Thursday, 21 May 2015

The Pulsar

Poul Anderson, Starfarers (New York, 1999).

"'One millionth Solar luminosity...shining from a body ten kilometers in diameter...'" (p. 260), therefore 19,000 times as intense in the visible spectrum, more in others;

the remnant of a supernova;

a mass of nearly one and a half Sols;

so small and dense that it is no longer atoms but only neutrons, possibly with some of those subatomic particles fused into hyperons at the center;

an atmosphere only a few centimeters deep, possibly of incandescent gaseous iron;

hundreds of spins per second;

a magnetic field that accelerates interstellar matter outward at near light speed;

a radio beacon detectable across the galaxy;

God speaking to Job out of the whirlwind - in the imagination of some human visitors.

As in Tau Zero, Anderson moves effortlessly between cosmic physics and questions of human existence.

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