Innumerable as the Starrs of Night,
Or Starrs of Morning,
Dew-drops, which the Sun
on every leaf and every flouer
Beauty is truth, truth beauty,
— that is all
Ye know on earth, and all
ye need to know.
E = M
Energy is eternal delight.
Impearls: 2004-02-08 Archive
Fourth NEAR Eros orbital anniversary
Four years ago today — appropriately on Valentine's Day of the year 2000 — the NEAR-Shoemaker (NEAR for Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous) spacecraft slid into orbit about the asteroid 433 Eros.
The remarkable 780-frame sequence of photographs shown at left, forming a movie of Eros' stunning end-over-end rotation, was shot on 2000-02-12 (shortly before orbital insertion) at the rate of one frame every 26 seconds.
Following, and indeed preceding, arrival in Eros orbit, NEAR-Shoemaker gave the spinning mountain terrific camera coverage, providing us with close-up views of a near-Earth approaching asteroid such as we'd never seen before.
After a year of this, on 2001-02-12, the spacecraft — though never designed for any sort of landing — was commanded to settle down onto the surface of the asteroid Eros, continuing in radio contact with Earth all the while.
It sits there to this day.
Kudos to the NEAR team!
2004-02-24 02:00 UT:
Asteroid 433 Eros forms a 34 × 11 × 11 km (21 × 7 × 7 mile) rough cylinder, incorporating a volume of 2,503 km3 and area of 1,106 km2.
This surface area is a little larger than, say, the city of Moscow, the Dead Sea, Tahiti, or King Island in Australia, a bit smaller than Lake Champlain, Okinawa, Impearls' own Santa Cruz County in California, or the city (not county) of Los Angeles.
The rotation period (day) of Eros is 5.27 hours.
The range of surface-normal gravitational accelerations is 2.1 to 5.5 mm/s2, while the range of escape speeds is 3.1 to 17.2 m/s.
1 Follow this link or the one on the image above to a page with larger-scale versions of the animation. Don't miss this page of all the NEAR Eros animations, while the main NEAR page can be found here. The NEAR site's Image of the Day Archive is a particularly nice browse.
2 D. K. Yeomans, P. G. Antreasian, J.-P. Barriot, S. R. Chesley, D. W. Dunham, R. W. Farquhar, J. D. Giorgini, C. E. Helfrich, A. S. Konopliv, J. V. McAdams, J. K. Miller, W. M. Owen Jr., D. J. Scheeres, P. C. Thomas, J. Veverka, and B. G. Williams, “Radio Science Results During the NEAR-Shoemaker Spacecraft Rendezvous with Eros,” Science, Vol. 289, No. 5487 (Issue 2000-09-22), pp. 2085-2088. Requires subscription or pay-per-view.
Impearls: 2004-02-08 Archive
In praise of the C-word – Foreword
There's been an altercation — a disturbance — in the fabric of the Blogosphere, whose ripplies have bounced round the tub a few times, and in further reflecting off Impearls, transformed into the form herein, “In praise of the C-Word!” featuring Geoffrey Chaucer's Wife of Bath.
I hesitate to even mention the original problem, so divergent is it from the path we're taking here, but in its first context one party took severe exception (to the extent of publicly and dramatically cutting off contact with another, a woman) over her one-time use, not directed at any specific individual, of the technical term feminazi cunt.
I shan't address the issue raised, other than express my inclination to say, “Girls, girls!” (oops, not politically correct, substitute) “Ladies, ladies! Can't you play nicely?”
I'll also not comment as to applicability of the former portion of this remarkable turn of phrase — leaving that to the girls ladies — but (now, after having offended nearly everyone) I will jump in to debate the etymological aptness of the use, at least in some contexts (appropriately in time for Valentine's Day!), of the fine old English language word “cunt” (sometimes euphemized, in modern polite company, as the c-word). How's that for a variant consequence of the original quaver in the fabric of the Blogosphere?
The c-word, it turns out (which I'll use to spare further the sensitive eared), is of venerable ancestry, dating back well into the Middle Ages, and ultimately deriving probably from an old Germanic root meaning, among other things, “a hollow space or place, an enclosing object….” Modern English words as various as cottage, codpiece, cobweb, coop, cog, cock, chicken, cudgel, kobold, and even the keel of a boat all apparently derive from this same old root. 1
Beyond illustrating this etymological history, however, I'll let Geoffrey Chaucer's character in The Canterbury Tales “The Wife of Bath” continue for me, in her own eloquent, inimitable fashion.
Happy Valentine's Day!
UPDATE: 2004-02-24 13:40 UT: Discussion continues after the quotation. Jump to Afterword.
