Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Extraordinary Claims

"What counts is not what sounds plausible, not what we would like to believe, not what one or two witnesses claim, but only what is supported by hard evidence rigorously and skeptically examined. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."

- Carl Sagan

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Pale Blue Dot

I never get tired of this one.

Monday, November 11, 2013

What is Music?

Music is noise submitted to order by wisdom.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Best Thoughts

The best thoughts are the most delicate,
Fastest, trickiest to capture. 
Lepidoptera so different on the wing, 
Than when caught, killed,
And proudly displayed.

-Randy Road

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The New "Cosmos"

This looks cool: Neil deGrasse Tyson's update of Carl Segan's famous Cosmos TV show. My impression is that since the show is going to be on Fox - and produced by the Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane - it will be a show more for the masses than perhaps it was before (being originally shown on PBS). deGrasse Tyson isn't always my cup of tea - he can be a bit abrasive and clown-like (at least in his StarTalk Radio show) - but he knows his science cold, and has an amazing voice one could listen to all day.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Hunter

The hunter crouches in his blind
'neith camouflage of every kind,
And conjures up a quacking noise
To lend allure to his decoys.
This grown-up man, with pluck and luck
Is hoping to outwit a duck.

- "The Hunter", by Ogden Nash

Friday, November 1, 2013

First Lines of "The Day Lasts More than a Hundred Years"

"The hungry vixen had to be patient as she searched for prey among the dried-out gullies and the bare ravines. Following along the intertwining, giddily wandering tracks of the small burrowing animals - now furiously digging out a marmot's lair, now waiting until a small jeroba which had been hiding in an underground storm channel jumped out into the open where he could be quickly dispatched - she moved quietly as a mouse, slowly and purposefully working her way towards the distant railway."

- Chingiz Aitmatov, from The Day Lasts More than a Hundred Years.

I"m 67 pages into this one and really liking it so far. It came to my attention in an article describing Aimatov as the Kyrgyz García Márquez. So far it's playing out as an interesting juxtaposition between standard Russian "village prose" and speculative hard science fiction. Fascinating stuff, with engaging prose despite being translated from Russian.