Quotation – June 30, 2012

If you stuff yourself full of poems, essays, plays, stories, novels, films, comic strips, magazines, music, you automatically explode every morning like Old Faithful.  I have never had a dry spell in my life, mainly because I feed myself well, to the point of bursting.  I wake early and hear my morning voices leaping around in my head like jumping beans.  I get out of bed quickly, to trap them before they escape.

Ray Bradbury


Quotation – June 28, 2012

I said the hell with Plot, I’m going to write stories about people that interest me, the way I see them.  I’m sick of formula.  I’m sick of Hero, Heroine, Heavy. …  I’m sick of Characters.  I’m going to write about men and women, all classes, types and conditions, within the limits of my own capabilities.  People with faults, with nasty tempers, with weaknesses and loves and hates and fears and gripes against each other.  People I can believe in because I know and understand them.  People who aren’t like anybody else’s characters because they are themselves, like ’em or don’t.  …  And all of a sudden I began to sell.

Leigh Brackett

Quotation – June 27, 2012

The writer must always leave room for the characters to grow and change.  If you move your characters from plot point to plot point, like painting by the numbers, they often remain stick figures.  They will never take on a life of their own.  The most exciting thing is when you find a character doing something surprising or unplanned.  Like a character saying to me: ‘Hey, Richard, you may think I work for you, but I don’t.  I’m my own person.’

Richard North Patterson

Quotation – June 26. 2012

I’m very concerned with the rhythm of language.  ‘The sun came up’ is an inadequate sentence.  Even though it conveys all the necessary information, rhythmically it’s lacking.  The sun came up.  But, if you say, as Laurie Anderson said, ‘The sun came up like a big bald head,’ not only have you, perhaps, entertained the fancy of the reader, but you have made a more complete sentence.  The sound of a sentence.

Tom Robbins

Roman jewellery found in ancient Japan tomb

Roman jewellery found in ancient Japan tomb

Posted by TANN (The Archaeology News Network)

Glass jewellery believed to have been made by Roman craftsmen has been found in an ancient tomb in Japan, researchers said Friday, in a sign the empire’s influence may have reached the edge of Asia.

This handout picture from the Nara National Institute for Cultural Properties taken on September 10, 2011 and received on June 22, 2012 shows a piece of glass jewellery (side view), measuring five millimetres in diametre, believed to have been made by Roman craftsmen, which was found in an ancient tomb at Nagaokakyo near Kyoto, western Japan [Credit:. AFP]

Tests have revealed three glass beads discovered in the Fifth Century “Utsukushi” burial mound in Nagaoka, near Kyoto, were probably made some time between the first and the fourth century, the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties said.

The government-backed institute has recently finished analysing components of the glass beads, measuring five millimetres (0.2 inches) in diametre, with tiny fragments of gilt attached.

It found that the light yellow beads were made with natron, a chemical used to melt glass by craftsmen in the empire, which succeeded the Roman Republic in 27 BC and was ultimately ended by the Fall of Constantinople in 1453.

The beads, which have a hole through the middle, were made with a multilayering technique — a relatively sophisticated method in which craftsmen piled up layers of glass, often sandwiching gold leaf in between.

“They are one of the oldest multilayered glass products found in Japan, and very rare accessories that were believed to be made in the Roman Empire and sent to Japan,” said Tomomi Tamura, a researcher at the institute.

The Roman Empire was concentrated around the Mediterranean Sea and stretched northwards to occupy present-day England. The finding in Japan, some 10,000 kilometres (6,000 miles) from Italy, may shed some light on how far east its influence reached, Tamura said.

“It will also lead to further studies on how they could have got all the way to Japan,” she said.

Source: AFP [June 22, 2012]

Invisible Galaxy Centaurus A

“Invisible Galaxy Centaurus A” –Would Appear 20 Times Size of Full Moon If Human Eyes Could See It 


If our eyes could see radio waves, the nearby galaxy Centaurus A would be one of the biggest and brightest objects in the sky, nearly 20 times the apparent size of a full moon. But our eyes can only see wavelengths between 0.00004 and 0.00008 of a centimeter (where, not surprisingly, the Sun and stars emit most of their energy). The human visual spectrum from violet to red, notes astronomer, James Kaler, is but one octave on an imaginary electromagnetic piano with a keyboard hundreds of kilometers long.

