Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Stars die

The Cat's Eye Nebula: Dying Star Creates Fantasy-like Sculpture of Gas and Dust
© NASA, ESA, HEIC, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

The moon shook and curled up like gentle fire
The ocean glazed and melted wire
Voices buzzed in spiral eyes
Stars dived in blinding skies

Stars die. Blinding skies.

Tree cracked and mountain cried
Bridges broke, window sighed
Cells grew up and rivers burst
Sound obscured and sense reversed

Idle mind and severed soul
Silent nerves and begging bowl
Shallow haze to blast a way
Hyper sleep to end the day

Steven Wilson - Stars die (1995)

Porcupine Tree - Stars die

Friday, April 17, 2015

Living With a Star - a vast range of scales

Life on Earth would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, if our planet were not positioned very precisely in the habitable zone in our solar system, colloquially known as the “Goldilocks zone”. However, even positioned at this optimum distance from the Sun, the behaviour of our star has profound consequences for our lives. ‘Living with a Star’ is a challenge for a civilisation that has deployed technologies such as satellites and power grid systems that are vulnerable to particle energy emitted by our Sun. In recent decades, solar-terrestrial physics, the study of the interaction of the Sun with Earth, has been addressing the need to provide Space Weather forecasting to protect such technologies. This endeavour occupies a vast range of scales. The solar system is the largest complex system that mankind can study with in-situ observation. It involves dimensions ranging from the astronomical unit (1 AU = 150,000,000 km, the distance from the Earth to the Sun) to the radius of charged particle motions spiralling around magnetic fields which can be only a few centimetres. On the temporal scale, activity on the Sun varies on the “sunspot cycle” of 11 and 22 years whilst phenomena such as explosive energy events on the Sun and in near-Earth space require study on time scales of seconds.

The complete text is available here:
in "A Voyage Through Scales - The Earth System in Space and Time", European Geosciences Union, pp. 26-31, 2015 (click here for the full article)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Δολοφονία του Λίνκολν

Για τα 150 χρόνια από τη δολοφονία του Λίνκολν

United States President Abraham Lincoln was shot on Good Friday, April 14, 1865, while attending the play Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC, as the American Civil War was drawing to a close. The assassination occurred five days after the commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, General Robert E. Lee, surrendered to Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant and the Union Army of the Potomac. Lincoln was the first American president to be assassinated.

Ο Λίνκολν ήταν ίσως ο πιο ταπεινής καταγωγής ηγέτης μεγάλου κράτους. Γόνος αγροτών, γεννήθηκε σε μια καλύβα στα τότε όρια των Ηνωμένων Πολιτειών και η εκπαίδευσή του περιορίστηκε σε 18 μήνες μαθημάτων από πλανόδιους δασκάλους και στην κατ' ιδίαν μελέτη. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Gardelegen massacre

Under the direction of an American soldier, German civilians from Gardelegen carry wooden crosses to the site where they were ordered to bury the bodies of concentration camp prisoners killed by the SS in a barn just outside the town.

The Gardelegen massacre was a massacre perpetrated by German SS and Luftwaffe troops during World War II. On April 13, 1945, on the Isenschnibbe estate near the northern German town of Gardelegen, the troops forced 1,016 slave laborers who were part of a transport evacuated from the Mittelbau-Dora labor camp into a large barn which was then lit on fire. Most of the prisoners were burned alive; some were shot trying to escape. The crime was discovered two days later by F Company, 2nd Battalion, 405th Regiment, U.S. 102nd Infantry Division, when the U.S. Army occupied the area.
The horrific details:

Saturday, April 11, 2015

δος μοι τούτον τον ξένον

Δος μοι τούτον τον ξένον, τον εκ βρέφους ως ξένον,
 ξενωθέντα εν κόσμω.
Δος μοι τούτον τον ξένον, ον ομόφυλοι, μισούντες 
θανατούσιν ως ξένον.
Δος μοι τούτον τον ξένον, 
ον ξενίζομαι βλέπειν 
του θανάτου το ξένον.
Δος μοι τούτον τον ξένον, όστις οίδε ξενίζειν 
τους πτωχούς και τους ξένους.
Δος μοι τούτον τον ξένον, ινα κρύψω εν τάφω,
 ος ως ξένος ουκ έχει 
την κεφαλήν πού κλίνη

Friday, April 10, 2015

πώς σε κηδεύσω Θεέ μου;

