Cluster Map

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Pollyanna in the springtime

Hi Folks,
has managed to get through the week of Memorial Day and Independence Day without blowing a gasket which is something. We went to the ceremony of the alternative beacons in Emil Gruenzweig Square in Jerusalem. .(For the younger readers, Emil Gruenzweig was a student, immigrant from Brazil, who was killed when  a fascist madman , who has since been released, threw a grenade into a group of people demonstrating against the first Lebanon war on 10 February 1983). The speeches that we heard at the event  on Monday night were inspiring, especially that of   Ilana Hammerman, who called for an Israeli spring of civil disobedience.  She is famous for bringing young Palestinian girls into Israel for a day of fun.  We shall see how long she walks among us before she is "disappeared" by the police of darkness.

Of course Pollyanna is anything but glad about the long captivity of Gilead Shalit who was captured by the Hamas in 2005 and has not yet been released, mainly because our government and army have not dealt in good faith with the issue of exchanging him. Make no mistake, we absolve the Hamas of nothing, but we are upset about the way the matter has been handled. Silly prayers in synagogue and public demonstrations are not the answer. We join Gideon Levy  in praise for the action of Shalit's brother and his partner who disrupted the national Independence Day ceremony.  Unfortunately, not by accident, the TV cameras avoided showing the disruption to the public.  There are regimes like that around the world. Kim and Natanyahu...

Pollyanna loves flowers including the jasmine.
This poor lovely flower has incurred the wrath of the government in China and is being  banned from the marketplace. One might think that this will help them turn back the tide of history and prevent a jasmine revolution in their country. Of course, both Pollyanna and Hilary Clinton know better  In a long interview with the Atlantic Clinton called China's human rights record "deplorable," adding, "They're worried, and they are trying to stop history, which is a fool's errand. They cannot do it. But they're going to hold it off as long as possible."
OK, we will leave the rest of the politics to our brother Titan who will come on next week and get on to the stuff that makes Pollyanna really glad. Let us start with something that Judy pointed out for us(Thanks Judy), a confirmation of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. NASA released results Wednesday from a revolutionary satellite that probed Einstein's general theory of relativity, confirming that the Earth's gravity and rotation warp space and time as predicted. For more details read more ...

Bad Astronomy, right next door, has a cool story of a picture from space. It was fun to read and fun to see how Phil enjoyed himself. He also went to Canada and discovered that people can live by the metric system, but that is a different issue.
I love XKCD cartoons and so does Pollyanna. Here we give a boost to Myth Busters (I love them too) and a possibly cheap shot at string theorists. Since I, as a plasma space physicist, spent 30 years being looked down upon by string theorists, maybe some Schadenfreude is in place. (click on cartoon to enlarge)

As we all know, Pollyanna is a very refined young lady and does not  indulge in strong language. Yet it now appears that the  use of fierce expletives has a health value
and serves to alleviate the effect of pain causing situations. It apparently is connected to the release of adrenalin into the blood stream. Since I have a regrettable tendency to express myself pungently when provoked, at least I can feel that it has some good attached to it. It is somewhat like the medicinal value of high cacao chocolate.
The details of the creation of supernovae, the great stellar explosions that populate the universe with heavy atoms etc. have long puzzled astronomers. Pollyanna is glad that a spacecraft named for Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (1910-1995)(vid. her blog from February 18) has discovered information by means of which astronomers may now know the cause of an historic supernova explosion that is an important type of object for investigating dark energy in the universe. The discovery, made using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, also provides strong evidence that a star can survive the explosive impact generated when a companion star goes supernova. Read more....
Chandra image of Tycho, note blue plumes

BOOK REVIEW The blog is getting a bit long, so let us get on to the  book review. I refer you to the New York Times Review of Books for a glimpse given to us by the writer Stephen Greenblatt, of Arthur Phillips’s new
novel, “The Tragedy of Arthur,”  It deals with forgery of the works of Shakespeare in the late 18th century and contains a play written by Phillips in which he deals with the tragedy of fraud. I will not spoil it for you by saying more, but recommend you read the review and, if you can find it, the book.  The review has a podcast of an interview of the author by Stephen Greenblatt.

Finally, we, Pollyanna and I, cannot send you on your way without a dose of  Andy Borowitz and Gene Weingarten, in the latter case an old post, but relevant to dog lovers and others.

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