Cosmigraph No. 28: “Plasma Crown”
Created: 2021 | Los Angeles, CA
Part of my Cosmigraphs series.
The four classical elements of ancient and medieval cosmology are, in order of decreasing density and ascending fineness:
Thus, earth sinks beneath water, which sinks beneath air, which sinks beneath fire. This was according to the Aristotelian conception that all things move according to each seeking their proper place in the universe. For this reason, in the geocentric model of the universe, the earth was depicted as having a halo of fire around it.
The four elements roughly correspond to the four states of matter known to commonly occur in the universe:
and Plasma, which is a gas of ionized atoms (in other words, an electrically-charged gas).
According to current scientific theories, plasma is also the most common form of ordinary matter in the universe.
While it may seem a matter of pure superstition to have imagined a layer of fire covering the outermost reaches of the earth, we do nevertheless know that the earth's atmosphere is topped with plasma, atmospheric gasses ionized due to contact with solar ultraviolet radiation, in a region referred to as the ionosphere. Plasma is the same state of matter as that found in stars, and it’s the source of the upper atmospheric polar light shows called auroras. In other words, the ancient and medieval conception was correct: the earth wears a crown of plasmic “fire.”
“Love is a burning thing
And it makes a fiery ring”
- Johnny Cash, Ring of Fire