The birth of solid matter

« At daybreak », in Cosmicomics, Italo Calvino, pub. du Seuil, coll « Points », trans. Jean Thibaudeau, 1968 (1è publication 1963), pp. 24-26.

The solar system’s planets, explains G. P. Kuiper, started solidifying in darkness through the condensation of a fluid and shapeless nebula. All was cold and black. Later on, the Sun started gathering in on itself, until it practically shrunk to its current dimensions. This way, its temperature increased to thousands of centigrade degrees, and radiations started streaming out into space.


Oddly dark indeed, confirmed the old Qfwfq, I was still a child back then, I barely remember it at all. We used to stand there, with dad and mum, grandma Bb’b, a few uncles who had come to visit, M. Hnw, who later on became a horse, and us little’uns […] We didn’t lay outside, on the surface of the cloud, you see; no, it was too cold; we were underneath, as if we were tucked in a bed, inside a fluid and grainy bed. There was no way to measure time […]. We also wanted to let the centuries go by as if they had been minutes; all we had to do is wait […].

We just wanted to let this huge night go by. […]petite illustration

My father was the first to notice any change.

I was asleep when his cry woke me up :

_ Watch out! Our feet touch!

Below us, the cloud’s matter, fluid though it had been, had started condensing. […]

I heard my brother Rwzfs, a child at the time, how can I put it? Hit, dig, basically moving around, and I asked :

_ What are you doing?

And he said :

_ Playing.

_ You’re playing? What with?

_ With something, he said.  

You see, it was the first time. There had never been any-thing with which to play before. How could we? Play with gas? If Rwzsf was playing, then it meant that he had found something new; so much so that later on, he said he had found a stone, which was an exaggeration as he used to do all the time. Not a stone, no, most definitely not, but perhaps a gathering of some form of solid matter or – if you will – a less gassy kind of matter. […]

Illustration apparition de la matière solide

The death of a star : infrared imagery of the remains of a supernova. The cold gas shell appears in blue, about 300 000 billion km from the invisible dying star, in the center of the bubble. In that gas shell, many stars similar to our Sun will come to life.




1. The family lives :


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