My Photo


  • Jen-Luc Piquant sez: "They like us! They really like us!"

    "Explains physics to the layperson and specialist alike with abundant historical and cultural references."
    -- Exploratorium ("10 Cool Sites")

    "... polished and humorous..."
    -- Physics World

    "Takes 1 part pop culture, 1 part science, and mixes vigorously with a shakerful of passion."
    -- Typepad (Featured Blog)

    "In this elegantly written blog, stories about science and technology come to life as effortlessly as everyday chatter about politics, celebrities, and vacations."
    -- Fast Company ("The Top 10 Websites You've Never Heard Of")
Blog powered by Typepad
Bookmark and Share

« mashup: physics, architecture, fiction | Main | otherwise engaged »



Words are words, music is music, pictures are pictures, maths is maths, ...
All things which attract people in different ways
All things which interest people in different ways

Praise & platitudes is said to be like
"Music to the ears"
Some photography and music us said to be
"Candy for the Mind"
and some images are simply "eye candy"

Newspapers & magazines are full of words (and even images) no one has time to read thoroughly
The Internet & blogosphere has enabled anyone and everyone to be a writer, journalist, publisher, editor.
I have nine hundred & ninety nine channels of tv pumping out stuff all day I would need 999 lives to watch (including umpteen repeats, and the many alternative versions of the same 'news' or scoops)

There is a lot out there - more than any one mind can absorb. I remember when anyone could list the major makes and models of cars, you try to do that now. I remember when anyone could list the most famous bands and album tracks, you try and do that now. I remember when anyone could list the most famous soccer stars. you try to do that now. There was a time one could list the most famous hollywood stars and films, you try now - they are almost as many as the 'mamed' Stars in the skies.

Nowdays you can do a PhD
not just in every branch of science -
but in every sub-group speciality within, whether it be in surgery, medicine, pharmacy, chemistry, bio-chemistry, physics, cosmology or asyt-physics

One could be a PhD in Star Trek Movies
One could be a PhD in Star Gate
One could even be a PhD in Lost

Have we reached the pinnacle of the Tower of Babel again, more tv channels than people (audience), more PhD courses than students? more things to say by more people, less people interested in what is being said

let me be the first of many pedants to point out that since Pluto was discovered in 1930 it won't be included in your 1926 recording of the Planet Suite.

The pluto part of the suite was written by british composer Colin Matthews many years after Holst's death.

". . . and it's hard not to be amazed by what's out there in all that dark, whether that dark is dark matter, dark energy, or just the absence of light in familiar wavelengths."

But it IS hard to be amazed by stuff we can't see...dark energy, dark matter, parallel universes and string's the pretty, perceive-able pictures, after all, that have hoisted Hubble so high into public regard.

Astronomy made me the geek I am (that's a good thing :) )
Pictures like hubbles certainly catch a seven year olds interest... and science has a habit of interconnecting with itself, leading to an intrest in nuclear physics in stars, optics in telescopes etc.

Nice post, Lee. Regarding light pollution, at least in cities like New York City, the avian groups are out there at night counting dead birds that get disoriented from the skyscrapers' office lights. They are constantly trying to get the buildings to turn off their upper lights, which only works in favor for night-sky enthusiasts as well.

I once picked up the Urban Almanac, which has a bunch of astronomy-related information for city dwellers (though obviously more focus on the moon, which *can* be seen). It's pretty much an "appreciate nature for the cement-bound" calendar book:

It's really a shame that throughout history, mankind has been able to go outside and look up and see the stars. Today, few have that opportunity. Only a tiny percentage of people in the industrialized world have ever seen a dark sky.

TBB, is this the book you meant? I'd seen this before, being a faithful Utne reader (even back when it was the Utne Reader!) I see they're not making a 2007 edition, which is kind of sad. One of the things I'd meant to add to this post before the hour got so late was an anecdote about a guy with a telescope on Second Avenue in the East Village that I ran into one night, selling peeks at the rings of Saturn for a buck. So you can see a few things even in the light pollution here. It was well worth the money. This guy was from outside the city somewhere, but there's another amateur astronomer here with a blog called Top of the Lawn that's worth a look.

Huw, thanks for the "pedantic" correction. ;^) As you can see, my knowledge of both classical music and astronomy is fairly superficial, and you've added to my personal trove of knowledge. I'm wondering now if Holst isn't due for another rewrite, or at least a return to the original. Oh the dilemma! What's a conductor to do? At least it's no longer a struggle between scientific accuracy and musical purity.

Lucy's Granddaughter, that's the beauty of the Hubble pictures: that they can lead to curiosity about the things we can't see, as Mick said.

