nerd out

I don’t know about anyone else, but I can’t stop looking at the images of the Andromeda Galaxy.

Please watch this video.

Holy Moly.

The image from the Hubble telescope was released earlier this month, and it’s awe inspiring.  Andromeda is our sister galaxy about 2 million light-years away, but it is far larger than the Milky Way.  In the pictures you can see what look like brighter stars in the galaxy, but those are actually globular clusters, a tightly-bound collection of tens or hundreds of thousands of stars packed into a ball. The Milky Way has more than 150 such globulars orbiting it; Andromeda has more than 500.

All this is enough to blow your mind, but consider now that the universe contains somewhere between 100 and 200 BILLION galaxies.  Sorry for the brain explosion.

If this threw you into a little existential mood to ponder our place in the universe, I like Edward O. Wilson’s metaphor that, “Earth relates to the universe as the second segment of the left antenna of an aphid sitting on a flower petal in a garden in Teaneck, N.J., for a few hours this afternoon.”


In other nerdy news…

A few years ago, I tried to read 50 books in a year.  I fell short at 43, but enjoyed the challenge.  Last year, my reading total was well short at 14.  Here’s the list in no particular order:


The Satanic Verses

The Broken Shore

*The Meaning of Human Existence

Me Talk Pretty One Day

The Goldfinch

The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth

Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

*Thank You for Your Service

The Game of Thrones series (actually called A Song of Ice and Fire)

– A Game of Thrones

– A Clash of Kings

– A Storm of Swords

– A Feast for Crows

– A Dance with Dragons

* personal favorite 


This year, I’m hoping to increase the reading load a bit, so I’m calling for recommendations.

Here’s what I’ve read so far:


Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End

The Narrow Road to the Deep North

Don Quixote (In Progress)

I’m going to try to read some more education related books this year, but I will take suggestions from any genre.  Bring ’em on.



7 thoughts on “nerd out

  1. I love book challenges:
    The Thing Around Your Neck (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)
    Small Wonder (Barbara Kingsolver)
    Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Jonathan Safran Foer)
    Neither Wolf Nor Dog: On Forgotten Roads with an Indian Elder (Kent Nerburn)
    The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August (Claire North)
    We Need to Talk About Kevin (Lionel Shriver)

    Those were some of my favorites from 2014. And the factoid about the marble is crazy! (Hugs)

  2. Mind officially struggling to comprehend – cannot grasp the vastness of space – feeling infinitesimal and pathetically human. The Wilson quote sums it up nicely. And oh so jealous of your reading time 🙂

  3. The Wild Truth, preceded by Into the Wild if you haven’t read it already.
    Also, Wild is pretty good.
    What’s with “wild” in so many titles lately? Kind of wild.

    Here’s a mind blowing factoid: If Earth was compressed to the density of the center of a black hole it would be the size of a marble. Say what?

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