What we can’t see when looking at the galaxy in visible light is that it lies nestled between a pair of giant radio-emitting gas plumes ejected by its supersized black hole. Each plume is nearly a million light-years long.* NASA’s Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope maps gamma rays, radiation that typically packs 100 billion times the energy of radio waves. Nevertheless, and to the surprise of many astrophysicists, the plumes show up clearly in the satellite’s first 10 months of data.”This is something we’ve never seen before in gamma rays,” said Teddy Cheung, a Fermi team member at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington. “Not only do we see the extended radio lobes, but their gamma-ray output is more than ten times greater than their radio output.” If gamma-ray telescopes had matured before their radio counterparts, astronomers would have instead classified Cen A as a “gamma-ray galaxy.”Also known as NGC 5128, Cen A is located about 12 million light-years away in the constellation Centaurus and is one of the first celestial radio sources identified with a galaxy. “A hallmark of radio galaxies is the presence of huge, double-lobed radio-emitting structures around otherwise normal-looking elliptical galaxies,” said Jürgen Knödlseder, a Fermi collaborator at the Center for the Study of Space Radiation in Toulouse, France. “Cen A is a textbook example.”

Astronomers classify Cen A as an “active galaxy,” a term applied to any galaxy whose central region exhibits strong emissions at many different wavelengths. “What powers these emissions is a well-fed black hole millions of times more massive than our sun,” said Yasushi Fukazawa, a co-author of the study at Hiroshima University in Japan. “The black hole somehow diverts some of the matter falling toward it into two oppositely directed jets that stream away from the center.”

Fueled by a black hole estimated at hundreds of millions of times the sun’s mass, Cen A ejects magnetized particle jets moving near the speed of light. Over the course of tens of millions of years, these jets puffed out two giant bubbles filled with magnetic fields and energetic particles — the radio lobes we now see. The radio waves arise as high-speed electrons spiral through the lobes’ tangled magnetic fields.

The entire universe is filled with low-energy radiation — radio photons from the all-pervasive cosmic microwave background, as well as infrared and visible light from stars and galaxies. The presence of this radiation is the key to understanding Cen A’s gamma rays.

“When one of these photons collides with a super-fast particle in the radio lobes, the photon receives such an energy boost, it becomes a gamma ray,” explained co-author Lukasz Stawarz at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency in Sagamihara, Japan.

Although it sounds more like billiards than astrophysics, this process, called inverse Compton scattering, is a common way of making cosmic gamma rays. For Cen A, an especially important aspect is the case where photons from the cosmic microwave background ricochet off of the highest-energy particles in the radio lobes.

In dozens of active galaxies, this process has been shown to produce X-rays. But the Cen A study marks the first case where astronomers have solid evidence that microwave photons can be kicked up to gamma-ray energies.

Fermi cataloged hundreds of blazars and other types of active galaxies in its first year. Before its mission ends, that number may reach several thousand. But because Cen A is so close, so large and so vigorous, it may be the only active galaxy Fermi will view this way.

The Chandra X-Ray image of Cen A at top of the pageprovides one of the best views to date of the effects of an active supermassive black hole. Opposing jets of high-energy particles can be seen extending to the outer reaches of the galaxy, and numerous smaller black holes in binary star systems are also visible.

60066main_image_feature_181_jw4 (2)

The Daily Galaxy via NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Image credit: Credit: NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT Collaboration, Capella Observatory

Quotation – June 23, 2012

I have never felt like I was creating anything.  For me, writing is like walking through a desert and all at once, poking up through the hardpan, I see the top of a chimney.  I know there’s a house under there, and I’m pretty sure that I can dig it up if I want.  That’s how I feel.  It’s like the stories are already there.  what they pay me for is the leap of faith that says: ‘If I sit down and do this, everything will come out OK.'”

Stephen King

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