Cluster Map

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pollyanna post holidays

Passover has passed over us and Easter has gone back to the East and we can now get back to normal until the next wave  of holidays hits us.  Last week we had a Passover focus, so this week we shall give Easter some exposure via an El Greco painting that we think is both beautiful and appropriate.
'The Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane' by El Greco (1590)
We fondly remember visiting the Prado Museum in Madrid where there are Grecos like wall paper.

Pollyanna is going to try to relieve the depressive tone of Titan's oh so! realistic blog from last week, i.e. she will try to keep you from the bloggy,  bloggy gloom(with apologies to Burl Ives).

From the comments: A pretty song, for singing which the good people of Mona, Utah, had Burl Ives jailed. To this day it's the sorry little burg's only claim to fame.   This tickled Pollyanna's curiosity and a google turned up that we are at the 17th anniversary of this great singer's death.  Burl Icle Ivanhoe Ives died seventeen years ago this week, on April 14, 1995.  He was known as one of America's most beloved folk song singers. We remember his "Wayfaring Stranger" radio show and he was a star in the role of  "Big Daddy" both on stage and in film in the Tennessee Williams play, "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."

This week Mike Wallace, the CBS reporter who became one of America’s best-known broadcast journalists as an interrogator of the famous and infamous on “60 Minutes,” died on April 7.   He was 93.
Mike Wallace in his CBS office in 2006. More Photos »

One of the most famous names in TV journalism was a workaholic who found it difficult to stop when he retired as a regular correspondent in March 2006. Wallace was the first man hired by the late Don Hewitt when he was putting together the staff of 60 Minutes in 1968. The show turned into a hit and Wallace became a household name because of his tough interviewing style. Throughout his almost four-decade career on the show, Wallace worked on around 800 reports and won 20 Emmys, reports Reuters.    Here is a detailed obituary from the New York Times.  Indeed, we were faithful watchers of 60 Minutes whenever we lived in the USA.

We suspect that our younger readers, if such there be, have never heard of Diego Rivera  nor of his wife Frieda Kahlo.  They were social activists whom the young protesters of today would do well to emulate.
 "Do you wish to see with your own eye, the hidden springs of the social revolution? Look at the frescoes of Rivera. Do you wish to know what revolutionary art is like? Look at the frescoes of Rivera."
 - Leon Trotsky (the link to his biography might be needed by some)
The flower carrier
The New York Museum of Modern Art has mounted an exhibition of Rivera's work that will run into May.  Rivera in his lifetime shook up many, including his patrons.  A bitter controversy erupted at Rockefeller Center in New York when Rivera included a portrait of Lenin in his representation of the new society. Asked to remove it, Rivera refused and the mural was ultimately destroyed, one the greatest scandals of art history. When Rivera returned to Mexico in December 1933, he was one of the most highly publicized artists in United States history, hailed by the intellectual left and the art community and scorned by conservatives and the corporate patrons who had once sought him out. Stephen Eric Bronner has written in Reader Supported News an appreciation of Rivera and his generation of socially aware artists.  We quote his ending words, "Rivera sought to portray the history of oppression, the struggles against it, and the radical hopes that still exist among the lowly and the insulted. His artistry carries forward not only the dialectical legacy of Hegel and Marx but the most genuinely political legacy of modernism as well. "  Pollyanna says go, read and think.

All of us have experienced a solar eclipse at some time in our lives.  Pollyanna would like to share with you this beautiful shot of an eclipse in 1999.

 This is the only time that we can see (through mylar of course or via a telescope camera) the incredible corona of the sun.  This outer region of the sun is much hotter than the visible photosphere that we all see every day, but is much less dense.  Matter ejected from the corona during solar events can impact the magnetosphere of the Earth and cause disturbances.  This has spawned a field of science known as Space Weather devoted to predicting such events.

 Pollyanna is very glad for the Cassini Saturn orbiter project, with which we are personally involved for two delightful events: the reactivation of our Plasma Spectroscopy experiment after a long technical hiatus and the great news that The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum has bestowed its highest group honor, the Trophy for Current Achievement, on NASA's Cassini mission to Saturn. The annual award recognizes outstanding achievements in the fields of aerospace science and technology.
NASA's Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn was awarded the 2012 National Air and Space Museum Trophy for Current Achievement on March 21 at a black-tie dinner in Washington, D.C. Pictured (from left to right) - Wayne Clough, secretary of the Smithsonian; Robert Mitchell, Cassini program manager based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.; and Gen. Jack Dailey, director of the museum.

