David Nightingale

David Nightingale: Some Roman Writings

Oct 5, 2014

When Julius Caesar marauded his way across Europe and England, with his legions and wooden boats, shields and swords and arrows, he later wrote much of these adventures down, either on papyrus scrolls or wax, but although the mighty Roman Empire was formed from barbaric warfare and killing, there were many Romans constructing bridges and aqueducts, poems and books. Much of this is still in evidence today – for example, the aqueducts feeding Rome, and the writings of the likes of Ovid and Catullus and Pliny.

David Nightingale: Caesar's invasions Of England

Sep 11, 2014

When Julius Caesar attacked England he described the Brits as (quote) “...barbarians... with long hair … who shave their bodies except for head and lip … paint themselves with (dark blue) woad... and groups of 10 or 12 share their wives... offspring being held to be the children of him to whom the maiden was brought first...” [ref.1, pp.153-154].

David Nightingale: August 2014

Aug 31, 2014

It's still summer time, but there've been a few unwelcome yellow leaves in our road.

David Nightingale: Marcus Aurelius (121-180)

Aug 22, 2014

Little the life each lives,” wrote Marcus Aurelius, “little the corner of the earth he lives in, little even the longest fame hereafter, and even that dependent on a succession of poor mortals, who will very soon be dead, and have not learnt to know themselves much less the man who was dead long years ago...” [Ref.1, p.599.]

David Nightingale: J.Willard Gibbs (1839-1903)

Aug 10, 2014

Josiah Willard Gibbs was a contemporary of Mark Twain, and while Walt Whitman was enjoying the popularity of “Leaves of Grass”, and Dickens' final and unfinished novel “Edwin Drood” had just been published, J.Willard Gibbs was quietly working single-handedly at Yale on subjects that benefit mankind even today. This complex work, however, is not commonly known to a large segment of the reading public.

David Nightingale: Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Jul 27, 2014

What better, for summer reading, than the writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez?

David Nightingale: Fighting & Faiths

Jul 13, 2014

  As astronauts look down on a bright blue-and-white ball, seeing our unique yet fragile home, they don't see, of course, a color map of the world's religions. With night and day passing every 88 minutes, they observe tranquil areas, typhoons, flooded areas, possibly occasional volcanoes – beauty and trouble that nature deals us, and about which we can do nothing.

The colors on a religious color map of the globe shows all of the Americas plus Russia as Christian (pale yellow) and, in green, most of north Africa and the Middle East plus Indonesia as Islamic.

The Chief Engineer on the Catskill Aqueduct was Jonas Waldo Smith, born in 1861 in Lincoln, Massachusetts.

Now 2000 years ago, Sextus Julius Frontinus–one-time governor of the minor Roman province of Britain–had been appointed (in his retirement) Water Commissioner for the city of Rome. This was a position of consular rank that entailed responsibility for all Rome's water, conveyed into the capital via half a dozen major aqueducts, like Aqua Marcia, Aqua Claudia, and others.

David Nightingale: Metronidazole

Jun 15, 2014

The doctor wrote the prescription in that Sanskrit that pharmacists are fortunately familiar with, and I took it immediately to the drug store. The swelling on my nose had been pre-cancerous, and I didn't want to delay.

David Nightingale: Alexander the Great

May 4, 2014

It's possible to go by train from London all the way to India, in principle, and it's also possible to go to India overland, in principle – especially with a four-wheel drive. After Europe, the train goes from Istanbul right across Turkey (with a ferry across huge Lake Van), right across Iran, right across Pakistan, and on to India.

The four-wheel-drive jeep route, from Istanbul to India, sometimes referred to as the “Hippie Trail," follows some of the “Silk Road” trade routes between China and Europe.

David Nightingale: Small Towns

Apr 24, 2014

When considering a place to live, many people go for small towns, where there is frequently friendliness, trust, character and beauty. Additional qualities such as farmland, rivers, possibly mountains are all part of the mix, as are coffee shops, a book store, a library, maybe even a college campus. Fresh air is a plus – and maybe some trails for walking or biking.

David Nightingale: A Coup In Turkey In 1963

Mar 29, 2014

There had been a roar, waking me up, and as I rubbed my eyes I realized there'd been a whole background of roars, which hadn't exactly been dreams.

David Nightingale: Fair Elections, Revisited

Mar 13, 2014

Our voting has slowly developed from 'white males' with property qualifications, to the inclusion of women (by the 19th Amendment of 1920). Now, in 2014, there are still privileged entities (read 'deep pocket corporations') attempting to sway our votes, and looking back, it's astonishing that so many countries in the world excluded so many groups.

David Nightingale: Michael Faraday (1791-1867)

Feb 23, 2014

Among many people who have benefited humanity so permanently was the book binder's apprentice, Michael Faraday.

His mother was a farmer's daughter, and his father was a blacksmith.

