November 13th, 2005


Still No Balls of Fire

Cerulean evening was without trace of clouds and, though the moon was bright, and the air brisk, I expected my best chance yet to see a Taurid fireball (I've become obsessed with them!) But slowly the clouds regathered, until they crowded all the horizons, leaving only a broad reveal of starlit sky directly above. Pleasant though it was to see, and even more the cloud-caught moonlight which made of the landscape a dim and suggestive mystery, it was not what I wanted. It was like being stuck in a silent, domed church with vague angels of paint looking down, knowing I would rather be at the carnival with the dissolute, reveling crowd, watching the sinister tattooed man lick flames and leer.

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caillebotte_the balcony

Happy 60th Birthday, Computer!

From George Dyson:
Exactly sixty years ago, at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, mathematician John von Neumann began seeking funding to build a machine that would do this at electronic speeds. "I am sure that the projected device, or rather the species of devices of which it is to be the first representative, is so radically new that many of its uses will become clear only after it has been put into operation," he wrote to Lewis Strauss on 24 October 1945. "Uses which are likely to be the most important are by definition those which we do not recognize at present because they are farthest removed from our present sphere."