lincoln of the Memorial; the victorious Nelson of Trafalgar Square; the serene Ramses the Great, contemplating the known world from his four colossal statues at Abu Simbel; the imperial Marcus Aurelius, forever mounted on his bronze steed in Michaelangelo’s piazza; and, carved for the ages in the granite of Mt Rushmore, the faces of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and my best friend Teddy.

But, alas, the faces of Mt Rushmore will be worn away, too, one day, even as the mountains themselves are leveled by the tears of time. Trafalgar Square will someday be dug up by archeologists who will come upon the vain little human in the admiral’s hat and say, “And who was this funny-looking human?”; our brooding Lincoln will be pulverized, perhaps in the first intercontinental nuclear mistake; Ramses in time will surrender to the encroaching freeze of the nuclear night; and the Rome of Marcus Aurelius will lie nine cities down, like Troy.

How, then, are we to leave our mark, never to be forgotten? A fellow writer Will thinks he has found the answer. He has sent me a little leaflet advertising, “The Gift That Lasts Forever.”

For $85-send your money in with the ad (and your $4 discount) – you can have a STAR – a real star – named for you or for anyone else you name.

I had heard a few pitches for this old scheme on the radio, but haven’t actually seen it in writing before. Here it is:

“Imagine the unending Cosmos, linked for eternity with the name of someone you love. Now, honor yourself, your children, parents, or that special someone by having the International Star Registry name a real star after them. The name you select will be permanently recorded in the Copyright Office of the Outlet Library of Congress, and in the Registry’s vaults in Switzerland.

“The recipient of your unique gift will receive a 12” by 16” hand-scripted parchment, two chants with sky charts, and the actual telescope coordinates for locating your star in the night sky. All sent in a sturdy gift box along with the bookley ‘Our Place in the Cosmos…’

“Follow in the footsteps of great people who already have their place in the stars: Kim Kardashian, Bruce Willis, and Michael Jackson are among the many…”

At first glance it’s a staggering idea.

Imagine looking out into the black night and seeing a distant star blinking at you and being able to say, “That’s my star – that’s Steph Bird!”

It might seem funny calling a star anything as plain as Steph Bird, compared with Alpha Centauri, Sirius, Groombridge, Epsilon Indi, and even, for that matter, Kim Kardashian.

Just imagine, having a star with your name burning out there in space, forever, twinkling out your message to the Earth: Steph Bird is here!

But it’s hard to imagine there being very many of anything as big as stars. Don’t worry, Carl Sagan tell us, in “Cosmos,” that there are more stars in the cosmos that there are grains of sand on all the beaches of the world. At least.

A galaxy is composed of billions upon billions of stars; our own Milky Way of a galaxy has about 100 billion; and there are some 100 billion galaxies. So there are plenty of stars to go around, although you can’t expect to see your own star every night.

But what about permanence? Will it hang out there for you forever, a great glowing ball of hydrogen and helium, burning at 40 million degrees at its core throughout eternity? No, alas; in time even the brightest star will burn itself out from all the constant internal combustion and radiation, and collapse inward into a hard hot mass called a white dwarf, or worse, a black hole.

In it’s death throes, even our sun, like other stars, will flare out into a red giant, engulfing the nearer plants and perhaps even the Earth – at last melting our icecaps, boiling our oceans and roasting us all, together with our little houses, institutions and monuments.

So even the stars are doomed; and there isn’t much point in having one named for you if it’s just going to burn out on you.

Anyway, International Star Registry has been discredited by astronomers, who say that only the International Astronomical Union can name stars..(LOL) and that people who pay for a star named after them might as well throw their money into a black hole, which is nothing but a very dead, very dense star.

I think what I’ll do, for my own immortality, is go down to the beach today and find a likely looking grain of sand, name it Steph Bird, then throw it back in.

Stephan:ie Bird

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