Friday, June 27, 2014

The 40s: The New Yorker, The Editors, c. 2014

I think if I could bring only one “new” book to the beach this year, it would be: The 40s: The New Yorker.

Almost 700 pages of short essays writing by the best (or at least some of our most famous authors) about one of the most exciting decades of our parents and/or grandparents. Below is a sampling of the short essays or articles that were originally printed in The New Yorker. If it’s a best-seller, perhaps The New Yorker would consider duplicating the effort with one on the 60s, perhaps the most important decade of my generation.

So, here goes, a sampling of selections from The 40s: The New Yorker.

 “Survival,” John Hersey, June 17, 1944 (On Lieutenant John F. Kennedy). Worth the price of the book. The quintessential story of "PT-109." I think as a teen-ager I wanted to build a model of the boat.

 “The Great Foreigner,” Niccolo Tucci, November 23, 1947 (On Albert Einstein). The author takes his mother-in-law, who is visiting from Italy, to visit Albert Einstein in Princeton. It turns out that Einstein’s sister came later to join her brother and now lives with Einstein. Einstein’s sister had been the “surrogate mother” for the author’s own mother. Along with his mother, the author brought his 6-y/o daughter. Very, very enjoyable on so many levels.

 “Come In, Lassie,” Lillian Ross, Febraury 21, 1948, On the Red Scare in Hollywood. Besides being written by a writer I wanted to know more about, a great subject.

“D-Day, Iwo Jima,” John Lardner, March 17, 1945. What can one say, to read this in “real-time” by a great writer?

“The Birch Leaves Falling,” Rebecca West, October 26, 1946 (On the Nuremberg Trials) This helps one understand events following the US toppling of Saddam Hussein. From wiki: Time called her "indisputably the world's number one woman writer" in 1947.

 “Letter from London,” Mollie Panter-Downes, September 14, 1940 (On the Blitz). An excellent first-person account. Reminds me of the biography of Graham Greene when he was in London during the Blitz.

 “Cross-Channel Trip,” A. J. Liebling, July 8, 144 (On D-Day). Superb.

 “La France Et Le Vieux,” Janet Flanner, February 12, 1944 (On Marshall Petain). In addition everything else great about this article, it helps explain a bit of trivia in Casablanca, the greatest movie ever.

 “The Suspended Drawing Room,” S. N. Behrman, January 27, 1945 (On Post-Blitz London). Superb.

“Greek Diary: Communists, Socialists, and Royalists,” Edmund Wilson, October 20, 1945.

“The Beautiful Spoils: Monuments Men,” Janet Flanner, March 8, 1947 (On Nazi Art Theft). I might have skipped this article, saving it for later, had it not been for current interest in the subject and the movie on the subject.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Radioactivity, Marjorie C. Malley

c. 2011

Chapter 1
The Beginnings

Antoine-Henri Becquerel, director of Paris' Museum of Natural History; responsible for large collection of luminescent minerals that his father had assembled. When these minerals absorbed light, they would emit light of wavelengths (colors) different from the original source.

Luminescence: while the incident light is present
Fluorescence: continues to emit the light even when the incident light (e.g., sunlight) is removed
Phosphorescence: if the luminescence continues

Becquerel started testing various minerals.

Uranium: named in 1789 after the newly discovered planet Uranus; it was a heavy metal found mainly in European mines; it was used to color ceramics and glass; no evidence there was anything special about it

Becquerel discovered that uranium phosphoresced even without an antecedent light; laying a piece of uranium on a photograhic plate in a darkened drawer; some time later, the developed play would reveal the outline of the mineral shape that had been placed there.

Concept of ionizing rays.

Chapter Two
The Curies

Madame Curie tested uranium compounds for emitting ionizing rays (which she called "activity"): the ability of an element to emit ionizing rays depended directly upon the amount of uranium it contained, rather than on its physical or chemical state. - p. 24

Madame Curie decided to test many minerals looking for ionizing rays. Only two metals she tested gave off invisible ionizing rays: uranium and thorium.

Thorium, a mineral first identified in Norway, was named in 1829 after the Norse god Thor.

Curie named this "power": "radio-activity," in 1898. These rays became generally known as "Becquerel rays," a term first used by the Curies in the same year.

"If radioactivity was a property of certain elements regardless of their physical or chemical state, radioactivity must be a property of the atoms of these elements, an atomic property. At that time it was considered very important to distinguish between atomic properties and molecular properties. Atomic properties were presumed to be unchanging characteristics of individual atoms, while molecular properties characterized combinations of atoms, such as chemical compounds.."

"As an atomic property, radioactivity would take its place among the established atomic properties of weight, spectra, and valence."

"Looking back, it is tempting to read more into the term atomic property than it meant at the time, and Marie Curie herself encouraged this extrapolation. Becquerel had already concluded that radioactivity was a property of a specific element. Curie went one step further by stating that radioactivity was an atomic property. This insight was significant. However, the term atomic in 1898 did not have the associations it acquired after the discovery of atomic transmutation, especially after atomic reactors and bombs entered the picture." -- p. 26

New Elements! -- p. 26

DNA: The Secret Of Life, James D. Watson

c. 2003

The Double Helix: This is Life

Watson got "hooked on the gene" in his third year at the University of Chicago. His change of heart was inspired by a little book that appeared in 1944, What Is Life:, by the Austrian-born father of wave mechanics, Erwin Shrodinger. The book grew out of several lectures he had given at the Institute for Advanced Study in Dublin, 1943.

DNA located exclusively on chromosomes, but at the time it was too big a molecule for chemists to study. In addition, at the time, most biologists felt that genetic information would be carried by proteins, not by DNA.

DNA had been known for 75 years by then. In 1869, Friedrich Miescher, a Swiss biochemist working in Germany, had isolated DNA, which he called "nuclein."

1930s: DNA shown to be a long molecule containing four different chemical bases: T, A, G, and C. In 1944, it was unknown how these subunits, called deoxynucleotides) of the molecule were chemically linked.

DNA did not move into the genetic limelight until 1944: Oswald Avery's lab, Rockefeller Institute, NYC, reported that the composition of the surface coats of pneumonia bacteria could be changed. For decades, scientists had known there were two strains of Pneumococcus: "smooth" (S) and "rough" (R).

The Pneumococcus coat could transform.

In part because of its bombshell implications, that DNA was the holy grail (genetic material), the resulting February 1944 paper by Avery, MacLeod, and McCarty met with a mixed response.

Avery did not get the Nobel prize. The Nobel committee makes it records public 50 years following each award; it turns out that Swedish physical chemist Einar Hammarsten blocked the nomination of Avery. Hammarsten had produced high quality DNA but still believed that genes to be an undiscovered class of proteins. Even have the double helix was found, Hammersten still said Avery not eligible for the Nobel prize if it couldn't be explained how DNA transmitted information. Avery died in 1955; had he lived a few years long he certainly would have won a Nobel prize for identifying DNA as the genetic material.

When Watson arrived at Indiana University in 1947, Avery's paper came up in discussions all the time.

Cambridge, England: the canny Scottish chemist Alexander Todd identified the chemical bonds that linked together the nucleotides; they were all the same, and thus regular.

At Columbia University, Erwin Chargaff, developed process for measuring relative amounts of A, T, C, and G in each DNA molecule. None were the same.

