In memory of Raymond Davis, Jr. [Oct 14, 1914-May 31, 2006]
A mile down the Homestake Mine, delve for riches rarer than gold.
In darkness, in the hot depths, search for evidence, a sign:
chlorine transforming to argon in the alchemy of neutrinos.
Insubstantial, invisible, unveiled by their actions.
Messengers born in brightness, forged in the Sun’s fire.
— Mary Soon Lee
Mary Soon Lee was born and raised in London, but now lives in Pittsburgh. She writes both fiction and poetry, and has won the Rhysling Award and the Elgin Award. Her book Elemental Haiku, containing haiku for each element of the periodic table, will be published by Ten Speed Press in October 2019. Her poetry has appeared in Analog, Asimov’s, F&SF, Science, and Strange Horizons. She has an antiquated website at http://www.marysoonlee.com and tweets at @MarySoonLee
Editor’s Notes: An experiment headed by astrophysicists Raymond Davis, Jr. and John N. Bahcall in the late 1960s at the Homestake Gold Mine in Lead, South Dakota, successfully collected and counted solar neutrinos emitted by nuclear fusion the Sun’s core using a 100,000 gallon tank of perchloroethylene (a dry-cleaning liquid) 4,850 feet underground to shield from cosmic neutrinos. Chlorine-37 interacts with a solar neutrino of the right energy and transforms into a radioactive argon-37 atom, which is extracted and counted. Davis’s detector was sensitive to only one type of neutrino; it was unknown at the time, but later discovered that neutrinos could change their flavor (a quantum mechanical state) via neutrino oscillations. Davis shared the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physics with Masatoshi Koshiba of Japan and Riccardo Giacconi of the US.
The graph of the (long range) electron neutrino oscillations is superimposed on a colorful image of the sun (https://i.ytimg.com/vi/2U3ucaVzRqQ/maxresdefault.jpg). The three flavors are that of an electron neutrino (black), a muon neutrino (blue) and a tau neutrino (red).
His years of duty ended,
still the captain stood watch
over his king,
night after night.
Hung in honor on the wall,
the iron-forged blade
the captain once wielded
in the king’s defense.
In the captain’s hands
that blade’s twinned shadow,
both sword and man reduced
to air and captured moonlight.
— Mary Soon Lee
Mary Soon Lee was born and raised in London, but now lives in Pittsburgh. She has won the Elgin Award and the Rhysling Award for her poetry, and has had over three hundred poems published in markets ranging from the American Scholar to Heroic Fantasy Quarterly and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. A dozen of her poems may be read at http://www.thesignofthedragon.com
Editor’s Notes: Image is a collage of the Sword of Goujian, the real king’s sword, a dragon, and the B&W Nagoya Castle by Moonlight by Philip Hunt.
Scene: Prince Keng sitting on a rock. The dragon enters, flying down.
DRAGON Good morning, Princeling. Have you come to
admire my magnificence?
KENG My father sent me. He said you would teach me
to be king.
DRAGON Your father? Your father is your greatest
threat aside from me.
The dragon menaces the boy, who holds his place.
DRAGON Good. You’re brave. You’ll make a fine king.
Now go away.
KENG That’s all? Don’t you have advice for me?
DRAGON An excellent habit for a king, thinking.
You should try it more often.
KENG [Kneeling] Please. Teach me what a king
DRAGON A king should know that he cannot know
all he should know. Men’s lives are
KENG Then teach me what I most need to know.
DRAGON I tried to do so. Perhaps you weren’t
KENG You said men’s lives are short. That my
father is my greatest threat–why? Why is
he a threat?
DRAGON Because men will measure you against him,
and find you lacking. No matter how hard
you try, his reputation will outmatch you
as the tiger outmatches the rabbit.
KENG That would be true of anybody you chose as
king. No one can equal him.
DRAGON No one? As for you, if you ever take the
throne, I advise you to begin badly.
Quickly quash people’s hopes. Then any
mistakes you make will be no more than they
expect, and any successes will appear the
KENG If I am king, I will do the best I can.
From the beginning.
KENG But you just said I should begin badly–
DRAGON Indeed. And I may argue the merits of that
at a later date. What pleased me is that
you didn’t blindly agree. However wise his
advisors, a king should weigh their words
for himself. And so ends your first lesson.
You may come back tomorrow.
Keng bows, turns to leave, turns back.
KENG What would you have done if I’d left when
you first told me to go?
DRAGON Eaten you.
–Mary Soon Lee
Mary Soon Lee was born and raised in London, but now lives in Pittsburgh. She is working on an epic fantasy in verse, the first book of which has been nominated for the Elgin Award (“Crowned,” Dark Renaissance Books, 2015). The opening poem, “Interregnum,” won the 2014 Rhysling Award for best long poem.