(1) BE ON THE LOOKOUT. Rowling’s Potter postcard was probably worth more than the jewels that were taken at the same time — “J.K. Rowling begs fans not to buy stolen ‘Harry Potter’ prequel”.
An extremely rare “Harry Potter” prequel idea, handwritten by bestselling author J.K. Rowling, has been stolen. And the author is pleading with fans not to purchase it on the black market.
According to England’s West Midlands Police, the 800-word story was handwritten on the front and back of an A5 postcard. It was stolen during a robbery in central England, sometime between April 13 and April 24.
Rowling hand wrote the story to raise money for English Pen, an organization that promotes literature. It sold at a charity auction for £25,000 or approximately $32,000, in 2008.
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) May 12, 2017
— West Midlands Police (@WMPolice) May 12, 2017
(2) ROCK OF AGES. National Geographic has a piece on one of the best preserved dinosaurs ever found. “The Amazing Dinosaur Found (Accidentally) by Miners in Canada”.
The cavernous warehouse swells with the hum of ventilation and the buzz of technicians scraping rock from bone with needle-tipped tools resembling miniature jackhammers. But my focus rests on a 2,500-pound mass of stone in the corner.
At first glance the reassembled gray blocks look like a nine-foot-long sculpture of a dinosaur. A bony mosaic of armor coats its neck and back, and gray circles outline individual scales. Its neck gracefully curves to the left, as if reaching toward some tasty plant. But this is no lifelike sculpture. It’s an actual dinosaur, petrified from the snout to the hips….
(3) VAS YOU DERE SHARLY? The biggest bangers of them all make clear any dissent from the prevailing theory is unwelcome — “Big Bang or Big Bounce? Stephen Hawking and Others Pen Angry Letter about How the Universe Began”.
Stephen Hawking and 32 of his fellow scientists have written an angry letter responding to a recent Scientific American article about how the universe began. In it, they declare their “categorical disagreement” with several of the statements made, and explain why the theory of inflation is still one of the best models for the origin of the cosmos.
The article in question was published in February. Titled “Pop Goes the Universe,” physicists Anna Ijjas, Paul J. Steinhardt, Abraham Loeb examine the latest measurements from the European Space Agency relating to cosmic microwave background (CMB).
CMB is the oldest light in the universe—light emitted just after the Big Bang around 13.7 billion years ago. In 2013, a map of the CMB appeared to show how the universe inflated extremely fast, before settling down to become the universe we see today. This, many experts said, backed up models relating to inflation theories, where the universe expanded exponentially fast a fraction of a second after the Big Bang.
However, Ijjas, Steinhardt and Loeb disagreed with this interpretation. “If anything, the Planck data disfavored the simplest inflation models and exacerbated long-standing foundational problems with the theory, providing new reasons to consider competing ideas about the origin and evolution of the universe,” they write.
The three physicists argue that since the 2013 map was produced, more precise data has been gathered. And this data, they say, adds more evidence to the argument that the Big Bang and inflation do not adequately explain how the universe started. “Yet even now the cosmology community has not taken a cold, honest look at the big bang inflationary theory or paid significant attention to critics who question whether inflation happened,” they say….
(4) BICENTENNIAL SPACEWALK. It wasn’t without its problems — “U.S. spacewalkers overcome glitch on 200th station outing”.
Two U.S. astronauts overcame an early equipment glitch to complete an abbreviated spacewalk outside the International Space Station on Friday, accomplishing all the major tasks initially planned for a longer excursion in four hours, NASA said.
Station commander Peggy Whitson and rookie flier Jack Fischer began what was expected to be a 6-1/2-hour spacewalk more than an hour late, after a cable supplying power and cooling water to Fischer’s spacesuit developed a leak.
The spacewalk was the 200th outing in support of station assembly and maintenance since construction of the $100 billion laboratory, which flies about 250 miles (400 km) above Earth, began in 1998.
And the news item inspired David K.M. Klaus to share his theory why the International Space Station doesn’t run as smoothly as the Starship Enterprise.
The largest department on any version of the ENTERPRISE in STAR TREK had to have been Engineering and Ship’s Services — the redshirts — because of the constant amount of maintenance required to keep the ship running smoothly; we don’t have that kind of balance because the crews aren’t large enough — we have a command structure in theory but not used in reality, and everyone doing both science and engineering / maintenance, so neither science nor maintenance get the full attention they demand. Only because there are also engineers on the ground in close communication can the work be accomplished.
(5) AMA PATTERSON OBIT. SF Site News reports author and Clarion grad Ama Patterson (1961-2017) died May 1.
[Patterson] helped found the Beyon’ Dusa writing group and the Carl Brandon Society. She served as a judge for the 2001 Tiptree Award and her short fiction appeared in Dark Matter, Scarab, and 80! Memories and Reflections on Ursula K. Le Guin.
(6) TODAY IN HISTORY
- May 12, 1989 — The aquatic monster is back – in The Return of Swamp Thing.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
- Born May 12, 1935 — Actor, archivist, and legendary monster kid Bob Burns.