The Phage Group at Indiana University began after Watson arrived; formed under Watson's Ph.D. supervisor, Salvador Luria (Italian) and Max Delbruck (German) and Alfrey Hershey (American).

Delbruck and Luria (fled Europe; banned from war effort in US) collaborated on phage experiments during successive summers at Cold Spring Harbor. Their theory: phages were "naked genes."

[I had an "aha" moment in medical school when I saw the same thing, that phages/viruses were "naked genes." That was in 1973 - 1974.]

The concept of "naked genes" had been first proposed in 1922 by the imaginative American geneticist Herman J. Muller, who three years later demonstrated that X-rays cause mutations. His belated Nobel Prize came in 1946, just after he joined the faculty at Indiana University. It was his presence, in fact, that led Watson to Indiana.

Watson felt that research on Muller's fruit flies was "the past." The future was Luria's phages, and that's where Watson headed.

Because he was weak in chemistry, Watson would not have survived in a chemistry lab. He therefore took a postdoctoral fellowship in the Copenhagen lab of the biochemist Herman Kalckar in the fall of 1950, studying the small molecules that make up DNA. Watson knew that this would also be a dead end, but his year in Copenhagen turned out to be productive.

To escape the cold Danish spring, Watson went to the Zoological Station at Naples during April and May. During his week there, he attended a small conference on X-ray diffraction methods for determining the 3-D structure of molecules. Initially, he was disillusioned by the conference. And then the last-minute talk on DNA by a 34-year-old Englishman named Maurice Wilkins from the Biophysics Lab of King's College, London.

And then the rest is history as they say.

Wilkins was a physicist; he had worked on the Manhattan Project.

He, too, had read Schrodinger's book and was tackling DNA with X-ray diffraction.

But Wilkins not much interested in talking to Watson at the time.

Watson returns to Copenhagen. Back in America, Caltech's Linus Pauling announced a major triumph: he had found the exact arrangement in which chains of amino acids fold up -- the alpha helix. Short bio of Linus Pauling, p. 43; fascinating.

Then the short history of how Watson ended up at Cavendish, starting at the bottom of page 43.

Chapter Three
Reading The Code: Bringing DNA To Life

The RNA Tie Club -- absolutely fascinating. A small group --
  • G. Gamow -- inducted Edward Teller
  • A. Rich
  • P. Doty
  • R. Ledley
  • M. Yoas
  • R. Williams
  • A. Dounce
  • R. Feynman
  • M Calvin
  • N. Simons
  • E. Teller
  • E. Chargaff
  • N. Metropolis
  • G. Stent
  • J. Watson -- inducted Richard Feynman
  • H. Gordon
  • L. Orgel
  • M. Delbruck
  • F. Crick
  • S. Breener
Notice whose name is missing: Maurice Wilkins.

DNA: molecule model, 1953. Awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (Wilkins, Crick, and Watson, in 1962). Had Rosalind Franklin lived, the problem would have arisen whether to bestow the award upon her or Maurice Wilkins. The Swedes might have resolved the dilemma by awarding them both the Nobel Prize in Chemistry that year. Instead, it went to Max Perutz and John Kendrew, who had elucidated the three-dimensional structures of hemoglobin and myoglobin respectively.

Chapter Four
Playing God: Customized DNA Molecules

Friday, May 30, 2014

God's Equation: Einstein, Relativity, And The Expanding Universe, Amir D. Aczel

c. 1999

Nova (temporary brightness of a white dwarf star):
A nova (plural novae or novas) is a cataclysmic nuclear explosion in a white dwarf, which causes a sudden brightening of the star. Novae are not to be confused with other brightening phenomena such as supernovae or luminous red novae. A nova is caused by the accretion of hydrogen onto the surface of the star, which ignites and starts nuclear fusion in a runaway manner. Novae are thought to occur on the surface of a white dwarf in a binary system. If the two stars are close enough, material can be pulled from the companion star's surface onto the white dwarf.
Supernova (death of a star):
A supernova is a stellar explosion that briefly outshines an entire galaxy, radiating as much energy as the Sun is expected to emit over its entire life span, before fading from view over several weeks or months.
The extremely luminous burst of radiation expels much or all of a star's material at a velocity of up to 30,000 km/s (10% of the speed of light), driving a shock wave into the surrounding interstellar medium. This shock wave sweeps up an expanding shell of gas and dust called a supernova remnant. A great proportion of primary cosmic rays comes from supernovae.
Supernovae are more energetic than a nova. Nova means "new" in Latin, referring to what appears to be a very bright new star shining in the celestial sphere; the prefix "super-" distinguishes supernovae from ordinary novae which are far less luminous. The word supernova was coined by Walter Baade and Fritz Zwicky in 1931.
Supernovae can be triggered in one of two ways: by the sudden re-ignition of nuclear fusion in a degenerate star; or by the gravitational collapse of the core of a massive star.
A degenerate white dwarf may accumulate sufficient material from a companion, either through accretion or via a merger, to raise its core temperature, ignite carbon fusion, and trigger runaway nuclear fusion, completely disrupting the star. The core of a massive star may undergo sudden gravitational collapse, releasing gravitational potential energy that can create a supernova explosion.
Although no supernova has been observed in the Milky Way since Kepler's Star of 1604 (SN 1604), supernova remnants indicate that on average the event occurs about three times every century in the Milky Way. They play a significant role in enriching the interstellar medium with higher mass elements. Furthermore, the expanding shock waves from supernova explosions can trigger the formation of new stars.
Chapter 1: Exploding Stars

Supernova: a massive star, much more massive than itself, runaway fusion, hydrogen --> helium --> carbon; collapses in on itself; becomes a neutron star. Inside the interior of the dense, collapsed star, ordinary protons and electrons can no longer co-exist; they fuse and become neutrons. TYPE IIA.

Super-supernova: TYPE 1A. Six times as bright as an ordinary supernova. Again, a white dwarf attracts surrounding matter, becomes 1.4 times as massive as our Sun, and then explodes.

Perlmutter, late 1990s, noted that the universe's expansion was accelerating; unheard of at that time, and not expected. This meant something frightening: our universe is infinite. Announced to the world in 1998. The mass of the known universe was too small to stop the universe from expanding forever.

"Sunsets are red, the sky is blue" -- Rayleigh's Blue Sky Law that every beginning physics student recites.

Chapter 2: Early Einstein

Chapter 3: Prague, 1911

Chapter 4: Euclid's Riddle
p. 59 -- "the happiest thought"

Famous thought experiment: imagined a circle spinning in space -- the center of the circle did not move but its circumference was moving quickly in a circular directions....concluded that the boundary of the disk contracted as it spun...a force acting on the circle at the boundary -- the centrifugal force -- and its action as analogous to that of a gravitational force. But the same contraction that affected the outer circle left the diameter unchanged. Thus Einstein concluded, in a way that surprised even him, the ratio of the circle to the diameter was no longer pi. He deduced that in the presence of a gravitational force (or field), the geometry of space in non-Euclidian.

