WH Auden attempted to persuade JRR Tolkien to drop the romance between Aragorn and Arwen from the storyline of The Lord of the Rings, describing it as “unnecessary and perfunctory”, an unpublished letter by the author has revealed.
The Blood Harvest
Each year, half a million horseshoe crabs are captured and bled alive to create an unparalleled biomedical technology.
The thing about the blood that everyone notices first: It’s blue, baby blue.
The marvelous thing about horseshoe crab blood, though, isn’t the color. It’s a chemical found only in the amoebocytes of its blood cells that can detect mere traces of bacterial presence and trap them in inescapable clots.
To take advantage of this biological idiosyncrasy, pharmaceutical companies burst the cells that contain the chemical, called coagulogen. Then, they can use the coagulogen to detect contamination in any solution that might come into contact with blood. If there are dangerous bacterial endotoxins in the liquid—even at a concentration of one part per trillion—the horseshoe crab blood extract will go to work, turning the solution into what scientist Fred Bang, who co-discovered the substance, called a “gel.”
Continue reading at The Atlantic
The Ultimate Engineering Dream: Nuclear Fusion
In a perfect example of beating swords into plowshares, a team of scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s (LLNL) National Ignition Facility (NIF) in California reached a milestone in the quest for practical fusion power using a process designed for the development and testing of nuclear weapons. The announcement in the February 12 issue of Nature claims that the team used the world’s most powerful laser barrage to produce a controlled fusion reaction where more energy was extracted from the fuel than was put into it.
If there is an ultimate engineering dream, then nuclear fusion is about as close as close as one can get. By literally harnessing the power of the stars, it holds the promise of what is, for all practical purposes, unlimited clean energy. Since man-made fusion was first demonstrated in 1951 with a boosted fission weapon, scientists and engineers have worked on some way to produce a practical fusion reactor instead of a hydrogen bomb.
JRR Tolkien advised by WH Auden to drop romance in the final volume of the Lord of the Rings
For hardcore geeks only: Typography in the Movie 2001
2001: A Space Odyssey – Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 sci-fi masterpiece – seems an appropriate place to start a blog about typography in sci-fi. Amongst other delights, it offers a zero-gravity toilet, emergency resuscitations, exploding bolts, and product placement aplenty. It’s also the Ur Example of Eurostile Bold Extended’s regular appearance in spacecraft user interfaces.