Friday, June 24, 2011

Some Brief Notes and Links

* Marilyn Monroe's library. Quite a diverse selection.

* Lemaitre and Hubble's Law prior to Hubble.

* We may soon have tests for matter/antimatter symmetry, due to a new set of discoveries involving neutrinos.

* The U.S. Bicycle Route System is being expanded for the first time in about three decades. It's not a federal venture, but one sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and put forward mostly at the state and local level (with some federal consultation) to facilitate interstate bicycle travel, of which there is considerably more than one might imagine; but putting it under the authority of the Federal Highway Administration has occasionally come up in Congress. Currently there are 2 incomplete routes out of a total of an originally planned 95, so it's a project that has moved very slowly. The Europeans already have such a system, the EuroVelo, which is also incomplete, although, as it makes considerable more use of already existing infrastructure, is farther along. The interesting thing about EuroVelo is that large sections of many of its major routes follow old medieval pilgrimage routes.

* First World Problems (ht). This was much funnier than I expected:

* The young man who puts these up has a number of good ones mocking some of the pop songs that are out today. The one parodying Rebecca Black's "Friday" is pretty much exactly the way to capture the impression the original would make on any rational person (even if they don't know how to spell 'preceded').

But it has to be said in all fairness that Black's original pretty much captures the mentality of a typical modern eighth grader, too.

Which says something, I suppose, about eighth graders and rationality.

At the same time, the poor girl, only thirteen years old, has apparently received death threats over the song, which seems to say something rather worse about the state of society at large, however bad the song may be.

On the other hand, the song is so likably bad that Stephen Colbert covered it, which is something. And, on the same note, I've just spent a thoroughly absurd number of sentences talking about this thoroughly absurd song.


  1. Arsen Darnay11:17 AM

    The link to the story on Lemaitre's "precedence," as it were, is very interesting. Most histories of this subject at least mention Lemaitre, but this story is highly specific, and in these circles, where equations are near to God, significant. One of my persistent memories concerning Lemaitre (gathered in reading, of course) was that, in an interview with the Pope, he advised the pontif to treat the Big Bang with benign neglect, that discovery being of a scientific character and therefore subject to change...

  2. branemrys5:43 PM

    I think I've heard the story about Lemaitre and the Pope as well. John Farrell, the author of the blog that link went to, wrote a book on Lemaitre that's quite interesting, The Day Without Yesterday; it's worth a read if you happen to see it at the library at some point.

  3. John Farrell7:47 PM

    Thanks for reading the article at Forbes. I think it was less a case of Lemaitre telling Pius XII to treat the theory with benign neglect, than it was a matter of urging him not to read too much into the theory (in theological terms). At that time, the Big Bang did not have a lot of support, and Lemaitre was quite conscious about its vulnerability. That all changed of course within a decade, but at the time of his discussions with the pope (1950/51) his attitude was to be cautious....


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