of books and black holes …and chicken.

Posted on Wednesday 1 March 2006

sense :: hearing // Nighthawks – Hornflakes Diner

I have to admit that this article about what it might look like to travel through a black hole definitely caught my interest. Even in the hallowed halls of higher education, all through my academic career studying astronomy and physics, asking “what might approaching and passing into a black hole look like” was always considered a pedestrian question; one of those kinds of questions that real scientists don’t ask because they’re not interested in such silly things. Yeah, you can tell my undergraduate career in physics and astronomy were pockmarked with moments where I tried to draw real-world and applicable analogies to scientific theory, and those moments were equally spattered with times when I was met with laughter from my classmates, who considered themselves above such analytic analogies (theory for theory’s sake, after all!) or professors who simply didn’t understand what academic value such a comparison might draw.

That being said, I’m not trying to say my undergrad experience was a wash, it was just much more complicated and rife with different kinds of people than I readily saw at the time. When I think back to the professors I had, and whether they cared or didn’t care, were apathetic or actively disapproving of me, I can remember much more after having left than when I was actually there and wrestling with the throes of trying to earn two degrees in the hard sciences at the same time. But hell, I did it, didn’t I? That’s what makes articles like this so incredibly interesting to me, because I can see it from both sides of the fence; I want to email this article to so many of my old professors that it’s not funny-to show them that there IS value in thinking like someone outside of the “institution,” and it’s not just for generating interest in science, it’s for legitimizing your research. Show the people something, show them that we understand these elements of our vast universe, don’t just publish a paper, rest on your laurels, teach a class, and start in on the next publication-scientific journals just aren’t enough to the folks walking in the shadow of the ivory tower.

Anyway. I finally finished Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince last night before going to bed. Definitely a bad idea, because I was kind of wired by the end of the book; the last couple of chapters sped by like wildfire, and now I’m relegated to the realm of all other Harry Potter fans, eagerly licking their chops before J.K. Rowling releases her next book. Man, that sucks. Damn good book, though. Now I need to find something else to read. I’m thinking it might be about time to get back into nonfiction-I told myself I’d read some fiction and then switch off. Maybe I’ll pick up my copy of War Reporting for Cowards by Chris Ayers that I snagged at Tower on a whim one day.

In lighter news, the fear of bird flu is very real and prevalent, but this sign is just hilarious. The translation of the text, if you don’t catch it on the site, is roughly “To minimise the chance of contracting bird flu, please cook the absolute crap out of all poultry!” Sounds about right to me.


2 Comments for 'of books and black holes …and chicken.'

  1.  
    pastilla
    March 1, 2006 | 11:46 pm
     

    So interesting. Wonder what Kirk Johnson’s path through school was like, to get to a point where he could write interesting articles like that?

    Immanuel Velikovsky was a family friend, quite an interesting and eccentric fellow, but attacked by the science community with exactly the kind of limited thinking you described . . . esp. over Worlds in Collision.

    Bird photo: v. funny

  2.  
    March 9, 2006 | 11:22 am
     

    I have to admit that it’s disheartening, and I don’t particularly pleasantly remember my college career because of it-there’s so much competition in the scientific community these days for everything but discovery that it’s incredibly disheartening-I was consistently reminded when I was in school that the reason we were learning about all of these things had nothing to do with the pursiut of knowledge and the thrill of the unknown-of possibly using our methods to see through the veil of the seen and not-seen, but actually the pursiut of tenure and the thrill of publication. It was part of what jaded me enough to leave the scientific community behind.

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