Chapter 5: Grossman's Notebooks
  • concept of a tensor
  • increasingly complex mathematics needed to solve the problems of relativity; Grossman, a contemporary student, helped him
  • 1913: the visit to Zurich that would change his life forever; Max Planck (1858 - 1947) and Hermann Nernst (1864 - 1941) visited Zurich where Einstein was (ETH); at their insistence he moved to Berlin, center of anti-Semitism at the time
Chapter 6: The Crimean Expedition
  • the Crimean, August 1, 1914
  • collaboration with Freundlich
  • August 2, 1913: excited; "I am quite convinced that the rays of light get bent."
  • also very interested in Freundlich's interest in double stars
  • December 7, 1913: the eclipse viewed from the Crimean would prove/disprove whether rays of light bend
  • Einstein spends considerable time countering Freundlich's assertion that detection of starlight shifts near the Sun could be done in daytime without a total solar eclipse. Einstein said "no" in no uncertain terms. Author's footnote: this feat is still not possible today. Even during an eclipse, detecting the bending of light requires a complicated procedure.
  • July 19, 1914: reach the town of Feodosiya in the Crimea
  • [June 28, 1914: Archduke Ferdinand assassinated.]
  • a rift develops between Freundlich and Einstein; author suggests it was Einstein's fault
  • Einstein reading astronomer Arthur Eddington's work; coincidentally, and unknown at that time, March 1, 1919, Eddington was planning to embark on a trip to to an island off the coast of equatorial Africa to watch an eclipse of the Sun to try to detect the bending of star light to prove Einstein's theory of general relativity
Chapter 7: Riemann's Metric
  • Riemann attracted to Gottingen where Gauss was teaching
  • Gauss assigned Riemann his third choice for a presentation to start Riemann on his road to a position at Gottingen: a whole new theory in geometry requiring the fields of complex numbers and number theory
  • Riemann's presentation was a theory that would change the face of both geometry and the physical sciences forever. What was Riemann's groundbreaking idea?
  • Riemann decided that the property of a surface that he needed to understand and capture was the notion of a distance (also called a metric). Riemann used a non-flat surface, developed a new formula, and 60 years later, Einstein would use that formula to finally derive the equations of general relativity; a crucial element in Einstein's tensor equation, signifying the metric tensor. The metric tensor would allow Einstein to account for the curvature that the gravitational field imposed upon the space of the universe
  • Riemann's idea led to a new theory: differential geometry
  • the general approach had implications in the field of topology
  • topology is the study of spaces and continuous functions; it deals with questions such as whether a surface is connected or made up of several disconnected components; whether sequences of points converge to a point in the space itself or outside it; and whether it is possible to cover an infinite space with a finite collection of subsets
  • equivalences: a cup with a single handle and a doughnut for example
  • Reimann died of consumption, at a villa on Lago Maggiore in northern Italy, 1866; age 39
Chapter 8: Berlin: The Field Equation
  • Einstein: voted into the Prussian Academy in Berlin, 1913, war
  • "The race to finish the general theory of relativity is a story of mathematical trial-and-error in solving the great puzzle of matter and gravitation, which Einstein performed at an amazing speed during one incredible month: November, 1915."
  • all of his problems would be solved in a whirlwind of mathematical research using Riemannian geometry during November
  • a great chapter explaining, almost day-by-day, how Einstein solved the problem
Chapter 9: Principe Island, 1919
  • the story of smuggling Einstein's paper on general relativity to Arthur Eddington in England
  • Eddington, born 1882
  • fascinated by large numbers; as a youngster memorized the entire 24 x 24 multiplication table
  • Dyson and Eddington, near the end of WWI -- set out to prove general relativity; another eclipse, Brazil
  • their trip was successful; verified Einstein's equations
Chapter 10: The Joint Meeting
  • 1919: results were verified by Eddington, but Einstein was not informed
  • September 1919: Einstein informed
  • it is now clear, that near a massive object, space is non-Euclidean -- it is curved
  • the question may then arise: what is the shape of the entire universe, not just hte local neighborhood of a massive object such as a star? But here again, Einstein was way ahead of the crowd
  • Einstein had already begun to consider the shape and evolution of the entire universe two years before the big event of the 1919 eclipse
  • his work would lead him to the most controversial hypothesis of his life
  • in 1917, while manipulating his field equation, Einstein unwittingly opened a Pandora's box
Chapter 11: Cosmological Considerations


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Three Books On "Math" To Consider Reading

From Zero to Infinity, Constance Reid, c. 1992. A small, short. soft cover. This little classic, first published in 1955, was Constance Reid's first book, and it has earned a special place in popular mathematical literature -- from the back cover.

Conquering Calculus: The Easy Road to Understanding Mathematics, Jefferson Hane Weaver, c. 1998. Almost all prose, very few formulas or even numbers in the book. Deceptive title: not on "calculus" as I thought, but on "calculus" as in calculating. The author is a lawyer which explains a lot.

Trigonometric Delights, Eli Maor, c. 1998.
The first nine chapters require only basic algebra and trigonometry; the remaining chapters rely on some knowledge of calculus (no higher than Calculus II). Much of the material should thus be accessible to high school and college students.

Rhind Papyrus:
  • bought in 1858, by a Scottish lawyer and antiquarian, A. Henry Rhind
  • found a few years earlier in the ruins of a small building in Thebes (near present-day Luxor), Upper Egypt
  • 84 mathematical problems
  • a scroll 18 feet long; 13 inches wide
  • Rhind died at age 30; British Museum gets the papyrus; a bit of it missing; miraculously, the missing portion possessed by the New-York Historical Society; complete text is now available
  • originally copied around 1650 BC (reign of King A-user-Re, Hyksos dynasty)
  • probably written during reign of King Ne-ma'et-Re, Amenem-het III, 1849 to 1801 BC
  • the word degree originated with the Greeks
  • Greek word "moira"
  • Arabs translated "moira" into daraja (akin to the Hebrew dar'ggah, a step on a ladder or scale); this in turn:
  • Latin: de gradus, --> degree
  • Greeks: the sixtieth part of a degree the "first part," the sixtieth part of that the "second part," and so on
  • Latin: the former was calls pars minuta prima ("first small part") and the latter pars minuta secunda ("second small part") from which came our minute and second
  • why we use radians instead of degrees
  • eliminates the unwanted factor, π /180
  • also, a small angle and its sine are nearly equal numerically (p. 17)
  • sine of one degree (sin 1°) = 0.0174524
  • one degree = 0.0174533 radian, so the angle and its sine agree to within one hundred thousandth; for an angle of 0.5° (again expressed in radians), the agreement is within one millionth, and so on -- the smaller than angle the closer the sine (of its measure in radians) and its measure in degrees (again: the sine of one 1°  = 0.0174524 and 1° = 0.0174533 radians;
  • again, 1° = 0.0174524 radians
  • sine (1) = 0.0174533
  • radian: modern vintage; coined by Lord Kelvin, 1871
  • Greek trigonon = traingle
  • Greek metron = measure
  • ghomon: an analog device for computing cotangent function; ghomon = "shadow reckoning"
  • Hipparchus: trigonometry in the modern sense began with Hipparchus of Nicaea (ca. 190 - 120 BC); stars
  • Ptolemy: first major work on trigonometry to have come to us intact from Ptolemy (ca. 85 - ca. 165 AD); Alexandria, the intellectual center of the Hellenistic world (unrelated to the Ptolemy dynasty that ruled Egypt after the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC); star catalog based on Hipparchus' work; names 48 constellations (still in use today); standard map used well into Middle Ages; greatest work, Almagest, a summary of mathematical astronomy, 13 books, reminiscent of the 13 books of Euclid's Elements (forms core of classical geometry); similarities go even farther; evolution of Almagest:
  • Ptolemy's title translated to "mathematical syntaxis"
  • later generations added the superlative megiste ("greatest")
  • Arabs translated the work into their own language, kept the word megiste but added the conjunction al ("the"); in due time it became known as the Almagest
  • Almagest became cornerstone of geocentric world picture well into 16th century; became the canon of the Roman Church
  • Of particular interest in this chapter: Ptolemy's table of chords; subject of chapters 10 and 11 in the first book of the Almagest; essentially a table of sines. It was the Hindus that shortened the process to come up with a table of sines.

