Hallooooo from serranodebergerac!

Most Excellent and Admirable People of Point North!

I've been catching up on TaBA for a couple of months now, in addition to gobbling up other discussions and musings with the hunger of one story-starved.  I'm a latina girl from the American Southwest who has, through a series of international games of hop-scotch, found herself doing a PhD in lunar astrophysics in the Arctic city of Tromsø, Norway*.

Even though I'm someone who enjoys being on my own, my position as a perpetual peripatetic has left me a bit lonesome and squadless.  I operate in foreign languages and cultures so often that I start to feel homesick; not for any particular place, but for a group of people who share my passion for geeking out about stories and ideas.  I have been so touched and amazed by how supportive and profound everone is on these forums, and can't wait to sit in on my first live session!

I just spent a few minutes trying to untangle the big ball of thread that is Things About Myself, so maybe as the knots get worked out along the way, you'll learn some more bits.  For now, I think the most important things are: I'm a harpist, I love to write**, I do art to ease my troubled mind, and I really adore answering space questions.

Oh and once upon a time, I learned to broadsword fight while working as a chocolatier in Florence.  But that's a story for another day.

So honored to join you all!


~~~~~~~~
* via Italy, other bits of Europe, California, and New Zealand
** but have yet to work out a disciplined routine for doing so consistently

Comments

  • @serranodebergerac Welcome to the thunder dome! I am a total history dork and at some point I look forward to hearing all about the broadswords in Florence and also the chocolate!
  • Hello @serranodebergerac! Welcome. You said so many interesting things. Nonetheless, as a fellow academic (though not in science), I can't resist this:

    ... I really adore answering space questions.
    What odds do you give Brown and Batygin (The Astronomical Journal 151 [2016]: 22) that there exists a giant gas planet, their "Planet Nine," causing a tilt in the orbits of the eight other planets in our solar system?
  • Hello @serranodebergerac, what an amazing introduction! I love the harp, what kind of music do you play on it? I look forward to seeing you in the live chat!

  • Ahahaha @GaalDornick that's funny you mention this!  The simple answer I'll give to your question about what the odds are is: "low to nil."

    One of my advisors is Queen of the Kuiper Belt herself, Jane Luu, and I once asked her about this.  Without getting too into the politics, you may be aware of the tension that has existed since the discovery of the Kuiper Belt and the myriad dwarf planets beyond our solar system -- just think of how personally people still take the recategorization of Pluto as a dwarf planet!  The people involved with Planet Nine have something of a professional stake in their assertion.

    The wobble cited in this paper is small, and one that can be attributed to other factors (stuff during the formation of the solar system, a cluster of Kuiper belt objects... I'm sure many more options).  There's a lot of skepticism about Brown's choice to draw the conclusion that it is due to a giant, invisible planet, but I think the idea gets purchase in the popular media because it sounds so mysterious and somewhat subversive.  People do like the idea of finding things hiding in plain sight!

    For my part, I used to work at an observatory looking for exoplanets MUCH farther away, and so I'm also rather skeptical of a gas giant planet within our own solar system that hasn't been detected by any other means than a little disturbance in nearby orbits.  Of course, as with a lot of science, the possibility is there but the evidence is not clear enough for the given conclusion.

    I suppose in summary: it's possible, but the data is pretty insufficient, and drawing the conclusion from the data they give is a bit presumptuous.

    Phew, hope that was interesting!
  • @serranodebergerac Welcome to the thunder dome! I am a total history dork and at some point I look forward to hearing all about the broadswords in Florence and also the chocolate!
    @BeccaEller Thanks for the welcome!  I'm very excited at the possibility of sidling up to talk about history!  Lately I've been reading a lot about early anatomists.  As a scientist, it shouldn't come to anyone's surprise that I love Frankenstein and the historical goings-on that inspired Mary Shelley!
  • Hello @serranodebergerac, what an amazing introduction! I love the harp, what kind of music do you play on it? I look forward to seeing you in the live chat!

