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Travelogue D7

April 29, 2015

As in all museums, my attention waned with passing time and left behind the repeated greeting of “Salut, la cellule”. So, I began to take in the sights at the room’s periphery, the sort of unintentional displays which are inevitably found in museums. In one cabinet, the museum lighting threw the forms of ammonites and support rods onto the back wall in such a way that new species of shadowy molluscs and organs bloomed there. From fossils of a different world, half-seen, I moved onto a black wall to which the curators had seen fit to stick glass half-spheres. The glass left me with the impression of bubbles emerging from a smooth plane to float. As seen from the side, I could make out something of the room in the half-sphere. Yet its dimensions and content were skewed by the laws of this bubble world in miniature, laws about which I knew too little.

Before leaving behind “Origins”, I leaned over one of the final display cabinets, which held an array of space body fragments having made their way to Earth. One legend told the story of glass found in the Libyan desert, the examination of which suggested a comet exploding in the upper atmosphere. Upon reaching land, the resulting fireball had superheated the desert sands and left in its wake the traces of its work long after passage. In the harsh museum lighting, nose above the pane, I found it difficult to determine the exact color of the shard, be it a jaundice, mint jelly or other.

The same case held a fragment of an Itqiy meteorite, likewise from the Sahara. Though I gathered from the text that its own precise origins were unclear, scientists did agree on the star from which it had likely been born, our own sun. The heat had left its mark upon the meteor as seen in its differentiated formation. Accretion of materials had led to fusion, which had in turn caused the structure to separate into layers such that the cross-section reveals a marble-speckled inside, flecks ranging in color from peridot to white, the whole bound within a crust at times black, at times, ocher. In this way, I found myself before a map of sorts, splayed out in the precise but volatile way of differentiated meteriorites.


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