Department header
Bewildering Stories

Pioneer 10

Rebecca Lu Kiernan

I enjoyed David Barber’s “Pioneer 10 at the Heliopause.” It is amazing to think this messenger could wander 2 million years, and to speculate that long after we have surely fallen extinct, some unimaginable being might know we existed.

I appreciated the line “Even metal sighs itself away” and feel it was lovely how he ended it with the hope that someone might be “Woken by the barking in the night.”

This piece shows elegance and restraint. Yes, this poet has a certain cool-headedness that bothers me in some quirky, enjoyable way. Would you let him know I enjoyed the work?

Rebecca Lu Kiernan

Copyright © 2013 by Rebecca Lu Kiernan

Pioneer 10 launch
Launch of Pioneer 10
on March 2, 1972
to the asteroid belt, Jupiter,
and the stars
Thank you for the appreciation, Rebecca; such feedback does wonders for both the contributors’ and readers’ morale. And of course I forward all such messages immediately to the authors with our standard invitation to reply directly to the sender.

Does outer space contain Heaven? Hell? Neither? Both? As one known, perhaps, for taking the “long view,” I sympathize with your view of Pioneer 10 as a kind of prayer launched into the outer darkness.

But as the poem suggests, we might be careful what we ask for. Space aliens may already tying on bibs for dinner and hoisting knife and fork while jetting in the direction of the tasty-looking morsels on the Third Planet. Is the Pioneer 10 Anomaly sending a warning?

Scholars and scientists can be a killjoy lot at times. Astrophysicist Slava G. Turyshev has painstakingly determined the cause of Pioneer 10’s slowing as it reached interstellar space. The gist is that Einstein was right again: uneven heat radiation has created drag.

Perhaps in 2 million years the inhabitants of Aldebaran will send us a reply. Let’s hope their red giant will not have gone supernova before then.

But take heart: Lavoisier was right, too. “Nothing is lost, nothing is created; in nature, everything is transformed.”


Copyright © 2013 by Don Webb

Home Page