(8) MILLIONAIRE BASH. Dick and Jane must be doing a lot more than just seeing Spot run for kindergarteners to be making these numbers — “This Kindergarten Class Threw A ‘Millionaire Bash’ To Celebrate Reading 1 Million Words In A Year”.
Breyden’s mom, Denetta Suragh, told BuzzFeed News the school estimated 1 million words was equal to 250 books, which they kept track of with reading logs.
This year, the entire class met the goal, Suragh said.
“Breyden was really on me about it,” she said. “He was like, ‘I want a limousine ride so we have to turn in all our reading logs!’ It encourages every child to want to read even more.”
(9) A PAIR TO DRAW TO. The ultimate collision of science and science fiction. Hear Neil deGrasse Tyson and William Shatner on Star Talk.
Captain on the bridge: Neil deGrasse Tyson invites Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner, to discuss Star Trek and the enduring power of science fiction. Joined by comic co-host Chuck Nice and astrophysicist Charles Liu, we hit warp speed as we explore the ins and outs of the Star Trek universe. You’ll hear how William landed the iconic role as Captain Kirk and about his memorable role in The Twilight Zone. Charles breaks down why Star Trek: The Original Series was more popular in syndication than during its original on-air run. You’ll also hear William reflect on Star Trek episodes “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” and “The City on the Edge of Forever,” the J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboots, the design of the bridge, and his fascination with the science fiction genre. William also gets a chance to ask Neil questions about the universe, igniting a wonder-infused conversation about spacetime, photons, relativity, and the speed of light. NASA Aerospace Technologist David Batchelor stops by to discuss his article “The Science of Star Trek” and weighs in on what technology from the show could soon become reality. All that, plus, fan-submitted Cosmic Queries on the disappearance of the sun, distant galaxies, neutron stars and we check in with Bill Nye as he shares his appreciation for Star Trek’s optimistic views of the future.
(10) EQUAL TIME. Cirsova editor P. Alexander’s only printable tweet in reply to the discussion here yesterday:
It’s not impossible to
-have friends & readers who were SPs
-support some writers on SP
-have a broadly different view on fiction from SPs
(11) WAVE BYE-BYE. Real cases of the wave in “Wave Rider”, and studies of what makes them happen: “Terrifying 20m-tall rogue waves are actually real”.
However, what really turned the field upside down was a wave that crashed into the Draupner oil platform off the coast of Norway shortly after 3.20pm on New Year’s Day 1995. Hurricane winds were blowing and 39ft (12m) waves were hitting the rig, so the workers had been ordered indoors. No-one saw the wave, but it was recorded by a laser-based rangefinder and measured 85ft (26m) from trough to peak. The significant wave height was 35.4ft (10.8m). According to existing assumptions, such a wave was possible only once every 10,000 years.
The Draupner giant brought with it a new chapter in the science of giant waves. When scientists from the European Union’s MAXWAVE project analysed 30,000 satellite images covering a three-week period during 2003, they found 10 waves around the globe had reached 25 metres or more.
(12) ALONG FOR THE RIDE. “Superbugs ‘Crawled Out’ Of The Ocean 450 Million Years Ago” — and had lucky genes.
About 450 million years, animals made one of the most important decisions in Earth’s history: They left the wet, nourishing seas and started living on the dry, desolate land.
At that moment, humanity’s problems with superbugs probably began.
Scientists at the Broad Institute have found evidence that an important group of antibiotic-resistant bacteria are as old as terrestrial animals themselves.
(13) NOT-SO-SPECIAL. NPR thinks there are too many effects in Arthur: Legend of the Sword; is this a pattern? “‘King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword’: An Edgy Script, Dulled By CGI”.
Note especially the caption on the lead photo.
(14) SONNETS FROM THE PORTUGUESE. Atlas Obscura drops in on the world’s oldest bookshop.
It has changed hands and locations several times and has been renamed 11 different things. But for 285 years, the Livraria Bertrand, as it is known today, has served Lisbon’s bibliophiles and been a space for intellectual and cultural conversations. Opened in 1732, it holds the Guinness record as the world’s oldest bookstore still in operation.
(15) WHEELBARROW BARDS. I don’t know how long this meme will run, but here’s the first three I spotted:
So much depends
a red tulip
glazed with drool
beside the white
— Catherynne Valente (@catvalente) May 12, 2017
This is just to say
I have snorfled the red tulip
You planted in the yard
It's totally cool
It's meant to be snorfled
Look, try it yourself https://t.co/zbtmf5M6wV
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) May 12, 2017
— Pamela L. Gay (@starstryder) May 12, 2017
(16) TIMOTHY IN THE OVAL OFFICE. I laughed so much that I was sorely tempted to gank the picture and all of Camestros Felapton’s setup. But fair is fair – go look at the set-up and the payoff post on Camestros’ blog.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, David K.M. Klaus, Hampus Eckerman, Cat Eldridge, Mark-kitteh, Martin Morse Wooster, and Ryan H. for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]