Of course I went — not to the opening on April 25, but the following Tuesday afternoon, when it was possible to marvel quietly at the way Ms. [...]
In the top drawer of the file cabinet I inherited from my mother, I found an old manila folder full of letters that she and my father exchanged in the early phases of their romance, circa 1928 to 1930.
The little archive is a mix of missives, from folded notes on torn-out scraps of notebook [...]
A handsome new, illustrated edition of Galileo’s great Dialogue on the Two Chief Systems of the World will be published in June, and I was invited to write an introduction.
Of course I accepted. I like introducing other people’s books. It’s something I’ve done perhaps half a dozen times in my life, though never for [...]Continue Reading →
No, not marriage. But something very like, for a person in my profession, given the time commitment implied. I’m trying to describe the scope of a new book idea — a project that could consume my life for at least five years — to a potential publisher.
The point of the book proposal is to awaken the [...]Continue Reading →
I’d been thinking, en route in early November to Australia for my eighth total solar eclipse, that I’d spent more than enough time and money chasing the shadow of the moon. I figured I’d give up the quest after this one last exposure.
But then the weather on Green Island cleared, after a string of gloomy [...]Continue Reading →
On October 15 I had the honor of delivering a lecture about Copernicus’s day job — his lifelong service as personal physician to the bishop of Varmia – in Padua, at the very institution where Copernicus attended medical school early in the 16th century.
I was happy to return to Padua, where another of my heroes, Galileo, spent [...]Continue Reading →
This September marks the one-hundredth anniversary of a discovery that opened the door to our enormous, expanding universe. Astronomer Vesto Melvin Slipher (“V.M.,” as he was always called) made the pivotal observation at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. Using the same telescope through which his boss, Percival Lowell, had perceived canals on Mars, [...]Continue Reading →
Everyone I know mourns the loss this week of astronaut Neil Armstrong. Those of us who saw the live broadcast of the first Moon landing have stood straighter ever since at the mention of his name. Armstrong carried out the combined missions of an explorer, a dare-devil, a visionary, and an emissary for the human race without [...]Continue Reading →
In their quiet, fictional way, hobbits and ents arrived at Mercury this month. They stole no headlines from Curiosity’s successful touchdown on Mars as they slipped into their newfound niche, Crater Tolkien, on the Solar System’s innermost planet.
Crater Tolkien came to light thanks to the year-plus explorations of the Mercury-orbiting spacecraft called MESSENGER [...]Continue Reading →
Today is my last day at the West Cork Literary Festival in Bantry, Ireland, where for the past week I’ve enjoyed the luxury of lecturing about my work and listening to other authors do the same. To remind us of our extreme good fortune, teenagers enrolled in a Festival writing workshop appeared at the [...]Continue Reading →
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