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Dan’s Papers February 4, 2011 Page 15

Think Snow From Universe to Galaxy to Solar System to the East End By Dan Rattiner The Hubble Observatory has reported the discovery of a galaxy that is older than any other observed before. It’s really, really far away, but the main thing is how old it is. Scientists tell us the universe banged into existence 12 billion years ago; this galaxy came into being about 800 million years after that bang. A newcomer. I think, sometimes, in times like this when we’ve just had a record 40 inches of snow in the Hamptons and more expected this week, to consider just where the hell we are here. And I am talking about where we are on a really, really big

level. It’s quite something. Here’s where I woke up this morning to find, once again, that I am in the same place I was yesterday morning and the morning before that. I and you, dear reader, stand on the rounded surface of a little tiny speck in a far corner of this ever-expanding universe, not so far into the corner as to be remarkable and not so far from the center as to be remarkable. We don’t stand out. We are in a galaxy of stars and planets in this corner—there are millions of galaxies, and our galaxy is a moderatly sized one in the shape of a pinwheel that has 14 curving arms, and where

we are in one of these arms is about halfway out one of the shorter ones. This galaxy banged into existence much later than the one we’ve just noticed, about halfway between the beginning and now. There’s an up and a down here. There’s the sky up there and the ground below our feet. The sky has clouds and air and the ground has dirt. It is also flat. No doubt about it. Or so it seems. Actually, none of it is what it seems. The sky is a vacuum once you get past the atmosphere of gasses held close to it by gravity. The specks are trillions of miles away, tantaliz(continued on next page)

A HAWK LOVE STORY ABOVE NEW YORK CITY By Dan Rattiner There were a lot of people out in the Hamptons recently with backpacks and field glasses. They were not Homeland Security people, and not Peeping Toms, at least not in the sense that the phrase means anyway. What they were were Toms looking at peepers. These bird watchers came from all over the country and they descended on Montauk and the Hamptons in great numbers for the annual bird count here, one of the great bird counting events in America. The deal is that the more species you see, the higher up you are in the world of bird lovers. Everybody keeps a notebook. When they see something new, they write it down. In honor of this annual pilgrimage, I thought to tell the story currently unfolding in New York

City, where they have fewer birds in the environment, and when they get an unusual one, it is a very big deal and the whole city pays attention. The bird I am speaking of, of course, is a very amorous and large wingspanned redtailed hawk. He’s been in town 20 years. People have given him a name—Pale Male. Birders see him every day. He swoops low over the trees in Central Park, gliding along on his great wings. He makes his way through the canyons of skyscrapers. With his wings spread, he is five feet across and is very unmistakable. And he lives there. A week ago, I was up visiting friends on the 21st floor of a 23-story residential skyscraper at the very northeasternmost corner of Central Park. This is at 120st Street and Fifth Avenue. This building was designed by the well-known

architect Robert E. M. Stern and the view from the glass windows there is spectacular. Fifth Avenue is just below. Beyond it is the pond, the Loeb boathouse and the skating rink and woods. And on this particular sunny day, there were a total of five giant hawks out there, swooping around over the park, at least one of which surely was Pale Male. Pale Male is unmistakable. Most red tailed hawks are light to dark all over with reddish brown tails. Pale Male has a white head. A fabulous, proud and amorous male, he has, over the years, fathered 12 other hawks and been a husband or mate to five different female hawks, one after another, as you might expect a powerful, royal fellow like him to have—one mate after (continued on page 18)

Dan's Papers Feb. 4 2011  

Dan's Papers, the 51-year-old bible of the Hamptons, is owned by Manhattan Media, a multi-media publishing company based in New York City,...