From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

White dwarf and red giant: The yin yang of it all recently reported that the Harvard College Observatory has a unique set of 500,000 astronomical photographic plates that were made during the period of the 1880s through the 1980s. 

Researchers are studying these plates in order to view the variability of stars during this approximately 100-year time span.  Within the data, pairs of stars were discovered in which one is hot and the other is cold.  An example of this “symbiotic star” phenomenon is when a white dwarf and a red giant orbit one another.

Wikipedia reports that the white dwarf is a “small star composed mostly of electron degenerate matter.”  Its high density results in a mass comparable with the Sun’s and a volume comparable with the Earth’s.  When first formed, it is intensely hot – and remains that way for quite a long time.  A red giant, on the other hand, has an immense radius and a relatively low surface temperature.

The symbiotic dance that these stars do with one another can be thought of as a yin-yang connection. explains that the Ancient Chinese studied natural patterns and relationships rather than isolated things.  They viewed the world, and even the universe, “as a harmonious and holistic entity.”  The origin of yin yang theory came from their observations of the natural environment.  For example, they would note that day and night were continuously evolving from one another.  They would also note the sunny and shady components of the same slope.

“Cold” is traditionally associated with yin, and “hot” with yang.  Wikipedia explains that yin and yang complement rather than oppose one another.  These “seemingly contrary forces” are actually “interconnected and interdependent in the natural world.”  In Taoist philosophy, a balance between the two is valued, and favoritism is avoided.  Both are needed –  whether one is dancing with the stars, or watching the stars
dance with one another.


Copyright January 31, 2012 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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