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A public conversation about our worlds.

  • Monday: Morgan J. Locke
  • Tuesday: Madeleine E. Robins
  • Wednesday: Maureen F. McHugh
  • Thursday: Bradley Denton
  • Friday: Steven Gould
  • Saturday: Caroline Spector
  • Sunday: Rory Harper

Brain Activity



“To teach superstitions as truth is a most terrible thing.”

March 24th, 2010 by Steven Gould

Yet even she fell a victim to the political jealousy which at that time prevailed. For as she had frequent interviews with Orestes, it was calumniously reported among the Christian populace, that it was she who prevented Orestes from being reconciled to the bishop. Some of them therefore, hurried away by a fierce and bigoted zeal, whose ringleader was a reader named Peter, waylaid her returning home, and dragging her from her carriage, they took her to the church called Caesareum, where they completely stripped her, and then murdered her by scraping her skin off with tiles and bits of shell. After tearing her body in pieces, they took her mangled limbs to a place called Cinaron, and there burnt them.

Socrates Scholasticus 5th century AD

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it’s not easy being a woman in the sciences.

Hypatia, born somewhere between 350 and 370 AD, died March 415 (see above) was a Greek scholar from Alexandria in Egypt. Considered the first notable woman in mathematics, she also taught philosophy and astronomy. She was killed by a Christian mob who falsely blamed her for local religious turmoil.

Notable quotes:

“Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all.”

“Life is an unfoldment, and the further we travel the more truth we can comprehend. To understand the things that are at our door is the best preparation for under standing those that lie beyond.”

“To teach superstitions as truth is a most terrible thing.”

Happy Ada Lovelace day. Large chunks of above from the Wikipedia article on Hypatia.

Posted in Daily Life | 5 Comments »

What I did on my vacation…

March 19th, 2010 by Caroline Spector
Okay, so it’s been a while since I posted anything here at EoB.

I have many excuses — most of them are pretty good.  My favorite is that we spent the last year remodeling most of the house — including the kitchen.  This is a special kind of hell.  I know child birth is supposed to be tough, but at least it ends in a relatively short period of time. And my ob-gyn has never looked me in the eye and promised me my exam would be over in a certain amount of time only to have it drag on for months.

However, I did learn a few things during the remodeling process.

First, contractors are delicate flowers. Really. Oh, sure, they’re sweaty, cranky, and prone to never showing up on time. But like the Wicked Witch of the West, they will melt if it rains. (I have never seen a contactor in the rain.  So that whole Wicked Witch thing is wild speculation, but, you know, it would explain a lot.)

Me (on the phone): “Uhm, hey, it’s Caroline.  It’s eleven and you guys said you’d be here by nine.  I hate to be a bother, but could you give me a call and let me know when you’re going to be here?”

Me (on the phone): “Yeah. It’s Caroline. Again. It’s noon and y’all still aren’t here. I kinda need to run some errands. Could you please call and let me know when y’all will be here?”

Me (on the phone): “It’s Caroline. Seriously.  What the hell? It’s two o’clock and no one is here. And I haven’t had a call. Jesus jumped-up Christ on a moped, how difficult is it to pick up the fricking phone and let me know that you’re not even going to bother to come. Fuck me!”

Me (answering the phone): “Yeah, what? My language?  Seriously? Do you have any idea how much they swear when they’re here? I made them cry? Oh. My. God. You have got to be kidding. Uh huh. Uh huh. But it wasn’t even raining, for fuck’s sake. Uh huh. Uh huh. Yeah. Fine. But I’m not sending them roses. Fine, daisies. No, I’m not going to send them candy. Well, sure I’d like the sink to get put in.  It’s been sitting in the guest bedroom for four months. Uh huh. So, nougat or cream filled?”

Secondly, things will happen if you leave the house. And the corollary: Carpenters are never happier than when they’re destroying someone else’s work.

In order to save some money (oh, the hysterical laughter that’s bubbling up in my throat even now), I decided to keep kitchen’s center island.  We were going to retro fit the cabinets.

I get home after going to the grocery store. The center island is gone.  There are two sad-looking pipes poking out of the floor.

Did I mention the island was gone? This was not an insubstantial item. It was ten freaking feet long, four and a half feet wide. Gone. Vanished. Poof!  It’s like an episode of LOST.  The Others have done something terrible and now they want me to believe that they’re the good guys.

Me: “The island is gone. Vanished. Poof!”

John (my carpenter, looking manically cheerful): “We had to!  We discovered the plumbing had been leaking into the base of the cabinet.  The wood had rotted. Hee hee!”

Me: But, but… the island is gone! Vanished! Poof!

John: We had to.

Me: “What time is it?  It’s cocktail hour somewhere. Wanna shot?  I think I need a shot. We all need shots. There’s tequila somewhere on the back porch. I’m going to find it.” 

Thirdly, painters are evil. Really, really evil.

Fourth, you can’t work in a house that’s being remodeled. And you can’t leave to work somewhere else because there are a million questions You Must Answer Now. And these are questions you have never once in your life thought about. Questions like: “How do you want the random tiles in the backsplash arranged?” and “Where do you want these outlets put?”

And my favorite part about the remodel: Living without floors.  Well, we had floors, but all the carpeting and old tile had been pulled out.  Which would have been fine, except that the floor guys, thoughtful fellows that they were, laid a skim coat down to help the new flooring material adhere better.  Then they wisely decided to wait on putting in the new floors.

The problem? A skim coat is mud. You have a mud flat. In. Your. House. I now know why pioneer women went batshit crazy. (Okay, aside from the crushing boredom, loneliness and the backbreaking work.)  They lived in what amounted to dry mud flats.  

There’s a lot of all kinds of crap that gets stirred up during construction, but I swear that skim coat was the worst of it.  I’m getting the vapors just thinking about it.

All my friends have instructions to smack me if I ever start talking about remodeling again because, like childbirth, you forget the pain.

Like I said, I’ve had my reasons…  

*Oh, and the damn island is back.  One day it just reappeared. Voila!

Mysterious Island

Posted in Daily Life | 10 Comments »

Standing Around the Locker Room Comparing Sizes

March 14th, 2010 by Steven Gould

Gardner Dozois linked to this on a list we’re both on.  It starts with our moon and then takes progressively bigger objects and sizes them against the previous, ending with the largest known star, VY Canis Majoris, a Red Hypergiant.

(Well worth clicking through to YouTube and Watching it in HD.)

VY Canis Majoris has a diameter of 2,800,000,000 kilometers.  I did some very minor math: if it were in our solar system (instead of our own sun) it’s edge would extend out to the orbit of Saturn.

There are lots of videos out there comparing sizes, but this is the best one I’ve seen so far.  If you’ve got a better link, do put it in the comments.  No rickrolling.  No porn.

(I take it back–if you want to rickroll me, go right ahead.)

Posted in Daily Life | 3 Comments »

Rory and I have Stories Coming Out. Bring Brains.

March 8th, 2010 by Steven Gould

From the Preliminary Cover copy:

Two years ago, readers eagerly devoured The Living Dead. Publishers Weekly named it one of the Best Books of the Year, and Barnes & Noble.com called it “The best zombie fiction collection ever.” Now acclaimed editor John Joseph Adams is back for another bite at the apple — the Adam’s apple, that is — with 43 more of the best, most chilling, most thrilling zombie stories anywhere, including virtuoso performances by zombie fiction legends Max Brooks (World War Z, The Zombie Survival Guide), Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead), and David Wellington (Monster Island).

Read More »

Posted in Daily Life | 9 Comments »

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