Links for 2009-12-11

  • "Yes, I've written a review of a Blu-ray disc that features little more than a burning fireplace. I know it's a little weird. Here's something even weirder: Everyone has their favorite television holiday special, right? Mine is the Yule Log."
  • "Snape, as a student, apparently used the same textbook that he is teaching with now. When he was a student, he figured out all sorts of small improvements to make better potions more easily. He KNOWS how to do this. He figured it out already. And yet he doesn't teach what he learned. Harry, using Snape's original copy with his notes, outperforms his peers and has success with potions like he never had before. As far as I can tell, potion-making can be taught like cooking, and having the right recipe matters."
  • "Now, an astronomer at the University of Rochester and his colleagues have made the surprise discovery that Alcor is also actually two stars, and is apparently gravitationally bound to the Mizar system, making the whole group a sextuplet. This would make the Mizar-Alcor sextuplet the second-nearest such system known. The discovery is especially surprising because Alcor is one of the most studied stars in the sky."
  • "I have a cold, and I have very little energy, but I can only sit around blowing my nose for so long, after which I get kinda stir-crazy. Hmmm, there's this nitrogen laser on the bench; I wonder if I can make RGB "white" laser light from one single cuvette of dye..."
  • ""We all know what happens when you split an infinitive," remarked Prof. John Wurterschmidt, "but we're only familiar with the results at pedestrian energies. Until now, nobody has investigated what happens when you [collide words] at hundreds of MeV. Is the language relativistic? That is, we need to be finding out if words take on new meanings when they are traveling at a significant fraction of the speed of light. And, of course, the ultimate goal of discovering if there is an inherent structure to language, beyond what we give it. We really need this. A whole lot more than yet another analysis of Wuthering Heights.""

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So how do the four stars in Mizar orbit each other? Is it two groups of two?

By Katharine (not verified) on 11 Dec 2009 #permalink

Snape's teaching can be explained if textbooks have to be passed by the Ministry of Magic, or some (conservative in practice) equivalent of a Board of Education, and if Snape enjoyed hoarding to himself the "secret knowledge" of better potion making---a sort of secret superiority over, initially, his more popular schoolmates, and later applied more generally to the wizarding community.