Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Mighty Cicada



This is a picture of the loudest insect on earth: the cicada. Cicadas live as larvae under the ground for over a decade, then they come out, they sing their song, lay eggs or fertilize eggs, and then die. I think of them as magic creatures, prehistoric, wise, and powerful. How else can such a small thing make such a big noise but magic. Yes it's physics, but the best magic is always based on the material nature of the world.

I bring cicadas up because one of my students brought in two of the largest cicadas I've ever seen to class today. Everyone except him and me freaked out. The cicadas stayed speechless, stunned by their erstwhile captivity. If aliens tried to contact intelligent life on earth during august, all they would hear was a relentless metallic buzz, drowning out the traffic and the conversations below.

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