Modern physics dictates that, after being consumed, information about this matter should be forever lost to the universe. But a new experiment suggests that there might be a way to use quantum mechanics to gain some insight into the interior of a black hole.
Black hole sun / won’t you come / to drive away the rain? 🎶
Two days ago I celebrated Thanksgiving Day, or as we call it, Turkey Day, with my relatives in the US. It was the first time for me to do so in over 20 years.
The myths about the holiday are well-known, so I won’t waste time relating them here (most Americans are happy to go on pretending the “Pilgrim Fathers” started this when really it’s just an excuse for a four-day weekend of stuffing yourself, watching football, and shopping).
In our case, it was the first holiday since my mother passed away. The next two will be even harder. But the oft-trite is oft-true: it was as if the empty chair at the long table was filled with her presence. This year was different.
A passing of the family torch. Dinner at my sister’s house, dessert with her in-laws. Boardgames with aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. Family stories with grandpa. Skype with the grandkids overseas. Most of us drove seven or eight hours roundtrip just to spend one day together.
The grieving process continues. So does life. You can’t pick your relatives, but in some case you get real lucky.
It’s the end of the spring term (finally) at my university in Kyoto, which means I’ll be getting ready for my yearlong sabbatical in Montreal soon. From September I’ll be back at a North American university for the first time since 1997.
This past Monday, city workers came to cut down a cherry tree near our house. It had been there for years.
We found out later that a neighbor had complained that leaves falling in her backyard were a nuisance to clean. The fact that local children (and adults alike) treasured the cherry blossoms each spring seemed to escape her.
And cherry blossom viewing season is just around the corner. What a shame. A waste.
More’s the shame, I only have two pictures of the tree in full bloom.
Fleeting moments, lost in time and memory.
My children wrote a heartfelt letter to the tree, and I taped it as best I could to the stump:
“To the Cherry Tree,
For always showing your cherry blossoms to us until now, thank you.
We miss you, but we’ll never forget that this stump is the stump of a cherry tree.
If this stump ever grows, we want to see cherry blossoms again.”
At the beginning of the month, I found out that my science fiction novella/novellette Adam’s Stepsons had won an award (Readers’ Favorite). The next day, I was selected as a Featured Author by BookWorks. And then less than a week later, Adam’s Stepsons got another award, this time Finalist for Best Novella by the Independent Authors’ Network. Inspired, I worked on my next SF novel and got the word count up to around 25,000.
And then it started to rain.
And kept raining. For about eight to nine days straight. Mold everywhere in the house: the entranceway, the hall, the bath, the kids’ bedroom, even our little library nook (which doubles as my writing room/man cave).
And then (not done with us yet!) the typhoon came. No damage for us but plenty for some of my colleagues and neighbors up north in Kyoto and Gifu.
Our daughter’s sports festival – her last at the nursery school, in which she gets to play snare drum in a marching band – was delayed, and then cancelled.
Then both kids got sick. Waking up several times a night, coughing with stuffy noses, and still having to get up early each morning (6 – 6:30) for school and work for all four of us.
The Month of the Gods (神無月) became the Month without Gods (無 = na (of) as well as naki (without)). As if suddenly abandoned.
So it’s fitting that after only two days of sun, October will end with yet another typhoon. Yikes.
Probably a glancing blow, but the heavy rain that accompanies the storm will no doubt scuttle our plans for a Halloween party for our kids and their friends. It may inspire some writing, however.
As I sit here in front of my computer late at night, on the verge of the 2016 US presidential election, I’m struck by the choice I had to make. Two different versions of a future US society: one that invites multidiversity and multiethnicity in all their chaotic, unpredictable combinations, and one that shuts the door and preserves a traditional us vs them, insider vs outsider mentality.
By all rights, I should support the latter. I’m from a small town of less than 3,000 inhabitants, close to 99.99% white, deep in the heart of Upstate New York. I grew up surrounded by people who basically looked like me, enjoyed camping and hiking, canoeing and fishing, playing baseball and football and video games. Driving. A lot. I did yard work when I was old enough to get my working papers (back then, you didn’t get your social security number until you applied for it after age 14). In the spring, I helped my father in the garden. In the summer I mowed lawns. In the fall I raked leaves. In the winter I shoveled driveways. In high school, I had a part-time at a local pizza place, then at McDonald’s, then washed dishes in a nearby town. All our customers were white. All of them spoke English. It was all just fine, everybody looking the same and acting the same. Everybody just like me. Continue Reading