Cluster Map

Friday, February 18, 2011

Here comes Pollyanna again

It is nice to share some of the joy of the Egyptian people with Pollyanna.  Indeed we do not know for sure where the revolution will go but we can only hope that the same leaders who brought it about will not be fooled by any fake reforms that the military will try to sell them.

A soldier celebrating with the masses in Cairo 
The pundits who were so surprised are now guessing and trying to predict.  Most of it is wild speculation but there is an article by Roger Cohen  that casts some light on what is behind this uprising that is spreading like a contagion throughout the Muslim world.  It may be that for the moment the despots in Iran and the Gulf Emirates will succeed in putting down the people, but the genie will not go back into the bottle.

Thanks to Yosefa for passing this very true cartoon on to me.

I try to follow the advice of   Ben Sira the sage who told us:
" Let us now sing the praises of famous men, our ancestors in their generations. 2 The Lord apportioned to them great glory, his majesty from the beginning. 3 There were those who ruled in their kingdoms, and made a name for themselves by their valor; those who gave counsel because they were intelligent; those who spoke in prophetic oracles; 4 those who led the people by their counsels and by their knowledge of the people's lore; they were wise in their words of instruction; 5 those who composed musical tunes, or put verses in writing"

Last week in the Titan  blog I mentioned the birthdays of Copernicus and Galileo, two icons of science and intellectual freedom who were born in February.   In the last issue of this blog I discussed Ludwig Boltzmann whose great equation finally was given a complete solution.  This week I wish to remind you of two men who were born on the same day February 12, 1809   Abraham Lincoln
and  Charles Darwin

I always call them the two great liberators, Lincoln  freed people from physical slavery and Darwin  freed us from intellectual servitude to the stultifying dogmas of religion.  Of course, Copernicus and Galileo did their share of tending that vineyard as well.  Let us salute all those who labor in the cause of the human rights of our intellects and minds.

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (1910-1995)

In the spirit of the above, I would like to call your attention to one of the greatest astrophysicists of all time, the beloved and admired  Chandra. whose centennial was marked last year.  It is most appropriate that a spacecraft observatory surveying the universe in X-rays has been named for him.  In addition to being a superb scientist and leader in the field, he had a deep understanding of the beauty of the world of the humanities.

Let me boast a bit about my colleague from our department at Tel Aviv University Akiva Bar-Nun whose achievements in laboratory simulations of comets have brought him worldwide recognition and even some fame on the local scene.  Here's to you Akiva!! 

A spacecraft named after another great scientist Johannes Kepler  has turned up a gaggle of extrasolar planetary systems.  It should keep astronomers busy and off the streets for quite a while.
An artist's conception, Tom Pyle, NASA

Here is some good news, the suspension of the Japanese whale hunt caused by the great people of Sea Shepherd  who pursued  and harassed the whaling fleet in the Antarctic.

In this Feb. 9 photo released by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, activists aboard the high-speed trimaran Gojira prepare to fire a slingshot toward the Japanese whaling factory ship Nisshin Maru on Feb. 9 in Southern Ocean, Antarctica.

HAPPINESS is to be found in a particular place in our brain, the amygdala which in the past was known to be associated with fear.  It appears according to new research that it appreciates good things as well. 

This week's book review is of a biography of J.D. Salinger by Kenneth Slawenski reviewed by Jay McInerney in the New York Times Review of Books.   I hope you find it interesting.  I did.

Those of you who deal in psychoceramics (the science of cracked pots) might want to take a look at the revelations of the final prophet of God    We are told that paper will tolerate anything.  Indeed it will, and so will silicon.

This week in Below the Beltway Gene discusses the issue of weeping by women with his feminist interlocutor Gina.  

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