Yes, Lee, sorry, I was skrinking the Amazon link and messed up. (Your link isn't working either, btw.)I meant: Too bad they aren't doing a 2007 issue.

The 2nd Ave guy sounds like a good entrepreneur - great idea!

In 1997, I setup a 60 mm spotting scope on a tripod, and showed passers by comet Hale-Bopp. I even took pictures. The light pollution in downtown Philadelphia was high, but Hale-Bopp was very, very bright.

This year, at Halloween, I set up the same scope on my West facing front porch, and offered kids a "free look at Jupiter". One older girl, really a chaparone, was the only enthusiastic viewer. But, next year, I'm going to bring out the 10 inch cannon. Jupiter will once again be setting in the West.

I thought, from the title, you might metion just what the dark adapted eye can see. My favorite quote, from the Dancing Wu Li Masters, and from the Tao of Physics is this:

The dark adapted eye can detect a single photon.

Since photons are quantum particles, they are a way to experience quantum events directly. It isn't that easy. There are technical problems. Half an hour of dark adapting. The statistical nature of emitting just one photon, etc. So maybe most of us won't get to see a single photon after all. I'm amazed it can be done at all.

I hear conflicting things about the quantum efficiency of human eyes. Anywhere from 5% to 65%. One thing is true. The dynamic range of brightness that a human eye achieves routinely beats out even very expensive film or digital photography. For example, during a solar eclipse (where the Moon blocks the Sun), the human can see the disk of the Moon illuminated by reflected light from the Earth, and it can see the solar corona. But for photography, you have to take two pictures and splice them together.

Sie haben eine schöne Seite!

Sie haben eine schöne Seite!

The comments to this entry are closed.

Twitter Updates

    follow me on Twitter

    Physics Cocktails

    • Heavy G
      The perfect pick-me-up when gravity gets you down.
      2 oz Tequila
      2 oz Triple sec
      2 oz Rose's sweetened lime juice
      7-Up or Sprite
      Mix tequila, triple sec and lime juice in a shaker and pour into a margarita glass. (Salted rim and ice are optional.) Top off with 7-Up/Sprite and let the weight of the world lift off your shoulders.
    • Listening to the Drums of Feynman
      The perfect nightcap after a long day struggling with QED equations.
      1 oz dark rum
      1/2 oz light rum
      1 oz Tia Maria
      2 oz light cream
      Crushed ice
      1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
      In a shaker half-filled with ice, combine the dark and light rum, Tia Maria, and cream. Shake well. Strain into an old fashioned glass almost filled with crushed ice. Dust with the nutmeg, and serve. Bongos optional.
    • Combustible Edison
      Electrify your friends with amazing pyrotechnics!
      2 oz brandy
      1 oz Campari
      1 oz fresh lemon juice
      Combine Campari and lemon juice in shaker filled with cracked ice. Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Heat brandy in chafing dish, then ignite and pour into glass. Cocktail Go BOOM! Plus, Fire = Pretty!
    • Hiroshima Bomber
      Dr. Strangelove's drink of choice.
      3/4 Triple sec
      1/4 oz Bailey's Irish Cream
      2-3 drops Grenadine
      Fill shot glass 3/4 with Triple Sec. Layer Bailey's on top. Drop Grenadine in center of shot; it should billow up like a mushroom cloud. Remember to "duck and cover."
    • Mad Scientist
      Any mad scientist will tell you that flames make drinking more fun. What good is science if no one gets hurt?
      1 oz Midori melon liqueur
      1-1/2 oz sour mix
      1 splash soda water
      151 proof rum
      Mix melon liqueur, sour mix and soda water with ice in shaker. Shake and strain into martini glass. Top with rum and ignite. Try to take over the world.
    • Laser Beam
      Warning: may result in amplified stimulated emission.
      1 oz Southern Comfort
      1/2 oz Amaretto
      1/2 oz sloe gin
      1/2 oz vodka
      1/2 oz Triple sec
      7 oz orange juice
      Combine all liquor in a full glass of ice. Shake well. Garnish with orange and cherry. Serve to attractive target of choice.
    • Quantum Theory
      Guaranteed to collapse your wave function:
      3/4 oz Rum
      1/2 oz Strega
      1/4 oz Grand Marnier
      2 oz Pineapple juice
      Fill with Sweet and sour
      Pour rum, strega and Grand Marnier into a collins glass. Add pineapple and fill with sweet and sour. Sip until all the day's super-positioned states disappear.
    • The Black Hole
      So called because after one of these, you have already passed the event horizon of inebriation.
      1 oz. Kahlua
      1 oz. vodka
      .5 oz. Cointreau or Triple Sec
      .5 oz. dark rum
      .5 oz. Amaretto
      Pour into an old-fashioned glass over (scant) ice. Stir gently. Watch time slow.