The Sometimes Unseen Power of Light

The Sometimes Unseen Power of Light

By John Bishop, Director of Communications


A view of a black hole...


Lessons on light from a black hole...

This morning (Monday, January 22nd), in a kind of coda to our work and his words about light, Head of School Dan Schiebe counterbalanced the task-oriented nature of LA’s traditional Monday assembly with some mind-blowing thoughts on black holes.

As Lawrence Academy marks the unofficial halfway point of the 2023 - 2024 school year, and we do so in the midst of some of the coldest and darkest days of winter, Scheibe sought to give credence to the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel; a belief that light remains even when students, faculty, staff, and families are hard pressed to see it.

“I happened to be reading the ough a magazine, and they referred to an astrophysicist named Priyamvada Natarajan - an astrophysicist who studies black holes,” began Mr. Scheibe, grounding the discussion in some simple explanation of some complicated celestial phenomenon. “Black holes are so powerful that they actually suck in light.

“They’re the most profound example of an absence of light,” he said.

However, Dan also noted that Natajan told the Yale Alumni Magazine (YAM), “I’m obsessed by light... Light, and the invisible universe, and how light actually also strangely illuminates the unseen universe.”

For example, the astronomer explained the nature of a quasar and how we on Earth can see the astrological phenomenon.

She told YAM writer Kathrin Day Lassila that black holes, when they are “actively growing” and “supermassive,” actually pull in gas. Then this gas heats up.

“That’s what you see as the quasar light,” said Natarajan, “the dying gasps of the gas before it is pulled [into a black hole].”

Thus, the absence of light creates some mighty light.

Harkening back to LA’s discussion of symbolic light, as connected to the idea of creative altruism (through the school’s motto, Omnibus Lucet), Scheibe added, “So the thought that light has this power, even in what you can’t see, even maybe some moments where there’s the absence of light.

“And as we make our way towards lighter days where there’d be more visible light, just remember all the things we cannot see.”

Thankfully, those things include kindness, compassion, and care for one another at LA. So, today, hold the door, pick up the litter, and check in on friends.

Omnibus lucet, indeed, Spartans! Have a great week...