Plimpton 322:
  • item #322 in the G. a. Plimpton Collection at Columbia University in New York
  • earliest trigonometric table?
  • regardless: it proves that the Babylonians were not only familiar with the Pythagorean Theorem a thousand years before Pythagoras, but that they knew the rudiments of number theory and had the computational skills to put the theory into practice
Chapter 3: Six Functions Come Of Age

Aryabhatiya of Aryabhata (ca 510) is considered the earliest Hindu treatise on pure mathematics
it is also the first work to refer explicitly to the sine as a function of an angle
  • ardha-jya: the half-chord, sometimes turned around to jya-ardha (chord-half)
  • jya or jiva evolved as shortened version
  • Arabs translated the Aryabhatiya; retained the word jiva without translating its meaning
  • in Arabic -- as also in Hebrew -- words consist mostly of consonants
  • jiva could be pronounced as jiba or jaib, and jaib in Arabic means bosom, fold, or bay
  • Arabic translated into Latin, jaib was translated into sinus, which means bosom, bay, or curve
  • sine became the English version of the Latin sinus
  • abbreviated notation sin was first used by Edmund Gunter (1581 - 1626), an English minister who later became professor of astronomy at Gresham College in London; invented the forerunner to the familiar slide rule; and the notation sin (as well as tan) first appeared in a drawing describing his investion, the "Gunter scale"

Note: sin^2φ = square of sinφ [not, sin(sinφ)]. So sin^2φ = sinφ x sinφ.

The chapter goes on to say how the other trig names originated.

Tangents not really needed until navigational tables were computed in the 15th century.

Tangents and cotangents originated with the gnomon and shadow reckoning. [Coincidentally, and completely unexpected, I came across the "gnomon" again a few days later when reading John North's Stonehenge, c. 1996, p. 401: "Of the Heel Stone he writes that it 'was a gnomon for the purpose of observing the rising of the Sun on the auspicious morn of the summer solstice.'"]

Chapter 4: Trigonometry Becomes Analytic (17th and 18th centuries)
  • Wallis introduced the infinity symbol we use today
  • there are two "types" of trigonometry: computation and analytic
  • computational: associated with the triangle; Napier's table
  • analytic: relationships among the trig functions
  • trig numbers: numbers in their own right; don't have to be associated with the triangle
  • three big areas of study at this time: a) range of cannon projectile; b) navigation on open sea; c) music
  • range of canon projectile; known for a long time, but now had analytic basis
  • navigation on open sea: major area of study in 17th and 18th century oscillations; navigation depended upon clocks of ever greater precision; led scientists to study the oscillations of pendulums and springs of various kinds
  • increased skill and sophistication in building musical instruments; scientists motivated to study vibrations
  • all of this underscored the role of trigonometry in describing periodic phenomena and resulted in a shift of emphasis from computational trig (the compilation of tables) to the relations among trig functions
  • that's why one study "computational trig" in geometry, but then there is a whole new subject called analytic trigonometry that is taught a year or so later
  • developments from trig even farther from its original connection with a triangle; now, trig functions were defined as pure numbers rather than as ratios; for example cos x is now defined as an independent variable itself as a real number rather than an angle
  • Fourier's theorem marks one of the greatest achievements of 19th century analysis: he showed that the sine and cosine functions are essential to the study of all periodic phenomena, simple or complex, in much the same way prime numbers are the building blocks of all integers
  • Fourier's theorem was later generalized to non-periodic functions (in which case the infinite series becomes an integral), as well as to series involving nontrigonometric functions -- crucial in all branches of science
Chapter 5: Measuring Heaven and Earth

Chapter 6: Two Theorems From Geometry

Chapter 7: Epicycloids and Hypocycloids
  • the study of the toy that was put on the market in the 1970s -- the spirograph
Chapter 8: Variations on a Theme by Gauss
  • the story of Gauss summing the numbers 1 to 100
Chapter 9: Had Zeno Only Known This!

Chapter 10: (sin x)/x

Chapter 11: A Remarkable Formula

Chapter 12: tan x
  • of the numerous functions we encounter in elementary mathematics, perhaps the most remarkable is the tangent function, for a couple of reasons, but particularly this reason: tan x has a period π (a function f(x) is said to have a period P if P is the smallest number such that f(x+P) = f(x) for all x in the domain of the function). This fact is quite remarkable: the functions sin x and cos x have the common period 2π, yet the ratio, tan x, reduces the period to π. When it comes to periodicity, the ordinary rules of the algebra of functions may not be valid: the fact that two functions f and g have a common period P does not imply that f + g or fg have the same period.
  • as we saw in chapter 2, the tangent function has its origin in the "shadow reckoning" of antiquity; during the Renaissance it was resurrected -- though, it was not called "tangent" -- in connection with the fledging art of perspective. 
Chapter 13: A Mapmaker's Paradise
  • a cylinder projection of the earth appears to be identical to Mercator's projection, but they resemble each other only superficially; they are based on entirely different principles 
  • Mercator's story
  • Mercator: one of the first to bind in one volume a collection of separate maps: called it an "atlas," in honor of the legendary globe-holding mythological figure that decorated the title page; this work was published in three parts, the last appearing in 1595, one year after his death
  • how he implemented his plan, the spacing between successive parallels had first to be determined. Exactly how Mercator did this is not know (and is still being debated by historians of cartography); he left no written record of his method except for a brief explanation (in the book, p. 173). 
Chapter 14: sin = 2: Imaginary Trigonometry

Chapter 15: Fourier's Theorem
three developments transformed trigonometry
Ptolemy's table of chords
de Moivre's theorem and Euler's formula (e^ix = cos x + i sin x)
Fourier's theorem

Hemingway: The Final Years, Michael Reynolds

c. 1999 (first set of notes completed)

Part One: The Fortunes Of War, July 1940 to November 1944

Chapter 1: Ringing the Changes, July to Early Winter, 1940
WWII -- Germans were in Paris
First wife Hadley and son Jack were in Chicago
Second wife Pauline Pfeiffer with two sons Patrick and Gregory waiting for divorce papers (on grounds of desertion)
for past 1.5 years, Hemingway had been living in Cuba with Martha Gellhorn while still married to Pauline

Chapter 2: To Mandalay and Back, January to September 1941

Chapter 3: Voyagers, September 1941 to Christmas 1942
Back in Sun Valley with Hollywood movers and shakers
Submarine threat in Gulf of Mexico intense
Ernest Hemingway's private war against German submarines

