Each morning for quite some time now I go to the often quite spectacular APOD website. Today's entry on Zeta Oph (below) struck me and provoked the following train of thought.
As the astronomer states: "Zeta Oph is 65,000 times more luminous than the Sun and would be one of the brighter stars in the sky if it weren't surrounded by obscuring dust....Its strong stellar wind precedes it, compressing and heating the dusty interstellar material and shaping the curved shock front."
A number of ideas immediately leapt to mind. They were, not necessarily in this precise order, Riemann's seminal paper on the propagation of shockwaves and my extrapolation of its principle as a driver of human history; a passage from Augustine's City of God on why the truths in Christianity must be searched for; and the "Olber's paradox" (which it turns out was actually formulated first by Johannes Kepler and that Poe in his Eureka also grappled with as well.)