November 3, 2014

Wiki "Friday": astrology / The Luminaries / neutron stars

Theme = stars


Wikipedia is a real downer sometimes:

Astrology has not demonstrated its effectiveness in controlled studies and has no scientific validity.

There are several hyperlinks to pseudoscience.

“Wikipedia!” I want to say, “I was just looking for cultural associations to better understand a novel that I’m reading. Chill out. For a forecast of the day or to better understand my romantic partner, I’m obviously already going to”

[That said, my allegience to this horoscope site took a blow this week.]

The Luminaries

Maybe you heard about this novel when it won the Man Booker Prize or when it won the Governor General’s Award.

Walter Moody in search of gold–the year is 1866–takes a ship to the South Island of New Zealand. Upon arrival he enters the smoking room of a hotel and discovers 12 men. The novel proceeds to chart the actions and observations of these 12 men as they investigate a series of mysterious events.

The novel is organized “according to astrological principles, so that characters are not only associated with signs of the zodiac, or the sun and moon (the "luminaries" of the title), but interact with each other according to the predetermined movement of the heavens” (Thank you Justine Jordan, writing for The Guardian).

Pretty sweet, right?

The characters are heavenly bodies moving in accordance with the actual star charts from 1866!

Eleanor Catton, the author, was born on September 24th, 1985, which makes her a Libra.

Catton currently lives in Auckland with her author and poet partner, and teaches creative writing at the Manukau Institute of Technology. That sounds like a nice life.

Neutron stars

This is for Liam, who says, “Mary, one day we are going to have a serious discussion about astrology… and it’s not going to go well (for you).”

A neutron star, explained Liam, is about the size of Richmond, with a nucleus the size of Stanley Park.

“Neutron stars are the densest and tiniest stars known to exist in the universe;” (That’s Wikipedia, not Liam) although having only the radius of about 10 km, they may have a mass of a few times that of the Sun.”

One final analogy:

“This density is approximately equivalent to the mass of a Boeing 747 compressed to the size of a small grain of sand.”

Also, they can spin up to 700 times a second, and can emit beams of electromagnetic energy called pulsars.

For Halloween next year, you can dress all in white. Apparently that is how neutron stars would appear to the naked eye. Just be sure to spin around really fast, refer to yourself as dense, and maybe carry an old degraded microwave (the kind that would emit dangerous radiation). Ta-da!

I wanted to talk about Stephen Hawking, but we can do that next week.

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