Isaac Newton… Scientist Extraordinaire. Figured out the laws of physics and composed the law of universal gravitation. Designed an Orbital Cannon, a thought experiment about a super weapon that, given enough gunpowder, could knock the Earth off its orbit. Newton, who composed the Three Laws of Motion.
Newton, the Father of Calculus… defeated by… you guessed it… A CAT.
Nothing throws off your deep thought process quite like this:
Surely, the man who vastly improved the telescope could solve this simple problem!
If you think this, you surely have never met a Determined Feline.
Like Nerds Immemorial, Newton was a single guy. No marriages, no girlfriends. But he did have cats; cats who care nothing about scientific inquiry, unless it is a careful gauging of how much food is left in the feeder before Panic and Rioting should ensue (answer: Let X = Anything below 1/2 of the dispenser). Cats who want in. Cats who want out. Cats who want to stand in the middle of the threshold, making up their minds.
Legend has it that one day, Newton had had enough of scratch-scratch-scratch-MEOW-Scratch-SCratch-SCRatch-SCRATCH and called a carpenter to his home. Newton asked for two holes to be cut in his front door, a large one for his mama cat and a little hole for her kittens. Newton, whose Westminster Abbey tombstone declares that “there has existed such and so great an ornament of the human race,” nonetheless could not figure out that the second hole for the little ones was superfluous. The kittens, of course, just followed their mother through the larger hole.
Is the story true? According to a contemporary of Newton’s, it is “indisputably true…that there are in the door to this day two plugged holes of proper dimensions for the respective egresses of cat and kitten.”
Last month the public library of eNotes’ very own hometown, Seattle, broke the world record for the world’s longest book domino chain. Check it out!
It took twenty-seven volunteers, seven hours, and five attempts in all, but on May 31st at approximately 11pm the Seattle Public Library successfully toppled 2,131 books, domino style. The awesome number of books used allowed the library staff to get creative with the pathway, too, as books climbed ramps, scaled stairs, and at one point spilled across the floor to spell ‘READ’ in giant letters. The books truly seem to have a life of their own as they bypass scenes like a couple sharing a picnic and a woman reading on the beach. In truth, these books were actually given a second life, as all of them had been “retired and donated” to the library. Now that they’ve had their moment in the spotlight, though, all should find a new home, thanks to the library’s ingenious way of getting the books back out there for public consumption:
Books used in the record-setting event can be purchased at upcoming Friends of The Seattle Public Library book sales. Each book will have a special sticker identifying that it helped set the book domino world record, as well as the Web address so the book buyer can watch the video.
Hopefully this attention-grabbing kickoff to the Seattle Public Library’s summer reading program will have a domino effect on the popularity of reading worldwide. Kudos to the two college students who masterminded the entire event: Laura D’Asaro and Luke Greenway of Harvard University and Middlebury College.
A few years ago, artist Candy Chang lost a good friend. The experience left her thinking a lot about death, what in her life was of value, what she wanted to do while she had time, and with whom she should spend those hours. While she knew she wanted to define these objectives, Chang says that she “struggled to maintain perspective.” She wondered if others felt similarly adrift.
Chang noticed that there was an old, abandoned home in her New Orleans neighborhood, a perfect canvas for expression. She, along with a group of friends, painted one side of the home in chalkboard paint and created a “Before I die ___________________ ” stencil:
Chang had no idea what to expect. But she and her friends attached little baskets of chalk to the sides and stepped away to wait and see:
To Chang’s great delight and surprise, the very next day, “ the wall was bursting with handwritten responses and it kept growing: Before I die I want to… sing for millions, hold her one more time, eat a salad with an alien, see my daughter graduate, abandon all insecurities, plant a tree, straddle the International Date Line, be completely myself…”.
Isaac Asimov described George Orwell‘s dystopian novel 1984 as an “attempt to show what life would be like in a world of total evil, in which those controlling the government kept themselves in power by brute force, by distorting the truth, by continually rewriting history, by mesmerising the people generally.”
The novel was written in 1948 and thus set just thirty-five years in the future. This purpose, Asimov explains, was “so that even men who were already in their early middle age at the time the book was published might live to see it if they lived out a normal lifetime.”
Those men were around for the very beginning of the Digital Age and now their sons and daughters are remembering the warnings and apparently encouraging others to read it as well. Although sixty-four years have passed since the publication of 1984, sales of the novel have skyrocketed, up by a whopping 6,000% . The dramatic sales are attributed to revelations last week that the National Security Administration has been secretly using Big Data to collect information about the communications of Americans,
Here are ten passages from 1984 that are giving a new generation of readers pause:
The Kingdom of Hay, in Wales, is more than just a little unique. The entire “kingdom” is comprised of just 1,500 people but it boasts a whopping thirty second hand book stores… that’s one bookstore for every fifty people! Since 1960, the town has accepted used and discarded books and proudly calls itself ”The Town of Books.” Kindles and their ilk, as you can see above, are not welcome.
The small hamlet lies on the border between England and Wales. Every year, to celebrate its love of books, Hay-on-Wye (its official name) hosts a literary festival dubbed “The Woodstock of the Mind.”
The town began its transformation to a book haven in the mid-1960s when one of its residents, Richard Booth, decided to start buying books from libraries that were closing, both in the United States and Europe, and shipping them back to Hay-on-Wye. It didn’t take long to amass thousands of used books. Soon, the town had a “booming secondhand book scene.”
In 1988, the town hosted its first festival. In the intervening twenty-five years, the festival has grown in size and regularly attracts names not only in literature but also from science, and, gasp! technology, although those technophiles had better beware. (This year, Google’s Eric Schmidt was in attendance.) The town’s “Prince” Derek Fitz-Pitt Booth Addyman warns, “People are smuggling e-readers into Hay-on-Wye, but I should make them aware that we are training poodle sniffer dogs to find them.” Probably a joke but…
If you are getting ready to pack your bags for this year’s ten day festival, better hold on. Unfortunately, the festival has just concluded. 2014′s Hay Festival runs from May 22 – June 1, 2014.