Janna Levin

The Animated Story of How Eddington’s Historic Eclipse Expedition Confirmed Relativity, Catapulted Einstein into Celebrity, and United Humanity – Brain Pickings – Self Improvement Article

On May 29, 1919, the young English astronomer Arthur Eddington (December 28, 1882–November 22, 1944) catapulted Albert Einstein into celebrity by proving the most significant scientific model of the universe since Newtonian gravity: the general theory of relativity, completed four years earlier. For a quarter millennium, Newton’s conception of space as static and absolute had gone unquestioned. According to his instantaneous-action-at-a-distance theory, gravity is a force that, like magnetism, acts through space but not on space, and light travels only…

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Astrophysicist Janna Levin Reads “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer” by Walt Whitman – Brain Pickings – Personal Development Article

“To soothe and spiritualize, and, as far as may be, solve the mysteries of death and genius, consider them under the stars at midnight,” Walt Whitman (May 31, 1819–March 26, 1892) wrote in his daybook upon receiving word of another great poet’s death. “Is there not something about the moon, some relation or reminder, which no poem or literature has yet caught?” he wondered as he approached the end of his own life. As a young man, Whitman had written…

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Astrophysicist Janna Levin Reads W.H. Auden’s Sublime Ode to Our Unrequited Love for the Universe – Brain Pickings – Self Improvement Article

I wrote Figuring (public library) to explore the interplay between chance and choice, the human search for meaning in an unfeeling universe governed by equal parts precision and randomness, the bittersweet beauty of asymmetrical and half-requited loves, and our restless impulse to uncover the deepest truths of nature, even at the price of our convenient existential delusions of self-importance. (More about the book here.) These are vast, thickly interwoven themes, difficult to distill in a single sentiment, so I chose…

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