The fall of 1956 temporarily separated Lynn and Carl. Sagan began work at the University of Chicago’s astronomy school in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. This is the home of the Yerkes Observatory. Completed in 1897, the forty-inch Yerkes refractor was housed in a brick-and-terra-cotta domed building. It was by then a storied relic.
Williams Bay had a population of barely 1,000. For city-bred Sagan, it presented a culture shock. For the first time in his life, Sagan encountered anti-Semitism. He also ran into trouble with the law. He attempted to raise funds for the Democratic party, asking householders for a dollar each. As Sagan told it,
I spent all morning going door to door. And I got the most amazing responses: “The what party?” or “Shh! the master will hear!” or “Wait right here, young fellow, and I’ll get my shotgun.” Finally I was arrested by the sheriff, who had had innumerable complaints, on the grounds of peddling without a license. They figured I was peddling receipts at a dollar each. And I was remanded to the custody of the observatory director, who I don’t think understood anything about it, but just said to me, “Be a good boy.”
—Carl Sagan, 1999, by William Poundstone, p.33
The mass of a radioactive substance follows an exponential decay model, with a decay rate of 5% per day. Find the half-life of this substance (that is, the time it takes for one-half the original amount in a given sample of this substance to decay).
Do not round any intermediate computations, and round your answer to the nearest hundredth.
Answer in PDF (read only).
Answer in ODT (read/write).
So, I really enjoyed Midnight in Paris. The way my brain buzzed with the mix of interesting conversation, the music, the atmosphere, the magic, etc. reminded me of how I felt the first time I saw Waking Life.
Continue reading Late Night Movie Logorrhea
From Useless Sexual Trivia: Tastefully Prurient Facts About Everyone’s Favorite Subject*:
“[T]he number of human ova necessary to repopulate the world could fit into a chicken egg.”
The human ovum appears to be roughly spherical:
The diameter of an ovum is ~120 µm. Continue reading Human Ova, Chicken Ova and Misinformation
WolframAlpha says the human ovum is 500 µm. However, several other sources give a number closer to 120:
- 130 µm*
- 150 µm*
- 100 µm*
- 140 µm*
- 100 µm*
“His only regret is that the movie does not depict choke downs – the hospital’s most frequent form of punishment at the time.”