UPDATE: 2004-03-11 16:40 UT: A follow-up article In Praise of the C-word II has been posted.
Excerpt from “The Wife of Bath's Prologue” in The Canterbury Tales
Following is an excerpt from “The Wife of Bath's Prologue” in Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales: 2
In praise of the C-word – Afterword
The Wife of Bath was quite a character. There's much more terrific stuff in her Prologue: highly recommended. (I like the edition and translation of the Tales used in Britannica's Great Books of the Western World. I would note that other translations from Middle English I've seen do not translate the Middle English word queynte as its modern four-letter cognate that we've been discussing, instead substituting euphemisms such as “pudendum.”)
The question might be raised by some that 1) The Canterbury Tales were, after all, written by a man — Geoffrey Chaucer — and 2) how can a man have or should have anything at all to say about a woman's [insert c-word]?
I would hope that stating the issue thus would almost answer superficial aspects of the question by itself. The c-word is unlike the n-word, say, or any ethnic word or slur sometimes used in opprobrium, in that it refers to an item of female sexual anatomy which is shared by both women and men — i.e., women's (male) lovers. (Yes, it's also shared by women's women lovers, if any, but then it's only women!) Just as blacks famously will use the (otherwise derogatory) n-word with each other — frequently affectionately, so it's been reported — so (I happen to know) male and female lovers oftentimes use the c-word in erotic banter and plain sexual discussions between themselves. As a practical matter, men have (whether women like it or not — and I'd hope, generally, they like it) a great deal to say (and do) with regard to women's c-words! Certainly, a writer can write about it.
Beyond issues of superficial nomenclature, there's the underlying question of truth in the Wife of Bath's presentation. The Canterbury Tales, of course, is a work of fiction, as well as being by a man. Nevertheless, there is such a thing as truth in art — even art, involving women characters, composed by men. In this case, it is one woman's (and her five husbands') truth — coming at us from another age to boot — but still, I would judge, there is truth to read here about people. Truth in a sense similar to what Jacob Bronowski was talking about in his slim little book The Common Sense of Science: 3
Thus, in my view, the Wife of Bath.
In praise of the C-word – Updates, Acknowledgments, References and Links
UPDATE: 2004-02-24 13:40 UT: Discussion also precedes the quotation above. Jump to Foreword.
UPDATE: 2004-03-11 16:40 UT: A follow-up article “In praise of the C-word II” has been posted.
UPDATE: 2004-04-19 14:00 UT: Geitner Simmons in his terrific Regions of Mind blog has linked to the C-word series here, commenting: “Beautiful work, as usual, by Michael McNeil of Impearls, this time offering translations of ‘The Wife of Bath's Tale’ in middle English as well as modern English. Great graphics, too. He also offers stimulating analysis of the text.”
2005-07-22 20:20 UT:
Updated acknowledgment to the late Prof. Jane Zatta's Chaucer page which is now hosted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Gratitude is due Harvard and its production of
The Canterbury Tales
for the image of Chaucer's Wife of Bath, as excerpted from the Ellesmere Manuscript.
Thanks too to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for the late Prof. Jane Zatta's
page, including the beautiful graphic of “Geoffrey Chaucer reading from Troilus and Criseyde.”
References and Links
1 “ku-”, Appendix: Indo-European Roots, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, edited by William Morris, 1969, American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc., and Houghton Mifflin Company, New York; p. 1524.
Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340-1400), excerpt from “The Wife of Bath's Prologue,” The Canterbury Tales, Modern English version translated by J. U. Nicolson, Middle English version edited by W. W. Skeat, Volume 22: Troilus and Cressida and The Canterbury Tales, Great Books of the Western World, 1952, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., Chicago and London;
Additional links: Various versions of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales are available online. A solely Middle English edition can be found as part of the Middle English Collection at the University of Virginia's Electronic Text Center. Librarius has a Middle English edition of the Tales, including a nice hypertext Middle English glossary. Harvard has an online edition of The Canterbury Tales with a (different than herein) dual-language presentation of the “Wife of Bath's Prologue” as part of its Geoffrey Chaucer page. Jane Zatta's Chaucer page by the late Prof. Jane Zatta at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill provides good information as well as many links, including one to “The Chaucer MetaPage” (which Prof. Zatta's Chaucer page calls “an essential link to a hub of Chaucer pages”). Then there's the British Library, where Caxton's 1476 and 1483 printed editions of The Canterbury Tales may be viewed on their original pages. Finally, GeoffreyChaucer.org, presents links to other important Chaucer resources.
J. Bronowski, The Common Sense of Science, 1963, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.;
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