Things that happen to a Book Nerd

Being the Designated Book Nerd in your family or social circle is an important job, Rebecca Joines Schinsky reports on Book Riot, and it brings with it a certain set of expected experiences.

You can find in any conversation an opportunity to say, “Oh, I read a book about that!”

Not tonight, I'm reading
You don’t like to admit it, but you’ve actually said, “Not tonight, I want to finish my book.”

The book nerd

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How NASA might build its first warp drive

Physicist Harold White stunned the aeronautics world when he announced that he and his team at NASA had begun work on the development of a faster-than-light warp drive, George Dvorsky reports on io9.

Vulcan spaceship
Vulcan command ship features a warp engine similar to an Alcubierre Drive. Image courtesy CBS.

His proposed design, an ingenious re-imagining of an Alcubierre Drive, may eventually result in an engine that can transport a spacecraft to the nearest star in a matter of weeks — and all without violating Einstein’s law of relativity.

The idea came to White while he was considering a rather remarkable equation formulated by physicist Miguel Alcubierre. In his 1994 paper titled, “The Warp Drive: Hyper-Fast Travel Within General Relativity,” Alcubierre suggested a mechanism by which space-time could be “warped” both in front of and behind a spacecraft.

Warp ship

White speculates that such a drive could result in “speeds” that could take a spacecraft to Alpha Centauri in a mere two weeks — even though the system is 4.3 light-years away.

Warp 9, Engage

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What International Air Travel Was Like in the 1930s

Equal parts harrowing adventure and indulgent luxury, taking an international flight in the 1930s was quite an experience, Matt Novak reports in Paleofuture. But it was an experience that people who could afford it signed up for in droves.

Flying in style
circa 1935:  Waiter service aboard Imperial Airways ‘Scylla’ during its flight from London to Paris.  (Photo by J. B. Collingham/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Nearly 50,000 people would fly Imperial Airways from 1930 until 1939. But these passengers paid incredibly high prices to hop around the world. The longest flights could span over 12,000 miles and cost as much as $20,000 when adjusted for inflation.

A flight from London to Brisbane, Australia, the longest route available in 1938, took 11 days and included over two dozen scheduled stops.

Flying in style

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A Centenarian’s Advice to Young Women: Figure Out What You Want

Marion Cannon Schlesinger talks about feminism, privilege, Julia Child, and the Kennedy era, in a conversation with Heidi Legg reported in The Atlantic.

M Cannon
Marian Cannon Schlesinger at her home in Cambridge (Susan Lapides)

“Just go ahead and do your thing no matter what,” says Marian Cannon Schlesinger to today’s young women. At 101 years of age, she is still painting, writing, watching Rachel Maddow, and reading two newspapers a day.

Just do your thing

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Frankenstein’ Manuscript Comes Alive in Online Shelley Archive

Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” famously conceived during a waking dream in the stormy summer of 1816, has inspired countless plays, movies, comic books, even iPhone apps.

Mary ShelleyMatt Cardy/Getty Images A portrait of Mary Shelley from the collection of Oxford’s Bodleian Library.

And now, the original manuscript is also the centerpiece of the first phase of the online Shelley-Godwin Archive, an ambitious digital project, Jennifer Schuessler reports in NYT’s Arts Beat.

The manuscript is itself a sort of patched-together monster. It survives mainly in two notebooks written by Mary, with editorial changes and comments made in Percy’s hand. On the site, users can hit a button to view only those words written by Mary or Percy. They can also view the surviving portions of the fair copy, written mostly in Mary’s hand, which was circulated to publishers.

Monster manuscript

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Quote of the Day

The vows of love-passion are like confessions obtained under torture. Erotic love is a madness. . . a state of mental imbalance.” ~ Muriel Spark
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Alma Alexander

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