Posted tagged ‘Cats’

Enough With The Guns, Already. Time For Death By Cosmic Walls of Fire

December 21, 2012

I’ve been detecting just a bit of battle-weariness on the intertubes today.  I’ve got a bunch more gun posts up my sleeve, but I can see how a diet of lead, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, might wear a little thin.  So here’s an olive-branch — something to feed your head, completely sorrow free.

My science writing buddy Jennifer Ouellette (my interview with her here) has a really excellent piece up at ScientificAmerican.com on a new puzzle roiling theoretical physics.  She writes about a paradox raised by a re-examination of an idea in black-hole physics long thought settled.

The question that prompted the latest discussion is what happens when you have a couple — people for now, by convention Bob and Alice — wandering through the cosmos.  But then, as Jennifer writes:

The adventurous, rather reckless Alice jumps into a very large black hole, leaving a presumably forlorn Bob outside the event horizon — a black hole’s point of no return, beyond which nothing, not even light, can escape.

Conventionally, physicists have assumed that if the black hole is large enough, Alice won’t notice anything unusual as she crosses the horizon. In this scenario, colorfully dubbed “No Drama,” the gravitational forces won’t become extreme until she approaches a point inside the black hole called the singularity. There, the gravitational pull will be so much stronger on her feet than on her head that Alice will be “spaghettified.”

Now a new hypothesis is giving poor Alice even more drama than she bargained for. If this alternative is correct, as the unsuspecting Alice crosses the event horizon, she will encounter a massive wall of fire that will incinerate her on the spot. As unfair as this seems for Alice, the scenario would also mean that at least one of three cherished notions in theoretical physics must be wrong.

From that pyrotechnic foundation, Jennifer then tells a fascinating story that both gives an account of the confusion and excitement this line of thought has produced — and along the way, provides a nice insight into the style of thought that (some) theoreticians use to pursue ideas far into the deep.

So, if you’ve had enough of murder and mayhem here on this vale of tears, here’s a chance to take yourself quite a good way out of the everyday.

Now, no post like this would be complete without (a) the appropriate sound track, and (b) given that I’ve invited you into the hairy realm of quantum mechanics, a cat picture:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This one illustrates why I feel a moral obligation not to fold laundry prematurely.

It’s Too Hot To Blog Plus Bonus Kitteh And The Obligatory Link To Charlie Pierce

May 26, 2012

Ponderous here in the Hub of the Universe.  Hot, humid — summer in May.

I’m trying to recover and get a bit done while the munchkin naps.

But as I make my move, what do I find at my desk?

This:

I’m guessing Tikka is saying “Don’t even think about working today.”

Not bad advice, actually.

As for the ritual nod in Charles Pierce’s direction…Charlie has written a truly fine Memorial Day piece.  A sample, his conclusion:

On Memorial Day, when I visit the family plots in the old cemetery in Worcester when they’ve planted my forebears, I always wander over to one of the older sections where lie interred the veterans of the Grand Army Of The Republic, row after row of those round, generic tablets, each of them weathered and indistinguishable now from all the others. Memorial Day, after all, is a product of their war. Abraham Lincoln presaged it in the peroration of his magnificent Second Inaugural Address:

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan-to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.

After Lincoln’s murder, the spirit of his remarks took hold in curious ways. On May 1, 1865, freed black slaves gathered to honor the Union prisoners who’d been buried in unmarked graves at the Charleston Race Course in South Carolina. Elsewhere, in the South, what was first known as Decoration Day became essential to the Lost Cause mythology that became so destructive to the descendants of those freedmen who’d honored the Union dead in Charleston. Supporting The Troops always has been a more complicated business than applauding at the ballpark.

The whole essay is more than worth your time.

With that — it’s all yours. What’s on for your holiday weekend?

Friday Inanity: Stupid Cat Pictures Dept.

November 21, 2008

Mental Health Break

November 11, 2008

Because anything is better than fixing bad footnotes written and forgotten 18 months ago:


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