Archive for March 17, 2011


Posted in Poetry with tags , on March 17, 2011 by telescoper

We are the clouds that veil the midnight moon;
How restlessly they speed, and gleam, and quiver,
Streaking the darkness radiantly!–yet soon
Night closes round, and they are lost forever:

Or like forgotten lyres, whose dissonant strings
Give various response to each varying blast,
To whose frail frame no second motion brings
One mood or modulation like the last.

We rest.–A dream has power to poison sleep;
We rise.–One wandering thought pollutes the day;
We feel, conceive or reason, laugh or weep;
Embrace fond foe, or cast our cares away:

It is the same!–For, be it joy or sorrow,
The path of its departure still is free:
Man’s yesterday may ne’er be like his morrow;
Nought may endure but Mutability.

by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)


Desperate Measures

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on March 17, 2011 by telescoper

Heard this morning that helicopters are being used to drop sea water onto the stricken reactors at Fukushima. This looks like desperation to me. A back of the envelope calculation suggests there’s no way they can get enough water in that way, and it’s exposing the pilots to radiation risk too.

I’ve been looking at the layout of the plant I posted yesterday

Notice that it’s right on the coast, with the sea just metres away from the reactors. It seems to me that what they could do is get hold of some ships (e.g. fire-fighting vessels) with heavy duty pumping equipment, get them right up to the plant, get the pumps working and then get all the crews the hell out of there.

Can anyone see a reason why that wouldn’t work?

And while I’m at it, over on Cosmic Variance there’s a pretty clear explanation of what exactly went wrong when the tsunami struck.

Although the tone of the above post is a tad melodramatic, it’s nothing compared to what Michio Kaku’s been saying. Physicists never look good when they go seeking publicity for themselves…

Here’s a more measured summary at New Scientist and another from the Telegraph by way of balance.


Things to Come

Posted in Jazz with tags , , , , , on March 17, 2011 by telescoper

I haven’t posted anywhere near enough music by the great Dizzy Gillespie on here so I thought I’d put up this clip which shows him in 1968 leading a phenomenal big band. Things to Come was an original composition by Dizzy Gillespie but it was Gil Fuller who provided the complex, gyrating arrangement which broke new ground when it was first performed (in 1946) in terms of the technical demands it made on the musicians, especially the trumpet section, but also in the sheer excitement it generated when performed live. This clip features a later version of Dizzy Gillespie’s Big Band which re-formed for a time in the 1960s after  a fairly lengthy hiatus, but it does contain several musicians who played in its earlier manifestation, including James Moody on tenor, who sadly passed away last December, but it is Paul Jeffrey who plays the wild tenor solo on this track. Star of the show, however, is undoubtedly Dizzy Gillespie whose staggering pyrotechnics threaten to blow the roof off!