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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Reading something other than chess theory for a change...

Hey... check this out... I've finally succeeded in crossing out a line item on my bucket list of things to do or see before I someday croak and depart this dear planet. Never mind whether or not this line item didn't happen to be on my top ten list of things to do before I were to croak or whether it was even among my top one-hundred.

The relevant thing about it is that I finally finished something that I previously started after at least two prior failed attempts made in earnest. I'll also add that this doesn't have a damned thing to do with what goes on in the bedroom for those of you with wandering minds... so don't even bother going there.

I finally finished reading a book that I've had for some time now. Reading that book cover to cover was a welcomed change of pace and I'll also be the first to tell you that it certainly was quite gratifying and somewhat enlightening for that matter.

Although I may be on a boat, there is only so much chess theory that I want to endlessly read so it was nice to set aside my various volumes of Garry Kasparov's, "My Great Predecessors" and read something else for a change.

The line item in question that finally got crossed off my bucket list was to completely read "Stephen Hawking's Universe, the Cosmos Explained" by David Filkin... an Authorized Companion to the Public Television Series...

I can well remember purchasing this book some eight or nine years ago at a greatly discounted price at a Barnes & Noble bookstore somewhere in Dallas. I can also recall randomly flipping TV channels late at night with the remote and stopping down on the PBS Channel when it happened to feature the book's accompanying TV series.

Say what you will of the PBS channel, I happen to find it compelling viewing no matter what the morons on FOX Fabrication News Network have to say about it. Let me ask you this... would you prefer to listen to Glenn Beck and Shawn Hannity utter stupidities and bullsh*t all day long or would you prefer to get enlightened while watching PBS?

Dude... In any event... you need to have your geeky science classmate explain the Cliff Notes version of the book if for no other reason than that you may perhaps find yourself gazing up a stars alongside a date late one night.

You never know... you just might impress the hell out of her with random tidbits of information of how the universe evolved and perhaps later find yourself stealing home plate after safely rounding all the other bases. Then yet again... maybe not.

But what the heck... let me help you out myself with a few tidbits of information free of charge.

Eratosthenes was a Greek mathematician who had the insight to plant two sticks perpendicular into the ground and measure the length of the shadow of one stick while the other stick showed no shadow at all when the sun was at high noon in some distant city.

As a result of this measurement, this old guy was able to estimate the diameter of the earth... Dude... it's called geometry and you want to put away your ipod and pay attention next time you find yourself seated in your geometry class not that I ever paid attention back in my high school days. Incidentally, it is reported that geometry happened to be Alberto Einstein's favorite class while a student...

Eratosthenes was to prove that the earth was not flat way before Columbus ever made such a claim. By the way... Former President Dubya Bush is reportedly still claiming that Saddam Hussein was a threat to world peace and that the world is a better place without him and that the earth is still flat.... Go figure.

Ptolemy was some dude from the second century that drew up complicated epicycles of the sun, moon, and other planets with Planet Earth at the center of it all. Kind of like what Sarah Palin would want you to believe about the hinterlands of Alaska but I advise you not to waste your time paying any attention to her stupidities.

Nicholas Copernicus was a Polish priest who croaked in 1543... he anonymously proposed that the sun and not the earth was the center of the universe so as to not offend the church and of all its bullsh*t about the biblical interpretation of the earth being at the center of the universe.

Johannes Kepler was a German astronomer who proposed that planets had elliptical orbits around the sun and not perfect circular orbits as pontificated by the church. Imagine that... somebody with a brain defying the teachings of the church back in the day. He based his conclusions on the precise measurements methodically taken by some Danish dude with a giant sextant.

Tycho Brahe was that Danish dude with a sextant who methodically took precise measurements of the visible planets and heavens... never mind that he failed to realize what those measurements could possibly tell him.

Galileo was an Italian mathematician who used a telescope to record his sightings of moons orbiting Jupiter thus trashing Ptolemy's model of the universe once and for all which claimed that all heavenly bodies orbited around the earth.

Issac Newton was a mathematician who wrote Principia Mathematica explaining the basic laws of motion and providing a mathematical description of the universe known up to that time.

In any event the book proceeds to explain the contributions of many others and of how one discovery would lead to another. Of particular note was how a simple light prism ultimately allowed scientists to determine what the sun and distant stars were made of by examining what are known as Fraunhofer lines.

The book goes on to explain The Big Bang, black holes, white dwarfs, time warps, subatomic particles and much more in simple everyday language. There is but one formula in the entire book... Energy is the same thing as Mass when it is accelerated to an exponentially super fast speed.

What is not stated in this book is that so-called Creation-Science is little more than an oxymoron based upon contemporary mythology... and that any sensible person will readily conclude that religion is little more than contemporary mythology destined to someday be set alongside ancient Greek and Roman mythology.

Dude... this is a pretty cool book. You may perhaps want to include it in your bucket list of things to do and see before you ever croak.

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