Archive for: August, 2007

The Bird and the Dinosaur -- a parable

Aug 19 2007 Published by under Fiction

Two men sat at a table working on a large jigsaw puzzle. After some effort, they succeeded in putting together a small collection of pieces into the image of an eye.

"From the shape of the eye," said the first man, "It looks like the puzzle might be of a dinosaur."

"Nonsense," said the second man, "The eye is clearly that of a bird."

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A 'bizzare star', an incomplete explanation

Aug 17 2007 Published by under Science news

NASA just announced the discovery of a previously unnoticed astronomical phenomenon, a star exhibiting 'comet-like' behavior (H/T Personal Demon). This can be read about both on NASA's web page as well as through CNN.

A large star in its death throes is leaving a huge, turbulent tail of oxygen, carbon and nitrogen in its wake that makes it look like an immense comet hurtling through space, astronomers said on Wednesday.


Rocketing through our Milky Way galaxy at 80 miles per second -- literally faster than a speeding bullet -- the star is spewing material that scientists believe may be recycled into new stars, planets and maybe even life.

"We believe that the tail is made up of material that is being shed by the star which is heating up and then spiraling back into this turbulent wake," said astronomer Christopher Martin of California Institute of Technology, one of the researchers in the study published in the journal Nature.

There's something about the explanation, at least as presented, which seems to me to be highly misleading, and possibly wrong.

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William Hope Hodgson's The Night Land

Aug 16 2007 Published by under Fantasy fiction

There are a number of classic works of weird fantasy and horror which have been lost from the mainstream but are well worth a look. One of these is William Hope Hodgson's The Night Land.

Hodgson (1877-1918) was a colorful character who turned to weird fiction late in life after, among other things, working as a sailor. He wrote numerous short stories about the sea and its horrors. The story The Voice in the Night, for instance, concerns a couple shipwrecked on an island whose only occupant is a corrupting fungus. This tale was much later adapted into the Japanese horror movie Matango, more commonly known as The Attack of the Mushroom People. I remember seeing this film numerous times on Sunday morning 'Creature Features'.

The Night Land is one of Hodgson's handful of novels, and is worth a mention not just because of its haunting imagery but also because its premise is relevant to an overarching theme of the weird fiction of the early 1900's.

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The cult of (anti-)personality

Aug 15 2007 Published by under Entertainment

A few years back, a friend of mine recommended the movie The Mothman Prophesies, which happens to star Richard Gere (more on that film in another post). Beyond really enjoying the film, I decided that I really liked Richard Gere as an actor again. It was then that I realized that I had no idea why I didn't like Richard Gere in the first place.

Why do I mention this? A recent post by PZ Myers on Pharyngula rather cynically, for my taste, took some shots at the Harry Potter series as a whole:

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Educate or Bust

Aug 14 2007 Published by under Personal

Welcome to my new weblog! The title of this post refers to the title of an unpublished Robert E. Howard story, and also sounds like a perfect way to describe my goals here. I'm a professor of physics who has been flitting and fighting around the blogosphere for some time, and decided it was time to try my hand at this 'blogging' thing. For an explanation about the title of the blog, see the 'about' page. Some of my influences and inspirations can, of course, be found in the blogroll.

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