Chapter 4: American Patrol, January to July 1941
The Pilar; hunting submarines

Chapter 5: Intermezzo, August 1943 to May 1944
Martha and Ernest had been a couple for seven years; four clandestine; three married
Apart: sweet, tender letters
Together: huge arguments; Martha wanted to travel, report, WWII; constrained with H. in Cuba
H. moves in on Martha's Collier's; becomes the magazine's lead journalist; to NYC, on way to Europe as war correspondent
Hemingway's and Martha's marriage over; only on paper

Chapter 6: Putting on the Ritz, June, July, August 1944
June 6, 1944 -- D-Day, Hemingway on the Empire Anvil, one of a hundred transports headed to France
Saw Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha, and Utah on his briefing maps
Arrived at Omaha; with binoculars used Coleville church steeple as his guide but brought back to England per military policy; few correspondents allowed to go ashore that first day
Writing from Dorchester Hotel, London; talked to RAF pilots
Hemingway actually flew bombing missions with RAF pilots on Normandy (other correspondents did also)
Spends nights with Mary Welsh in the London hotel, 1944; in peacetime, scandalous; in wartime, no one thought about it; she was married to a correspondent who was in France
Welsh: twice married; once divorced at the time she was with Hemingway; she had multiple liaisons, as did he
Hemingway assigned to Patton's Third Army grouping at Nehou
Then assigned to First Army just as Omar Bradley broke out
Joins up with 22nd Infantry Regiment Colonel Charles "Buck" Lanham
Ernest: part-time journalist; irregular soldier; gatherer of intelligence

Chapter 7: Down Among the Dead Men, September to November 1944

Part Two: A Fall From Grace, 1945 to 1952

Chapter 8: Starting Over, March to December 1945
Eager to return to Cuba; Mary Welsh agrees with trial union in Cuba
End of 1945: divorce final for Martha and Hemingway; Mary now felt like a fiancee
Mary was getting used to Cuba; Hemingway did not care for the nightlife; was cutting down on his drinking and getting back in shape
Working on For Whom The Bell Tolls

Chapter 9: Rules of the Game, 1946
Remembering all the monumental authors he had ever read -- Homer, Proust, James, Joyce -- Hemingway loosely envisioned a book that woudl bring together everything he had learned about structure, landscape, and character
The book went through a huge metamorphosis over 15 years -- the sea war became what is now called Islands in the Stream, and The Old Man and the Sea; the air was eventually abandoned; and the ground war would become the memories of a bitter Army colonel dying in Venice, Across the River and into the Trees.
For the next 15 years, often fishing with his sons off Bimini, Hemingway's memory and his fiction would return again and again to the apartment above the sawmill on rue Notre Dame des Champs where he first found his voice.
Finally, of things past would produce his Paris memoir -- A Moveable Feast.
Mary depressed; not "up" to his previous three wives; -- p. 158; had not "laid any bricks" as one of my girls friends once said
Hemingway himself depressed; many arguments with Mary; often sulked; if all else failed, he threatened suicide
A week after Hemingway's 47th birthday, he learned that gertrude Stein his lieterary mother and godmother to his first son, had died in Paris, leaving tiny Alice to nurture her memory
Hemingway saves Mary's life; burst fallopian tube; hemorrhaging; on way to Idaho; Mary never forgot that her life was saved by Hemingway
Sun Valley Lodge for Mary (see p. 138): with Hadley, he left Chicago for the Latin Quarter of Paris; with Pauline he moved into the St Germaine area and then Key West; with Martha he moved to Finca in Cuba. With each marriage; he gave up some of his favorite spots and few friends at each; now moving to Idaho for Mary.
Sun Valley Lodge for hunting and fishing with his three boys
Returned to the novel he now titled Islands in the Stream
Ketchum, Idaho

Chapter 10: Year of the Dog, 1947
47 years old; aging quickly; hairline receding; liver disease
had not published a book in six years; would not publish another for three more years
1940: a lion among writers
1947: a literary relic
evolving: Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac
a young veteran Norman Mailer was finishing The Naked and the Dead
a 1000-page manuscript; apparently ignoring his own advice to F. Scott Fitzgerald to write short novels
Max Perkins dies, unexpectedly, from pneumonia; for 20 years was Hemingway's editor
Pauline nurses Mary back to health
Failed revolution, Dominican Republic

Chapter 11: Enter Biographers, Stage Left, December 1947 to September 1948
end of chapter, in September, Mary and Ernest to Italy
talk of suicide continues
young assistant editor from Cosmopolitan magazine visits Hemingway in Cuba; Aaron Edward Hotchner wants to do series on Future of Literature; 

Chapter 12: Sentimental Journey, September 1948 to May 1949
meets 18-y/o Adriana Ivancich; falls in love with her

Chapter 13: Venice Preserved, May to December 1949
erratic mood swings continue; talks of death continue
by end of chapter, back in France

Chapter 14: The Middle Parts of Fortune, January to October 1950
Back to NYC and then back to Cuba

Chapter 15: Roadstead of  the Heart, November 1950 to February 1952
listless, depressed; lovesick for Adriana
Adriana and her mother show up in Cuba; live with Hemingways
The Old Man and the Sea
Hemingway's mother in nursing home in Memphis at age 79; hallucinations; senile;

Part Three: End Game, 1952 to 1961

Chapter 16: The Artist's Rewards, March 1952 to June 1953
everyone agreed: The Old Man and the Sea -- stunning, told as simply as a fable, and as tenderly as a love letter
Cuban coup; Batista in power; business as usual

Chapter 17: The Phoenix, June 1953 to March 1954
to Spain, Kenya, and the plane wreck that almost them their lives

Chapter 18: Fortune and Men's Eyes, March 1954 to January 1956
back to Venice; a changed man after the plane crash: his beard whiter, his eyes frequently vacant, his moods mercurial
thirteen months after leaving Cuba, now returned
Nobel Prize winner
now writing his story of his African adventure; Mary was a character in the book and would have a larger role than Pauline had in Green Hills of Africa
father's death February, 1954; mother's move to new nursing home in Minnesota
end of chapter: receives a letter from Sylvia Beach with re: to her memoirs

Chapter 19: Intimations of Mortality, January 1956 to March 1957
movie-making, fishing off coast of Peru
sailed to Spain, but unable to get to Africa due to conflicts on the continent

Chapter 20: Cuba Libre, April 1957 to December 1958
thinking of his memories as a series of short stories

Chapter 21: Exiles from Eden, January 1959 to January 1960
from Ketchum, following the Cuban revolution
Hemingway really starting to lose his sanity; becoming paranoid

Chapter 22: The Body Electric, January 17, 1960, to July 2, 1961
board the Union Pacific's "City of Portland" on first leg back to Cuba
arrive in Cuba
Hotchner his editor
clearly mentally ill by now; refusing treatment
anonymously treated as patient George Saviers
discharged from NYC hospital; back to Ketchum, Idaho
Bay of Pigs
Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
chapter ends as clock ticks to 7:30 am July 2, 1961
born in July, blown up in Italy in July, Pamplona in July, for Hemingway, July was a memorable month
61 years old

Coda, October 26, 1998
a short one-page chapter

Chronology at the end of the book

Monday, May 12, 2014

Hawthorne, A Life, By Brenda Wineapple

This is so cool. I just discovered Brenda Wineapple's 2003 biography of Nathaniel Hawthorne. It turns out I've read another of Wineapple's biography, one on Gertrude Stein.
A few weeks ago I happened to pick up another biography: Sister Brother: Gertrude and Leo Stein by Brenda Wineapple. Now, about one-third of the way through, I realize that the first third of the book could have been subtitled "The Boston (or Harvard) Years." This first third of the book dovetails nicely with Richardson's William James, who in fact was one of Gertrude Stein's professors. She eventually received a "B" from his one semester course that she took. She did "A" work in the first half of the semester, but "C" work during the latter half, during the opera season.
I might be back in a Boston/Harvard/Salem phase with discovering this new biography. I've read the first two chapters and the book is delightful. It's a big book and one I can enjoy for a few weeks, I suppose.

