... n. but blown dandelions in Elysian fields

Be still, my soul, be still; the arms you bear are


Earth and high heaven are fixt of old and founded


A.E. Housman 1859-1936

Neutrinos are tiny. Literally 'small neutral one' in Italian and having an almost nonzero mass, these happy babes can travel close to the speed of light and are electrically neutral. Certain kinds of nuclear activity or radioactive decay that takes place between cosmic rays and atoms or in the sun can produce neutrinos.

Underground at Kamiokako Mountain in Gifu Prefecture, Japan, is Super-Kamiokande, an observatory that studies the neutrino family (there are three neutrino 'flavours' - muon, tauon and electron) in the solar system as well as searching for proton decay and watching for supernovas in the Milky Way Galaxy.

Supernovae occur when giant stars collapse and explode, releasing so much energy that compared to them the sun's heat is a backyard bonfire. Their light travels trillions of miles (a light year is about 6 trillion) to reach Earth. If you saw a supernova, and you would need a telescope, you would be witnessing an artefact, a small cosmic presence, from millions of years ago, just reaching the Earth.

Your retinas are lined with photoreceptive cells that turn the light that falls onto them into electrical impulses, which are in turn sent to your brain and constructed as images. To see a supernova, not just a photo, would mean that cells in your body were physically changed by original light that travelled for millions of years to reach your eyes. And then it would be gone.

Nothing stills, the heavens are not fixed, particles blow about us like dandelion tufts in summer's haze and right now, far away, stars may be exploding and though we will never see them, in millions of years, someone may.

Is there something more grand than that?