We are very proud.  The reactivation of CAPS was a stroke of technological genius by the engineers involved and it all shows what a marvelous project this is.
Cassini is continuing its Solstice Mission that will go on to 2017.  Let us show you some icy moons.
The Cassini spacecraft took this image of Enceladus on March 27, 2012, from approximately 144,281 miles (232,197 kilometers) away
 At 80K, ice is a brittle rock, not what you put in your drinks. Ice is big in this month's update from NASA on the Solar System and Cassini again shows up in a major role.  We also have some cheerful facts, not about the square of the hypotenuse, but about the fiery deaths of comets that decide to end it all by plunging into the Sun.  The black disk in the center is not the Sun, but an disk designed to occult the Sun and thus make the comet tracks visible.
Comet Lovejoy skimmed across the Sun's edge about 140,000 km above the surface late Dec. 15 and early Dec. 16, 2011, furiously brightening and vaporizing as it approached the Sun. This image shows the comet during that time as seen by the SOHO spacecraft.

 The Solar System is a great place and the physics we are dealing with is fascinating.  It even keeps our elderly brains working, which according to medical data that Yosefa sent us is good for us. 

We are told that LHC has reached a record new energy of 8 Tev and that maybe, maybe the finding of the Higgs boson is around the corner.  For the unitiated, the Higgs boson is a hypothetical elementary particle predicted by the Standard Model (SM) of particle physics. It belongs to a class of subatomic particles known as bosons, characterized by an integer value of their spin quantum number. The Higgs field is a quantum field with a non-zero value that fills all of space, and explains why fundamental particles such as quarks and electrons have mass. The Higgs boson is an excitation of the Higgs field above its ground state.  We wish the seekers luck.
One possible signature of a Higgs boson from a simulated proton-proton collision. It decays almost immediately into two jets of hadrons and two electrons, visible as lines.

This week Pollyanna takes us back to the 18th century to The Sufferings of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, translated from the German by Stanley Corngold , Norton, 151 pp., $23.95.  It is reviewed by the literature Nobel laureate (2003) J. M. Coetzee in the New York Review of  Books.  The review is accessible online to nonsubscribers and is interesting unto itself. 
The Sufferings of Young Werther (otherwise known as The Sorrows of Young Werther) appeared in 1774. Goethe sent a synopsis to a friend:
I present a young person gifted with deep, pure feeling and true penetration, who loses himself in rapturous dreams, buries himself in speculation, until at last, ruined by unhappy passions that supervene, in particular an unfulfilled love, puts a bullet in his head.
 Coetzee deals in detail with the obsession of Werther with Ossian which people took to represent the views of Goethe.  The Sturm und Drang movement that preceded Romanticism in German intellectual life at the end of the 18th century represented a rebellion against rigid social norms and French literary style.    Goethe has Werther read aloud from his translation of The Works of Ossian, renderings into rhythmical English prose by James Macpherson, a young Scottish schoolmaster, of fragments of what he claimed to be epic poetry sung by the bard Ossian in the third century CE, passed down orally from one generation to the next of Gaelic-speaking Scots.  This is a device by which  he is really taking a stand for the core aspiration of the movement: to build a new national literature that would overturn ossified norms of conduct and thought.  As Coetzee puts it, Goethe eventually outgrew his taste for Ossian. If the public took Werther’s enthusiasm for Ossian as an endorsement of Ossian by Goethe, he remarked, the public should think again: Werther admired Homer while he was sane, Ossian when he was going mad.
 Yossi Sarid writes in Haaretz about a 96-year-old Israeli Jewish woman from Kiryat Haim, a Holocaust survivor, who chose  to be buried in the Christian cemetery in Haifa.  Pollyanna was touched to the heart by the story of the life of this woman, her late husband and the beauty they embodied.  May they rest in peace and thank you Yossi Sarid for bringing this story to our attention.

We have just noticed that we, as people who grew up with typewriters, are still leaving two spaces after a period.  We are told emphatically that this is wrong and why it must be stopped.  We shall try.

 We wind up with a few interactions between Cynthia and her beloved Saba (note baseball fans):

This week with school out we took our grandson Ma'ayan to the Utopia Village where we saw some orchids and other exotic plants, an aviary with chickens etc.  This was something like the proposal of SMBC when XKCD had a guest cartoonist week:

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