n : a star that explodes and becomes extremely luminous in the process
From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English:
Luminous \Lu”mi*nous\, a. [L. luminosus, fr. lumen light: cf. F. lumineux.]
1. Shining; emitting or reflecting light; brilliant; bright; as, the is a luminous body; a luminous color.
2. Illuminated; full of light; bright; as, many candles made the room luminous.
3. Enlightened; intelligent; also, clear; intelligible; as, a luminous mind.
Have you noticed I like the dictionary? I often feel like I have an expansive vocabulary, yet I get a bit paranoid about whether I’m spelling words correctly and using them appropriately (when I’m not mangling them on purpose with Spoonerisms or just saying things bass ackwards). Rather than stay in my state of word paranoia I flip open the dictionary. Often this leads to some interesting implications depending on the word(s) under consideration.
Today I was working on voicing the idea that it often takes me getting hit from many directions with an idea before it comes into my awareness and I act on it. The metaphor that came to mind is that of a nuclear reaction: you have to have forces acting from all sides to compress the fuel to the point where it begins to produce energy on its own.
I looked up Atomic Bomb and Hydrogen Bomb but they didn’t have quite the connotations I wanted. Then I started to listen to the little voice in the back of my head said “what about those really big nuclear reactors in the sky? Check ‘supernova’.” Again that didn’t feel quite right so I kept checking synonyms and got distracted by the phrase “Red Dwarf” (the title of a favorite scifi BritCom). I finally came back to supernova and on a whim (that little voice again?) I checked luminous.
The first two definitions of luminous were pretty much what I expected. The third was where I had my “aha!” moment. Now supernova almost exactly described what I was after in the first place! I am bombarded with ideas all the time. (Are they like cosmic rays? Where do they come from? How do we detect them? Can they be harnessed to produce a useful energy source?) The fun starts when I hear the same basic idea from multiple sources, in multiple contexts, in multiple forms. Then I stand a chance of going “supernova” and becoming luminous — enlightened, intelligent, and/or clear, intelligible.
What does this have to do with anything? If you’ve been subscribed to the newsletter for more than a week you’ll have seen my KAB theory. In the supernova dictionary search it was a matter of being aware of what the recurring themes were, and doing something with that. If you don’t feel like you know enough on a topic decide to do something like pull out a dictionary. Once you bring all three (knowledge, awareness, and behavior) into play then watch for the nuclear reaction (the spontaneous generation of energy from formerly inert concepts) and the luminosity (intelligence and clarity).
To wrap up today’s physics metaphor, a wonky syllogism:
Matter is energy.
Thinking takes energy.
Therefore your thoughts matter!
(Apologies to those mathemagicians offended by my pop-logic — including myself!)