Harvard's Alma Mater was revised in reference to Astronomy

March 27, 2018

From ITC Director Avi Loeb:

By now, you have received the letter attached below from President Drew Faust regarding the implementation of the report of the "Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging". As a member of this Task Force, it is my pleasure to report that the last line of Harvard's Alma Mater was revised in reference to Astronomy:

Lyrics to Fair Harvard
Fair Harvard! we join in thy Jubilee throng,
And with blessings surrender thee o’er
By these Festival-rites, from the Age that is past,
To the Age that is waiting before.
O Relic and Type of our ancestors’ worth,
That hast long kept their memory warm,
First flow’r of their wilderness! Star of their night!
Calm rising thro’ change and thro’ storm.

Farewell! be thy destinies onward and bright!
To thy children the lesson still give,
With freedom to think, and with patience to bear,
And for Right ever bravely to live.
Let not moss-covered Error moor thee at its side,
As the world on Truth’s current glides by;
Be the herald of Light, and the bearer of Love,
Till the stars in the firmament die.

(New last line by Janet Pascal, A.B.’84.)

The lowest mass stars (having about 7% of the mass of the Sun) are predicted to live up to ten trillion years, about a thousand times longer than the current age of the Universe. In a forthcoming paper with ITC postdoc, John Forbes, we study the longest living stars in great detail, but do not address what will happen to Harvard and its Alma Mater beyond this time horizon. There is plenty of time left to contemplate that.