Philip Roth, American Pastoral

the eternal dilemma; wanting to be with people and in isolation at the same time

"When I enter a cafe, the first thing I perceive are implements. Not things, not raw matter, but utensils: tables, seats, mirrors, glasses and saucers… Taken as a whole, they belong to an obvious order. The meaning of this ordering is an end — an end that is myself, or rather, the man in me, the consumer that I am. Such is the surface appearance of the human world… Now let us describe the cafe topsyturvy.

"…Here, for example, is a door. It is there before us, with its hinges, latch and lock. It is carefully bolted, as if protecting some treasure. I manage, after several attempts, to procure a key; I open it, only to find that behind it is a wall. I sit down and order a cup of coffee. The waiter makes me repeat the order three times and repeats it himself to avoid any possibility of error. He dashes off and repeats my order to a second waiter, who notes it down in a little book and transmits it to a third waiter. Finally, a fourth waiter comes back and, putting an inkwell on my table, says, ‘There you are.’ ‘But,’ I say, ‘I ordered a cup of coffee.’ ‘That’s right,’ he says, as he walks off.

"If the reader, while reading a story of this kind, thinks that the waiters are playing a joke or that they are involved in some collective psychosis, then we have lost the game. But if we have been able to give him the impression that we are talking about a world in which these absurd manifestations appear as normal behaviour, then he will find himself plunged all at once into the heart of the fantastic." — Jean-Paul Sartre

NASA: New "impossible" engine works, could change space travel forever



By Jesus Diaz for Gizmodo:

Until yesterday, every physicist was laughing at this engine and its inventor, Roger Shawyer. It’s called the EmDrive and everyone said it was impossible because it goes against classical mechanics. But the fact is that the quantum vacuum plasma…

"The beauty of biological systems is that they are elegantly simple—and yet, in large numbers, accomplish the seemingly impossible."

Radhika Nagpal, the Fred Kavli Professor of Computer Science at Harvard SEAS. Her research group just unveiled the first self-organizing thousand-robot swarm. (via harvardseas)

I want some drugs

It’s been waayy too long

Take home test

1. Combine general relativity and quantum mechanics

2. Resolve the problems in the foundations of quantum mechanics, either by making sense of the theory as it stands or by inventing a new theory that does make sense.

3. Determine whether or not the various particles and forces can be unified in a theory that explains them all as manifestations of a single, fundamental entity.

4. Explain how the values of free constants in the standard model of particle physics are chosen in nature.

5. Explain dark matter and dark energy. Or, if they don’t exist, determine how and why gravity is modified on large scales. More generally, explain why the constants of the standard model of cosmology, including the dark energy, have the values they do.


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