Σε τον αναβαλλόμενον το φως, ώσπερ ιμάτιον, καθελών Ιωσήφ από του ξύλου συν Νικοδήμω, και θεωρήσας νεκρόν, γυμνόν, άταφον,ευσυμπάθητον θρήνον αναλαβών,
οδυρόμενος έλεγεν ... πώς σε κηδεύσω, Θεέ μου; ή πώς σινδόσιν ειλήσω; ποίαις χερσί δε προσψαύσω, το σον ακήρατον σώμα; ή ποία άσματα μέλψω, τη ση εξόδω, οικτίρμον;
Μεγαλύνω τα Πάθη σου υμνολογώ και την ταφήν σου, συν τη Αναστάσει, κραυγάζων˙ Κύριε, δόξα σοι.

Δοξαστικό του Εσπερινού της Μεγάλης Παρασκευής

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Ecce Homo

Ecce Homo - Antonio Ciseri

Εισήλθεν ούν εις το πραιτώριον πάλιν ο Πιλάτος και εφώνησε τον Ιησούν και είπεν αυτώ· Σύ εί ο βασιλεύς των Ιουδαίων; απεκρίθη αυτώ ο Ιησούς· Αφ' εαυτού σύ τούτο λέγεις ή άλλοι σοι είπον περί εμού; απεκρίθη ο Πιλάτος· Μήτι εγώ Ιουδαίός ειμι; το έθνος το σόν και οι αρχιερείς παρέδωκάν σε εμοί· τι εποίησας; απεκρίθη Ιησούς· Η βασιλεία η εμή ουκ έστιν εκ τού κόσμου τούτου· ει εκ τού κόσμου τούτου ήν η βασιλεία η εμή, οι υπηρέται αν οι εμοί ηγωνίζοντο, ίνα μη παραδοθώ τοίς Ιουδαίοις· νύν δε η βασιλεία η εμή ουκ έστιν εντεύθεν. είπεν ούν αυτώ ο Πιλάτος· Ουκούν βασιλεύς εί σύ; απεκρίθη Ιησούς· Σύ λέγεις ότι βασιλεύς ειμι εγώ. εγώ εις τούτο γεγέννημαι και εις τούτο ελήλυθα εις τον κόσμον, ίνα μαρτυρήσω τή αληθεία· πάς ο ών εκ της αληθείας ακούει μου της φωνής. λέγει αυτώ ο Πιλάτος· Τί εστιν αλήθεια;
Ιωάννης, 18, 33-39

Ecce Homo - Caravaggio

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Ο ύπνος του Ήλιου

Ύπνος (αριστερά) και μαγνητικό ξύπνημα (δεξιά) του Ήλιου / © NASA/SDO

Ο ύπνος του μυρίζει πυρκαγιά ...

Είναι βολική σύμπτωση ότι ο στίχος εμφανίζεται στον Ήλιο τον Πρώτο του Οδυσσέα Ελύτη - αλλά σε άλλους ύπνους αναφέρεται, όχι στον μαγνητικό ύπνο του Ήλιου που χαρακτηρίζει το ελάχιστο του ενδεκαετούς κύκλου της περιοδικής έξαρσης και μείωσης της μαγνητικής δραστηριότητας του εγγύτατου στη Γη άστρου. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Three Laws of Robotics

In memoriam Isaac Asimov (2 January 1920 – 6 April 1992)

Isaac Asimov introduced the Three Laws of Robotics in his 1942 short story "Runaround". The Three Laws are:

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Later Asimov also added a fourth, or zeroth, law, to precede the others:

0. A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.

Friday, April 3, 2015

PhD Thesis

Those who know the letters see double [twice as much as those who don't]
(Greek inscription at the University of Edinburgh)

Four Obvious Rules for Choosing a Thesis Topic:

1. The topic should reflect your previous studies and experience. It should be related to your completed courses; your other research; and your political, cultural, or religious experience.

2. The necessary sources should be materially accessible. You should be near enough to the sources for convenient access, and you should have the permission you need to access them.

3. The necessary sources should be manageable. In other words, you should have the ability, experience, and background knowledge needed to understand the sources.

4. You should have some experience with the methodological framework that you will use in the thesis. For example, if your thesis topic requires you to analyze a Bach violin sonata, you should be versed in music theory and analysis.

Umberto Eco