Weekly Photo Challenge: Culture

From the Catedral Nueva in Salamanca, Spain, a whimsical contemporary update on the ancient craft of stone carving:


This section features the famous astronaut and ice cream-eating monkey; you can view a better photo of the astronaut here, along with a good description (debunking) of its origins.

More at The Daily Post weekly photo challenge.

We came in peace for all donuts

Saturday nights, if I can’t sleep, I’ll sometimes listen to a podcasted episode of Quirks and Quarks, CBC Radio One’s flagship science show. Most nights it just keeps me awake, but I don’t mind, because I dig science.

There are a whole range of topics that host Bob McDonald will discuss and I’ll listen along eagerly: anything to do with animal or insect species, plants, evolution, basic chemistry, anthropology, archaeology, technology/robotics, climate change, dinosaurs … you get the idea. Lots of great stuff to listen to and learn from.

Notably missing from the list: anything to do with space and physics. Which are of course the two things that P finds fascinating and which I find unfailingly frustrating, as a listener whose last physics course was circa 1989.

Here’s a sample (made up) Q&Q interview. See if you can figure out where I got lost:

Bob McDonald (genial host, science nerd, seemingly all-around great guy):

So tell us why this discovery of this interstellar cloud is significant …

Jamie MacQuarrie (astrophysicist, professor at a noted university, sounds cute on radio):

Well, the laws of physics say it shouldn’t exist, so that’s a starting point. The cloud, or “Local Fluff” as we call it, is really big, about 30 light years wide, and consists of a mixture of hydrogen and helium atoms. What’s important to know is that it’s surrounded by high-pressure supernova exhaust, left over from when a cluster of supernovas exploded nearby about 10 million years ago. That exhaust should either crush or disperse the Fluff, yet it survives.

Me (smart enough but having problems following this while navigating the McDonald’s (no relation) drive-thru):

Uh … you’re starting to lose me.

Bob McD:

So what is it about the Fluff that makes it so resilient?

Jamie MacQ:

Data from NASA’s Voyager craft show that the Fluff is much more strongly magnetized than we’d suspected — it’s this magnetic field that could provide the counter-pressure required to resist destruction.

Bob McD:

I see. So it’s like when you stretch a rubber band around a donut shape — the outward force of the donut’s crust is what holds the shape intact.

Jamie MacQ:



That … did not help … at all.

And that’s the problem. When it comes to physics and space stuff, Bob’s explanations never, never make things clearer. They just make me want donuts, which is a problem, because I’m at McD’s, not Jimmy Norton’s.

The imaginary Jamie MacQuarrie’s comments cribbed heavily from this non-imaginary article, which I did understand, sort of. Step away from the pop quiz, Slappy.

If you think I’m talking about you here, yeah, you’re probably right.

If you think I’m talking about you here, yeah, you’re probably right.