The mountain that I saw every day and took for granted

The mountain that I saw every day and took for granted October 17, 2018

 

Atop Mt. Wilson
This dome atop Mount Wilson houses the telescope used by Edwin Hubble when he discovered the general expansion of the universe.  (NASA public domain photograph)

 

Growing up in San Gabriel, California, I saw Mount Wilson — a peak in the San Gabriel Mountains — on most days.  It was the dominant feature of the local horizon, as well as my reliable indicator of north.  Its most obvious and striking features were the television and radio antennas, but it was also easy (when we were in the right location and when the smog wasn’t too bad!) to see at least some of its astronomical observatories.

 

Mount Wilson's array
Along the ridge of Mount Wilson (Wikimedia Commons)

 

I simply didn’t appreciate what I was looking at.

 

To me, when I was quite small, Mount Wilson represented an occasional opportunity to escape classes and go on a school field trip.  Now I understand more fully what a remarkable place it was and is.

 

Einstein, Hubble, and others atop Mount Wilson
Left to right: Albert Einstein, Edwin Hubble, Walther Mayer, Walter S. Adams, Arthur S. King, and William W. Campbell pose in front of the 100-inch telescope dome at Mount Wilson Observatory on 29 January 1931 (The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens)

 

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News out of Provo:

 

“Brigham Young University: A national center for UAV research: BYU a major contributor to the ‘drone revolution'”

 

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Interesting:

 

“Pompeii: Vesuvius eruption may have been later than thought”

 

This is one thing in ancient history and archaeology that I think most people imagined we had nailed down, with no serious controversy or doubt about it.  It turns out that there has been dispute on the matter for some time, and this new discovery certainly feeds that.

 

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It’s amazing to think what might lie, undiscovered, right under our feet:

 

“Viking ship burial discovered in Norway just 50cm underground: Archaeologists detect 20-metre ship using motorised high-resolution ground-penetrating radar”

 

And this find is so shallow, in such a well-worked, prosperous, and politically stable area.  Think about places that are far less well-explored.

 

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Science is an extraordinarily productive collection of related methods to be applied, not a rigid dogma to be imposed and slavishly received:

 

“Many undergrad psych textbooks do a poor job of describing science and exploring psychology’s place in it”

 

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One of my recurrent themes here has been that, like every other academic or scholarly discipline and, for that matter, like every other human enterprise altogether, science is done by people.  A few folks have decided to view that as an attack on science itself, which it emphatically isn’t.  (It plainly suits their ideological or personal agendas to do so.)  But, in any case, here’s an essay that, despite some biases and some assumptions that I don’t share, takes a position on the humanity of scientists that isn’t altogether different from my own.  Minor alert:  At one or two points, including the title, Dr. Burnett’s language is a bit colorful by Latter-day Saint sacrament meeting standards, which (of course) isn’t especially difficult to achieve:

 

“When Do Scientists Start Believing Their Own Bulls**t?  If prominent scientists are supposed to be superior intellects, why do they so often start spouting utter bilge, sometimes in self-destructive ways?

 

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Here’s yet another movie that I’m going to have to see:

 

“Doing Right by Neil Armstrong: The makers of First Man took many great leaps to create an authentic portrait of the publicity-averse astronaut.”

 

 

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