The Biography

Chapter One: Prison Door -- Introductory: the story for Nathaniel and Sophia's three children -- Una (insane), Julian (ne'er do well; ends up in prison; redeems himself); and Rose (a saint).

Chapter Two: Home: the story of Salem, Massachusetts and Nathaniel's forefathers.

Chapter Three: The Forest of Arden: Ebe (Elizabeth) and Nathaniel, from the time he was born until his age of 16; his father died in Sumatra when Nathaniel was four. Many place names in Massachusetts and Maine noted. Paternal grandparent Manning (Maine and Massachusetts) plays prominent role in this chapter. Ebe was very, very bright; self-taught. Nathaniel, not surprising, was a voracious reader; wanted to be a sailor like his dad, before he turned to writing.

Chapter Four: The Era of Good Feelings: college; frittered away his talents. Longfellow gave the commencement speech. Pierce, a close friend, would become the 14th president of the United States (Bowdoin College, in Maine).

Chapter Five: That Dream of Undying Fame: a perfectionist; burned his first manuscripts; headed to Salem after graduation still vague on a career; attended lectures at the Maine Medical School during his senior year; had devoured John Neals' books while in college; Neal was the first to praise Edgar Allen Poe; Neal wanted more American writers, not British writers; added a "w" to Hathorne in 1827, or thereabouts; perhaps to dissociate himself from his family;

Grandmother Manning dies in December, 1826; huge estate divided; Hawthorne earned a small annuity; used cash to pay Boston publishers Marsh and Capen $100 to publish his first novel, Fanshawe: A Tale.

Frustrated with not knowing what to do with his life.

Wrote short stories based on true events in New England, particularly Maine.

During the hot summers, he and his sisters often visited relatives in Newburyport, or ambled over the hard sand at Nahant.

Chapter Six: Storyteller

Begins to write historical fiction; considered quite good in retrospect; set against the colonial-period politics int eh 1730s, 1760s, and 1770s.

Provincial Tales

Chapter Seven: Mr Wakefield

"Wakefield" -- a creepy story
"Hawthorne's best stories penetrate the secret horrors of ordinary life, those interstices in the general routine where suddenly something or someone shifts out of place, changing everything.

1836: Hawthorne now a denizen of Boston; Boston -- a prosperous waterfront; Quincy Market mentioned; "Boston women were pretty, their morals good: an unusual combination, said Franklin Pierce."

Hawthorne was now the editor of a monthly called the American Magazine of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge; much of it short biographies of statesmen like George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, etc. Other than himself, the only other writer was his sister, Ebe

Hawthorne gook room and board at Thomas green Fessenden's house at 53 Hancock Street; but disliked Boston.

The company went bankrupt; no reason for Hawthorne to remain in Boston; back to Salem.

Horatio Bridge finances his first collection of eighteen stories; published by the American Stationers' Company on March 6, 1837. ... "finest forays into the macabre..." meditative sketches; humorous stories. Sold for a dollar and titled Twice-Told Tales after the lines from Shakespeare's King John, "Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale,/Vexing the dull ear of a drowsy man." All eighteen had been published before and selected, said Hawthorne, as "best worth offering to the public a second time."

To publicize it, sent a copy to his former classmate Henry Wadsworth Longfellow who wrote a review.

Franklin Pierce, his own star rising, wants desperately to do something for his friend, Hawthorne. Finances a South Seas expedition for Hawthorne, who always yearned to go to sea.

His first love: Mary Crowninshield Silsbee Sparks.

The South Sea expedition went to Charles Wilkes, not Hawthorne.

Hawthorne returns to Salem, again. Puts marriage plans on hold.

Chapter Eight: The Wedding Knell

"Her charity began at home and ended nowhere, her credulity outran her charity, and by the of her long life she knew less about people's motives than her traffic in them might suggest: so Henry James characterized Elizabeth Palmer Peabody in his 1886 novel The Bostonians, callingher Miss Birdseye and giving her a squint. One could see Peabody in those days, riding a Boston streetcar, hair disheveled, spectacles crooked, bonnet cockeyed, and her beaming face upturned. A garrulous commitment to what she called 'the joy of the Ideal' made her insufferable to many -- this she readily admitted -- but she never yielded her principles or her self-respect. At eighty-two she was the sole survivor of her family, its oldest chronicler, and still the benevolent booster of causes, one of which happened to be her brother-in-law, Nathaniel Hawthorne."

How Elizabeth Peabody and Hawthorne first met is not known. Silsbee and Hawthorne were probably still a couple when Peabody met the author. It's possible Peabody's meddling interrupted/ruined the affair.

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds," Ralph Emerson -- p. 102.

Elizabeth Peabody sought (and succeeded in finding) the identity of the author of Twice-Told Tales.

Hawthorne enters the Peabody world.

The story of Elizabeth Peabody, Bronson Alcott's Boston's progressive Temple School. Elizabeth was Alcott's assistant. Worked tirelessly for no pay; published a book about the unconventional school in 1835; a warehouse fire destroyed all the copies; lost any profit she might have gained. The appearance of handsome Nathaniel Hawthorne rekindled Elizabeth's considerable zest for uncommon projects and unusual people. And that he now wanted to write a children's book was nothing she'd like better.

The story of Horace Mann, secretary of Massachusetts' new board of education about a series of children's books.

A graphic of the Peabody family in 1835: Mrs Elizabeth Peabody; Dr Nathaniel Peabody; Elizabeth and Nathaniel Peabody; George, Sophia, Mary, and Wellington Peabody.

West Newton, Massachusetts, ten miles west of Boston, mentioned, p. 112.

