Day: March 18, 2014

Exploring literature’s most sinister syllable

‘Sherlock Holmes’s mortal nemesis was Professor Moriarty.

Harry Potter’s nemesis was Voldemort.

Doctor Who had a nemesis named Morbius. So did Spider-Man. Morbius was also the name of the antagonist in The Forbidden Planet.

Frodo Baggins went through the mines of Moria to get to Mordor, where he met Sauron, who, as great a villain as he was, started out as the lieutenant of Morgoth, the original and darkest villain in the world of Tolkien’s Middle Earth.

H.G. Wells sent his time traveller into the future to encounter a cave-dwelling evil race called the Morlocks. He also created an evil genius called Dr. Moreau.

King Arthur was betrayed by Mordred.

The really scuzzy city in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series is Morpork.

So what’s the deal with “mor”? Is there something to the syllable that suits it for melancholy, darkness, and villainy?’ (The Week).

4 Miles Over Britain Pilot Is Sucked Out; Crew Holds On Tight

English: Winchester Cathedral A plane - no dou...

‘The pilot of a passenger plane was partly sucked out of the cabin window onto the nose cone of the jet today after its windshield blew out at 23,000 feet. But he was saved by crew members who clung to his ankles for 15 minutes until the co-pilot landed the plane safely in southern England.

Several of the aircraft’s 81 passengers said they watched in horror as crew members frantically wrestled to pull Capt. Timothy Lancaster back into the cockpit. The plane went into a dive, but with half of Mr. Lancaster’s body hanging outside the co-pilot flew the aircraft to Southampton Airport, 70 miles southwest of London.’ (New York Times).

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The Toxins That Threaten Our Brains

‘Leading scientists recently identified a dozen chemicals as being responsible for widespread behavioral and cognitive problems. But the scope of the chemical dangers in our environment is likely even greater. Why children and the poor are most susceptible to neurotoxic exposure that may be costing the U.S. billions of dollars and immeasurable peace of mind.’ (The Atlantic).

Why the Big Bang Discovery Is Even More Important Than You Think

‘As you’ve probably heard, yesterday a team of scientists identified evidence of cosmic inflation right after the Big Bang, a finding which helps explain how the entire Universe originated. Amazing as that sounds, it’s way more important than you even imagine.

To truly grasp the significance, let’s start with what exactly it is that the Harvard team found. Forget analogies about ripples in ponds or whatever other over-simplified guff you’re read. Here’s what actually happened.’ (Gizmodo).

How Biotech Could Make Life in Prison a Living Hell

‘At the University of Oxford, a team of scholars led by the philosopher Rebecca Roache has begun thinking about the ways futuristic technologies might transform punishment. In January, I spoke with Roache and her colleagues Anders Sandberg and Hannah Maslen about emotional enhancement, ‘supercrimes’, and the ethics of eternal damnation. What follows is a condensed and edited transcript of our conversation…’ (Gizmodo).