“My education consisted of little more...” he wrote “....than the rudiments of reading, writing and arithmetic at a common day school … and my hours out of school were passed at home and in the streets”[ref.1 p.77]. This modest, self-educated and hard-working man would later turn down a knighthood, as well as two offers to be President of the Royal Society.

At five,  I take the old farm path, past the horses.

The sky is purple, with long stretches and swaths of other colors across the silent evening, one horizon to another. Some previous snow is still clinging to the north sides of barren trees, as well as lying on a few upper branches. Hard to believe there'll be greenery again, one day.

David Nightingale: James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879)

Feb 2, 2014
James Clerk Maxwell
By Fergus of Greenock via Wikimedia Commons

Every moment of every day, worldwide, we all  realize one of the profound predictions of James Clerk Maxwell – which was that something called radio waves, traveling at the same speed as that of light, must exist.

There've been other profound predictions in science of course – for example, astronomer Le Verrier's prediction about where to find the planet Neptune.

But this little essay is about a man who was initially called 'Dafty' at school – born in Scotland in 1831, and who lived for only 48 years.

David Nightingale: Christmas in Turkey, 1961

Jan 2, 2014

Christmas in the Middle East, 1961. The Moslem headmaster had insisted we take the Christian holiday, although we hadn't asked for it.

David Nightingale: On Henry Cavendish (1731-1810)

Nov 15, 2013

Some refer to Cavendish as 'the man who weighed the earth', but it would be more accurate to describe him as a man who spent his life as a careful investigator in chemistry, heat and electricity.

David Nightingale: October/November

Nov 3, 2013

October transitions into November, and not all the leaves down yet. Some still hang, brown and a tinge of orange, waiting for real heavy gusts to decide for them, once and for all, and sweep them to their colleagues, to join the beige sacking that now covers our part of the earth.                  

David Nightingale: On Casinos

Oct 13, 2013

An essay aired in 2005, concerning casinos in the Catskills, mentioned some of the pros and cons of gambling; now, in 2013, here we go again. It appears that, increasingly, the governments of many states are believing in gambling as a quick fix to shortage of funds.

David Nightingale: Considering Oliver Sacks

Oct 6, 2013

In his book “The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat” Oliver Sacks decribes how a patient with agnosia – or one who couldn't recognize faces – (quote) “reached out his hand … and took hold of his wife's head.. [and] tried to lift it off, to put [the hat] on...”

I mention Dr Sacks, a Professor of Clinical Neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, as one more in the genre of scientist/artists, like Alexander Borodin or Richard Feynman.

David Nightingale: On Language

Sep 2, 2013

Disclaimer: the following comments are about the English language, despite the fact that my training is only in the sciences. But to my mind, whatever language we use, we should strive to communicate. accurately.

10 years ago, the late Steve Fossett went round the world in such a contraption, and 20 years ago Richard Branson and Per Lindstrom sat in a basket all the way from Japan to Canada, rising right up into the 250 mph jet stream.

David Nightingale: Harbo (1864-1909) & Samuelsen (1870-1946)

Aug 11, 2013

Harbo & Samuelsen – law firm? Insurance Company?

David Nightingale: Rails-With-Trails

Jul 21, 2013

The last train into the Catskills left Kingston in September 1976, returning a few days later with essentially every freight car that had been on that Ulster & Delaware line.

David Nightingale: Herschel (1738 - 1822)

Jul 4, 2013

Choose a career, and stay with it for life?

Perhaps that's what many people used to do and maybe still do  --  but consider this man:

David Nightingale: L'Hopital's Rule (l'Hopital, 1661-1704)

May 27, 2013

There's been talk over the years about whether or not a famous rule, called l'Hopital's Rule, after the French nobleman Guillaume-Francois-Antoine Marquis de l'Hopital, Comte d'Entremont, Seigneur d'Ouques-La-Chaise – which is not even his full name – possibly 'bought' the rule from the famous mathematician Johann Bernoulli, who was born in 1667.

David Nightingale: Homestead

May 26, 2013

Three young deer, the same three that had touched their noses to my front windows in the snowy months, while I was at the computer barely 8 feet away, and who later ate the emerging hyacinths of March/April, today chewing at low-branched green leaves …

David Nightingale: 50 Shades of Grey

May 2, 2013

The 500 pp book “50 Shades of Grey”, by E.L.James – a pseudonym for the 50 yr old writer Erika Mitchell[ref.2] (who lives in London with her husband and two sons) -- has been variously slanged by critics. Despite these criticisms the book and its 2 sequels have been selling (last year) like wildfire, with the majority of the readers being women. So somehow, worldwide, there is a deep need.

They've released [ref.1] the final report for the disappearance of Flight 447, a 200 ton Airbus which disappeared in June 2009 on its way from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. About 4 hours into the flight, somewhere over the Atlantic, in night-time stormy weather, contact with the airliner was completely lost.