Chapter Nine: The Sister Years
the story of the Peabody sisters, and the family
before the revolution, grandfather Palmer very influential and wealthy
General Joseph Palmer, the grandfather, cultivated the enmity of John Hancock, who confiscated the Palmer home, Friendship Hall, after the Revolution and "sent the Palmers packing"
Elizabeth Palmer (daughter of the disgraced general) married Nathaniel Peabody, the son of an unlettered New England farm, she took refuge in his ancestry, his forebears having touched American soil in 1635
the couple's first child, Elizabeth, born in 1804, the same year as Nathaniel Hawthorne
Mary: 1806
Sophia: 1809
then came the boys: Nathaniel, 1811; George, 1813; Wellington, 1815 (named after the English victory at Waterloo)
1819: last child, a daughter, Catherine, lived only 7 weeks
sons did badly; two died early; all failures
mother and daughters did very, very well
Mary: pretty; Elizabeth: smart; Sophia: neither, resented both her older sisters, takes up art
Peabody home: 53 Charter Street, Salem

Hawthorns and Peabody's close familes
the Silsbee-Peabody-Hawthorne triangle again told

Chapter 10: Romance of the Revenue Service
Mary Silsbee engaged; rumors of romantic connection between Elizabeth Peabody, Nathaniel
Sophia illustrates Nathaniel's stories
epistolary relationship between Nathaniel and Sophia -- he in Boston, she in Salem
Elizabeth spends time near Emerson in Concord, MA
political appointee, Nathaniel Hawthorne appointed inspectorship, Boston Custom House
detested his government job; pretended to like it; made lots of money
folks around him wondered if he was still writing
two more years of letter-writing between Sophia and Nathaniel, to test her resolve, apparently

Chapter 11: The World Found Out

An important chapter.
The engagement (Sophia and Nathaniel) continues.
Margaret Fuller, resident sibyl, organizes another series of "Conversations" for Boston women.
Their magazine, The Dial.
Whig Ploughman of Ohio, William Henry Harrison -- president.
Salem artist Charles Osgood paints Hawthorne's protrait.
Friends of Universal Reform pour into Boston's Chardon Street Chapel to dispute scriptural authority, debate the woman question, and damn the institution of slavery.
Elizabeth Peabody opens her foreign bookshop and lending library at 13 West Street, near Boston Common -- an area not quite residential; not quite commercial; area would become home for liberal Unitarian clergy, increasingly disaffected, who pondered intuition, self-culture, and perfection, the watchwords of a new faith born of German philosophic idealism and imported to America largely by Ralph Waldo Emerson, who spoke heresy in public; spoke at Harvard Divinity School and not invited back for 30 years

Chapter 12: Beautiful Enough

Sophia and Nathaniel marry; surprises Hawthorne's family; very angry with his "betrayal"
Move into the Old Manse, Concord, MA
Hawthorne earned reputation as a misfit; found an accomplice in Henry David Thoreau
Emerson's first wife dies; remarries; second wife Lydia (Lydian)
Emersons lived on dusty Lexington Road
Hawthorne an outcast in Concord; felt himself to be a failure
Sophia's first pregnancy ends in miscarriage
Chapter ends with birth of their first child, a baby girl they named Una, for Spenser's vision of purity

Chapter 13: Repatriation

Poor, penniless, evicted from their home in Concord
Return to Salem; back to Herbert Street
Nathaniel takes an upstairs room; Sophia and baby rent a room down below

Chapter 14: Salem Recidivus

Hawthorne appointed surveyor of the Salem Custom House; President Polk
Salary allowed for some luxuries
Sophia pregnant with second child
Continues to write
Texas admitted into the Union, December 1845; Polk sends Zachary Taylor into Mexico
Sophia's second child: 1846; baby boy, Julian, not named for almost six months
Moved into a bigger house on 14 Mall Street
More and more successful at writing
The origins of The Scarlet Letter
"Margaret Fuller, Una Hawthorne, the Kraitsir affair; Puritans, pariahs, and in Salem, a household of women: the scene is set for The Scarlet Letter."
 It appears that Hawthorne began both The Scarlet Letter and The House of Seven Gables before he was fired as surveyor/Boston Custom House; probably 1846 - 1848, while living on Mall Street

Chapter 15: Scarlet Letters

Returned to Salem like a bad penny; fired from job; his mother dies. Depressed. No job. No income.
Sophia sold artwork; lampshades. Accepted gifts of clothes, money to survive. Sophia did not mind.
Saved by a successful publisher: James T. Fields.
Fields sought Hawthorne out. Collaboration between Hawthorne and Fields lasted a lifetime.
The Scarlet Letter published March 16, 1850, to wide and continuous acclaim; huge success; printings sold out.
Fired from the Boston Custom House: fortunate for America.

Chapter 16: The Uneven Balance 

Despair; move to western Massachusetts with his wife Sophia
Tanglewood in the Berkshires, western Massachusetts
Margaret Fuller sails home from Europe on the ill-fated Elizabeth; en route, the captain dies of smallpox; hit a sandbar; a cargo of marble split the ship's hold; Fuller refused to jump; drowned; neither her body nor Ossoli's never found; their child also drowned
On the day Margaret Fuller died; Herman Melville received a copy of Mosses from an Old Manse (Hawthorne) from Melville's aunt; an auspicious gift; Hawthorne and Melville met shortly after that
Melville writes glowing review of Hawthorn's Mosses from an Old Manse; from then on, in Sophia's eyes, he could do no wrong
Very close relationship developed between older Hawthorne and younger Melville (sexual?)

Chapter 17: The Hidden Life of Property
now writing House of Seven Gables; returns to Salem in his imagination
in The Scarlet Letter, he had focused on his mother and more broadly the complex predicament women faced as wives, mothers, daughters, and sexual beings; in The House of Seven Gables, he again shook the family tree, this time to confront paternal legacy: class, heredity, adn the all but incestuous business of living in one spot for generations, tyrannies and injustices handed down generation after generation like a congenital disease
produced less than a year after The Scarlet Letter
a book of middle age, for time is the novel's cardinal theme, time and its relentless passage in a world hell-bent on progress
very, very long-winded; wordy; "40 pages to describe an event, a cough took up 10 pages, and sitting down in a chair six more."
publication delayed; finally released second week of April, 1851
in May, he was 46 years old, and a new baby born
despite his literary success, still fairly poor
strong believer in states rights; opposed the antislavery movement
excited about a move to West Newton, MA
Melville gives Hawthorne an inscribed copy of Moby-Dick

Chapter 18: Citizen of Somewhere Else
His publisher Fields continues to publish his works, but "neither the notoriety of The Scarlet Letter nor the critical success of The House of the Seven Gables could sweeten Hawthorne's bitterness over the years of neglect and anonymity that he believed he's suffered
no sooner had the Hawthornes settled in West Newton than Hawthorne was ready to leave
visited "Hillside' in Concord; bought it for $1,500, and re-named it "The Wayside"
publishes The Blithedale Romance; Emerson not impressed; Melville was (or least said he was)

Chapter 19: The Main Chance
1852, age 48
his close friend Franklin Pierce elected president; he hoped he would get the foreign posting in Liverpoool; Hawthorne gets it -- the US consul in Liverpool

Chapter 20: This Farther Flight
expects to be in Liverpool for four years (his history up to then: "three years at the Manse, back to Salem and briefly to Boston, where Julian was born; to Salem yet again; to Lenox, West Newton, and Concord." Now to Liverpool, England
but once there, the family is homesick; they don't like Liverpool
very expensive; counted their pennies; tea lone cost a dollar a pound
in Liverpool, Hawthorne earned a reputation for refusing invitations
Sophia is ill (tuberculosis?); to sunnier climate needed;
offer to take position in Lisbon; Hawthorne said no; Sophia went to Portugal alone

