The Friends of the Chapel Hill Public Library have been sponsoring a series of talks on Einstein. Tucker and I were at the first three, but he had a conflict today and I was there alone. Alone with a completely packed room! Dr. Henry Greenside does a fantastic job of making Einsteinian concepts approachable and understandable to the layman and his listeners obviously appreciate his work.
Einstein’s most spectacular achievement as a scientist was his 1915 general theory of relativity, which explained gravity as a geometric bending of spacetime by matter.
Dr. Henry Greenside, Professor of Physics at Duke University, will present a non-technical overview of Einstein’s theory and then explain some of its amazing implications, including the bending of light by gravity, how strong gravitational fields cause time to slow down, the properties of black holes that form when massive stars die, and how space itself can expand and contract. Dr. Greenside will desribe how general relativity is being used by scientists to understand many mysterious astronomical observations — monstrous black holes at the center of each galaxy, an ever-expanding universe, and the mysterious “dark matter” of which the universe consists.
Finally, Dr. Greenside will describe the major crisis with which physics is currently faced: our two greatest physical theories — general relativity and quantum mechanics — conflict with one another. The resolution of this crisis is likely to lead to spectacular and unprecedented insights.
Okay, it’s not a final report, but it’s an end of Fall semester analysis. Fred has been reviewing the Facebook usage at UNC in aggregate (not in detail) for the past semester and he has some very interesting findings. Check them all out at his blog. Much insight into UNC students’ political self-identity, ideas and practices of privacy, taste in music, books and film.
Sam Garrard was an amazing man. I never knew him even though I had met him a few times and knew his family pretty well. Sam had Parkinson’s in the very late stages when I met him. It was at the Celebration of His Life, his funeral, that I got a glimpse of Sam, a look at how he helped create and sustain his family with their love of nature, of arts, of the outdoors and of ideas.
Sam’s very musical family celebrated his wide interest in music. Sam had started his adult life as a violinist and a music educator. He was someone who would play Bach’s Concerto in D Minor as well as bluegrass and traditional fiddle music.
Later thanks to the draft he became a pilot.
He kept a journal, a moving book from the excerpts, about his life as an Eastern Airlines pilot, about the sky from the cockpit, about the rare priviledge of being able to fly. He wrote movingly about music and how it communicated, how it lifted.
Sam’s service bulletin began with a Rilke poem that ends “am I a falcon, a storm, or a great song?” and ended with a lecture quote from Wilber Wright “If you are looking for perfect safety, you will do well to sit on a fence and wath birds; but if you really wish to learn, you must mount the machine and become acquainted with its tricks by actual trial.”
The service was lovingly arranged and deeply thoughtout and sincerely touching. Afterwards I felt that I had begun to know the Sam Garrard that Parkinson’s has taken away.
After the service which was out in the county near the Eno River at Pleasant Green Methodist where many members of Sam’s family are buried, Jane and I saw vultures soaring. They are lovely at a distance. But we began to see them landing in a dead tree. By the time we got close to the tree, there were at least twenty of the raw red heads settled in for the night there.