There've been musicians like astronomer Herschel, and there've been chemists like Borodin – but all my life a favorite mathematician has been Tom Lehrer, whose songs began to come out when he was a graduate student in the '50s.
The asteroid “DA14”, which will hurtle past us sometime after lunch today, was discovered by Spanish observers last year.
Our highest satellites, used for GPS, are just over 22,000 miles up, and DA14 will pass underneath that level – coming about 17,000 miles from us. Fortunately, NASA assures us we are safe.
Now Earth and Moon have been hit many times, over the eons, by asteroids.The explosive 1908 Tunguska asteroid, a similar size to the one passing us on Friday (which for a while many suspected might have been a mini-black hole) damaged 800 square miles of Siberia.
Oliver Heaviside received not much more than a middle school education, leaving school at 16 -- yet became one of the most famous mathematical physicists of his time [ref.1.].
In a short biography by Appleyard [ref.2, p.218-9] there are a few drawings of horses by the 11 yr old Oliver, perhaps because his own father was an artist. as well as a wood engraver. The family lived in an impoverished part of Camden Town, London. Nevertheless, his mother's sister was the wife of Charles Wheatstone, famous for the Wheatstone Bridge circuit used in telegraphy.
Anyone who's jumped off a haystack or played on a trampoline, knows the pleasurable feeling of weightlessness, wherein there are, for a fleeting moment, no more sagging body parts.
Felix Baumgartner, a 43-year old Austrian military parachutist, intentionally jumped from a capsule 24 miles up, on Oct 14, thus certainly knowing weightlessness for a decent amount of time. And what a fascinating lot of physics the man who fell from space experienced!
Well, I guess this is information for TV's “Jeopardy”, but it was the physicist Dominique Francois Jean Arago, born 50 years after the birth of another statesman/scientist – Ben Franklin.[Ref.1].
Some may remember from high school a demonstration called “Arago's disk”, wherein a copper or aluminum disc is spun underneath an ordinary compass, and the compass needle begins to swing round also. This is just one of the many experiments Arago did.
You had a lot to say on the WAMC listener comment line this week on everything from Joe Donohue's interview with Jesse Ventura, Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney's '47 %' remarks, and several of our WAMC commentators. Segments of these comments ran Friday Sept. 21 on Midday Magazine and Northeast Report.
In the 19th century, Joseph Henry, first director of the Smithsonian, refused any salary increases, saying that public servants were there to serve, rather than to enrich themselves.
Now, there are two hospitals in Kingston NY – the Benedictine Hospital, a Catholic hospital (founded on its present site in 1906), and the non-sectarian Kingston hospital (founded in 1894), institutions in which, over the years, my family and I have had sundry procedures, such as appendix, hernias, and so on.
Settling into my seat on an Airbus, I wished that the 8-hour return from Europe could be more like 3 1/2 hours, as I'd heard the SSTs used to take.
Those SSTs -- Tupolevs and Concordes -- first flew in the late 60's. The Tupolev was first, in 1968, and then the Concordes in 1969. The latter went for 31 years without a crash – with the huge exception of the French Concorde that hit a piece of metal on the runway while taking off from Paris and crashed in flames, killing all on board.