I have a very long to-do list today (including a delayed post for Double X Science, which I mention publicly to force myself to finish it), so I don’t know if I’ll have a regular post here or not. However, I do have some links for you, and a cat picture, ’cause that’s what the Internet is all about.
- Today is the Northern Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s also the Southern Summer Solstice, and we are close to perihelion, the closest Earth gets to the Sun during its elliptical orbit. However, our orbit is nearly circular, so the difference between perihelion and aphelion (the farthest from the Sun, occurring during the northern summer) is small. Not so for many exoplanets, as Caleb Scharf explains.
- I wrote about the discovery of two Earth-sized exoplanets yesterday; Emily Lakdawalla lays out exactly what scientists know, what they think are good guesses, and what is pure speculation about the Kepler-20 system.
- Deborah Blum (author of The Poisoner’s Handbook) and Jennifer Ouellette (AKA Jen Luc Piquant) have written about the science hiding in my favorite series of detective novels, the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries by Dorothy L. Sayers. Deborah’s post is on Strong Poison and Jennifer’s is on The Nine Tailors. My cat Harriet is named for Harriet Vane, Lord Peter’s love interest and occasional detecting partner in the series.
- General relativity may be a complicated theory mathematically, but it explains a beautiful phenomenon known as gravitational lensing, shown in today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day. (Here’s something I wrote and recorded on the subject earlier this year.)
One response to “It’s Dangerous to Go Alone! Take This!”
Thanks for the pointer to the two Sayers pieces. As a fan, you presumably have read the short story “Absolutely Elsewhere”, with Parker’s line, “For heaven’s sake, don’t go all Eddington.” A nice bit of social history, that: Would it be credible today if a smart but unimaginative police detective were to respond to some cleverness with “Don’t go all Hawking”? Well, maybe.
There is a Web page that tries to explain the obscurities in what’s probably the most science-laden of the Sayers books (though missing Lord Peter and his friends), The Documents in the Case, here.
It is not a review, but an attempt at annotation, which runs in parallel to the book except for an appendix to explaining all the scientific and dubiously-scientifc jargon that comes up in the dinner party that finally breaks the case.
This is another poisoning case, naturally, and it’s clear what the poison was, but how—? The dinner conversation provides the key; and it was fun to try to explain the 1920s science and describe how the points stand up to the science of 90 years later. Comments on the science and Hist of Sci are welcome.
PS: There’s a Yahoo mail list called LordPeter. Come and join the fun, it you have time.)