Chapter 21: Truth Stranger Than Fiction 
"All women, as authors, feeble and tiresome," Hawthorne bitterly exploded. 'I wish they were forbidden to write, on having their faces deeply scarified wit an oyster-shell." With more and more authors peddling their work, each claiming a readership that threatened him, now more than ever. There were 300,000 copies of Harriet Beecher Stowe's antislavery novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin, circulating the first year of its publication, 1852; by comparison, The Scarlet Letter had sold barely 7,000; the same was true of The Blithedale Romance.
Maria Susanna Cummin's The Lamplighters, selling 40,000 copies in two months, triggered another blast.
still in Liverpool, England
slavery issue
Pierce's presidency was a sorry disaster
particularly abominable was the Kansas-Nebraska bill that effectively repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and allowed slavery to extend its reach into territories previously considered untouchable
Sophia returns to England, 1856, still coughing; hated being away from Nathaniel
the story of Catherine Beecher and Delia Bacon
Bacon shows up in London; Emerson: "Delia Bacon was one of two greatest originals America had yielded in ten years." The other was Walt Whitman.
Delia Bacon was in London to provide that William Shakespeare -- the ignorant groom -- had not authored the plays attributed to him
Delia Bacon moved to Stratford, hoping to open Shakespeare's tomb and finding Francis Bacon's manuscripts there; failed
Melville visited Hawthorne; Melville on his way to the Holy Land
Pierce loses nomination for re-election; Hawthorne's political life was over
Buchanan new nominee; wins
Hawthorne did, in the end, praise Delia Bacon

Chapter 22: Question of Travel
the Grand Tour begins, I guess
before leaving Liverpool, a month in London
then Paris
then Rome: a 10-room "apartment" in the Palazzo Laranzani at 37, Via Porta Pincia; winter
"Rome baffled Hawthorne"
by spring, ready for Florence 
end of chapter: set sights on Rome, again

Chapter 23: Things to See and Suffer
Una "crashes"; "galloping consumption"; Una survives (for now)
summer, 1859, back on British soil
for the summer, the Hawthornes settled in Redcar, Yorkshire, a fishing village turned seaside resort
The Marble Faun; it is Hawthorne's last completed novel; the novel was somewhat of a disappointment for his readers; vague ending

Chapter 24: Between Two Countries

Settles in Concord; already pining for England, summer of 1860; living at Wayside in Concord
family discord of issue of slavery; for or against it, then another issue, going to war over slavery
1857: Dred Scott, a Missouri slave, Supreme Court stunning decision -- blacks were nothing but slavery
Sophia: unremitting in her racism
Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln debates
Hawthorne: also a racist; favored slavery
the Brown (age 56) massacre in Lawrence, Kansas -- Brown took four sons and two other men, territory of Kansas, arrived in Osawatomie where proslavery forces had sacked the town; rode out to Pottawatomie County, dragged five settlers from their cabins and hacked them to death; midnight massacre; Boston was not aware of it at first
Brown goes east; raises money in Boston; in May, 1859, spoke at Concord Town Hall;
October 16, 1859, Harpers Ferry, VA; Brown and 19 others, including several of his sons seized ten slaves and their owner, hoping to spark a slave insurrection; stormed the federal armory; rather than strike and flee, Brown and his men stayed at the arsenal for 36 hours; strategic blunder; Brevet Colonel Robert E. Lee and a squadron of 12 marines offered Brown a chance to surrender; 17 people died; the country convulsed; Brown tried, found guilty, hung to death
new periodical: Atlantic Monthly; antislavery, anti-Pierce bias; capitalized more on literary than the political scene; canvassed as early contributors: Dr Holmes, Emerson, the historian John Lothrop Motely, Whipple, and Stowe, and Hawthorne; in England: Rossetti, Ruskin, and Mrs Gaskell
Hawthorne declined the invitation (Atlantic Monthly)
Una, ill, surviving; attends Bronson Alcott's series of "Conversations" at Mr Sanborn's
Hawthorne becoming in a recluse in his tower at the top of his house (Wayside)
Bronson Alcott mentioned he never saw Hawthorne
Hawthorne eventually re-worked his journals from England and published in the October 1860 Atlantic
Abraham Lincoln elected with less than 40% of the popular vote; did not carry one southern state; one by one, the southern states began to secede
Hawthorne loved his country, he hated it, wanted to flee, but to where would he flee?
Hawthorne worn out from four years in Liverpool, just wanted to write
Saturday, April 13, 1861: Sophia shouted that Fort Sumter and the South had fired on each other; Hawthorne put away his manuscript

Chapter 25: The Smell of Gunpower

Hawthorne credited James T Fields with helping him find an audience; thanked his friend in 1861; Hawthorne now 57 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Severn Clues To The Origin Of Life, A. G. Cairns-Smith

c. 1985

Preface: Glasgow, Spring, 1984

Chapter 1: Inquest

Chapter 2: Messages, Messages

Chapter 3: Build Your Own E. coli

Chapter 4: The Inner Machinery

Chapter 5: A Garden Path?

Chapter 6: Look At The Signposts

Chapter 7: A Clue in a Chinese Box

Chapter 8: Missing Pieces

Chapter 9: The Trouble With Molecules

Chapter 10: Crystals

Chapter 11: The Clay-Making Machine

Chapter 12: Gene-1

Chapter 13: Evolving By Direct Action

Chapter 14: Takeover

Chapter 15: The Seven Clues

Appendix 1: Units for DNA and RNA

Appendix 2: The Kaolinite Layer



The origin of life is a Holmesian problem: if we understand how life could have started at all, then we should be able to work out, roughtly at least, how it did start.

Chapter 1: Inquest

Fundamental idea of biology: evolution. "Biology has become, quite simply, the study of the causes and efffects of evolution, and the question of the origin of life is, first, the question of the origin of evolution."

Life: a trace of 'magic' can be held unto. "There is a temptation, in any case, to suppose that if the origin of life was not actually supernatural it was a statistical leap across a great divide."

"Natural selection" is only one component of the mechanism of evolution."

"Nevertheless, natural selection has been the key component, the sine qua non of evolution."

"Life is a product of evolution."

"We must find things that can evolve but have not yet done so."

Organism: another word that can be placed in the context of evolution: organisms are participants in evolution. For our purposes, organisms are prerequisites for evolution.

"Those first evolvable things that we have jut been talking about would not yet have been 'living' -- but they would still have been organisms. 

[A definition of "a living organism": something capable of reproducing and evolving by natural selection.]

The gap between the non-living molecules and the simplest bacterium was once thought (mid-1950's) to be very narrow. Cairns-Smith says the gap is now known to be "enormous."

Three Prime Facts
  • First fact:  there is life on earth
  • Fact two: all known living things are at root, the same
  • Fact three: all known living things are very complicated
Complexity seems to be necessary to the whole way in which organisms work. 

Life may in fact have had a supernatural beginning, but to come to that conclusion, all non-supernatural possibilities must be eliminated.

Chapter 2: Messages, Messages

Messages are what is passed on from generation to generation, not products.

I have trouble following this summary statement:

"If life really did arise on Earth "through natural causes" then  is must be that:
  • either there does not, after all, have to be long-term hereditary memory for evolution,
  • or organisms do not, after all, have to be particularly complex.

Chapter 3: Build Your Own E. coli