R.I.P. Ursula K. Le Guin



The form of the book is a mosaic of primary sources, an interstellar ethnographer’s notebook, ranging from matter-of-fact journal entries to fragments of alien myth. Writers as diverse as Zadie Smith and Algis Budrys have cited The Left Hand of Darkness as an influence, and Harold Bloom included it in The Western Canon

via a John Wray, Paris Review interview

Back in 2015 Motherboard published “one of Le Guin’s political essays.” An excerpt/version of her Foreword for a new (at the time) collection of Murray Bookchin essays, The Next Revolution: Popular Assemblies and the Promise of Direct Democracy which provide “the theoretical underpinning for an egalitarian and directly democratic ecological society, with a practical approach for how to build it.

For the New Yorker, biographer Julie Phillips explains

Le Guin never stopped insisting on the beauty and subversive power of the imagination. Fantasy and speculation weren’t only about invention; they were about challenging the established order.


first detailed computer calculation of a black hole’s appearance



In 1978 at the Paris Observatory, Jean-Pierre Luminet became the first to make a detailed computer calculation of a black hole’s appearance. He did so, he told me, by programming a (by then already obsolete) 1960s IBM 7040 computer, using punch cards…Because Luminet had no way to print out the resulting image or visualize it on a screen, he used the data to draw an image by hand, putting individual dots of India ink onto a photographic negative.

via @(((Castelvecchi)))

re: Dmanisi

nearly two million years of history, the medieval city, whose walls still stand, built on top of a Bronze Age settlement that’s 5,000 years old, and still beneath that, the 1.8 million-year-old remains of one of modern human’s earliest ancestors.


Rendering of what the inhabitants of Dmanisi could have looked like 1.8 million years ago. Photo by Hari Sreenivasan

Also highlights the work of Paul Salopek and the Out of Eden Walk. Recently he reluctantly, said Goodbye to Georgia and left the heart of the Caucasus.

More via PBS.org

“Hooray, no more string theory”

Chris Lee on Quantum gravity and space’s informational entropy

Space is the set of dimensions that allows motion to take place, but it also stores information via its configuration—no, I don’t know how that happens—but the maximum amount of information per unit space is finite. Essentially, there are only so many configurations available to space and, once you have used them all, no more information can be stored. So, we have space, even empty space, that has information sitting in it.

Read more (here)