    Hello @FinaStarguard !  I started learning Celtic and traditional harp when I was around 11-12, working with some music thanatologists (these are performers who are hired by hospitals and hospice centers to play for people who are dying).  Celtic music will always have a safe spot in my heart.  In college, I went straight classical and still play with a local orchestra here, on the rare occasion that they need a harpist.  I studied French troubadours for a bit at university, and spent a couple months playing with an Early Music group in France.  ...but then, I also adore Joanna Newsom, and even did a harp arrangement of Nancy Sinatra just for fun!

    The things I play are all across the board, but I have a particular love of "forgotten" Medieval and Renaissance music.  I love to collect old songs in any and all foreign languages.  It makes me feel all the important ways that humans are the same throughout history. (It also makes me unbearable to sit with while watching historical dramas, because I just keep going I KNOW THIS SONG when the composer selects an actual historic piece for the score!)

    I do have a completely unprofessional(!) soundcloud where I upload music I record on my phone(!!), since with my travels, my time with a harp is tragically sparse... I'm actually saving up to buy myself a travel harp at the moment, and then maybe soon I can also graduate to an actual microphone!  I'm genuinely terrified of sharing it, but the site is entirely for fun, so if you just want to jam to some harp, here you go! (https://soundcloud.com/user-924385784)

    Also, the thought occurred to me -- why have I never written harp arrangements to Tolkien poems?? This will need to be remedied. :#

  • @serranodebergarec any anatomists in particular? I have a history podcast and I’m always excited to hear about new historical humans!
  • Ahahaha @GaalDornick that's funny you mention this!  The simple answer I'll give to your question about what the odds are is: "low to nil."

    One of my advisors is Queen of the Kuiper Belt herself, Jane Luu, and I once asked her about this.  Without getting too into the politics, you may be aware of the tension that has existed since the discovery of the Kuiper Belt and the myriad dwarf planets beyond our solar system -- just think of how personally people still take the recategorization of Pluto as a dwarf planet!  The people involved with Planet Nine have something of a professional stake in their assertion.

    The wobble cited in this paper is small, and one that can be attributed to other factors (stuff during the formation of the solar system, a cluster of Kuiper belt objects... I'm sure many more options).  There's a lot of skepticism about Brown's choice to draw the conclusion that it is due to a giant, invisible planet, but I think the idea gets purchase in the popular media because it sounds so mysterious and somewhat subversive.  People do like the idea of finding things hiding in plain sight!

    For my part, I used to work at an observatory looking for exoplanets MUCH farther away, and so I'm also rather skeptical of a gas giant planet within our own solar system that hasn't been detected by any other means than a little disturbance in nearby orbits.  Of course, as with a lot of science, the possibility is there but the evidence is not clear enough for the given conclusion.

    I suppose in summary: it's possible, but the data is pretty insufficient, and drawing the conclusion from the data they give is a bit presumptuous.

    Phew, hope that was interesting!

    @serranodebergerac Thank you, all this is relevant for some writing that I'm doing. It's a long story, but one small part of the writing relies on redefinitions of "planet": for Ptolemy, planets orbited the earth in circles; for Copernicus, planets orbited the sun in circles; for Kepler, planets orbited the sun in ellipses; (some stuff between); for the IAU of 2006, planets orbit the sun in (rough) ellipses, have sufficient mass to assume a hydrostatic equilibrium, and have cleared the neighborhood around their orbit (¡adios, Pluto!).

    A background part of the story is that, like you, I'm a peripatetic academic--or at least was until I got tenure--almost in the clever punning sense in which @FinaStarguard named her blog after herself ("Da Capo al Fine"). I don't teach or write on the Peripatetic, i.e., Aristotle, but I do on other philosophers. I also have a modest background in the history and philosophy of science. So I'm honored to have made your e-acquaintance.

    Finally, on harps! (you play beautifully, by the way), my favorite Elda, Finrod, awoke the first men whom he met by playing a "rude harp." That phrase always tickled me: an unintended pun.
  • @GaalDornick that's so fascinating!  I'm sure you also know that for much of human history, planets were actually just thought to be "wandering stars" -- thus the name planetes asteres in Greek, shortened to planetai ("wanderers").  We still colloquially call Venus the "evening star" or "morning star" because of this.  I'm not actually sure when people finally figured out they weren't stars -- but my money's on either the Arabs or during the Italian Renaissance.

    It's certainly the case that terminology is ever-changing in astronomy once new information comes to light, which is a good thing!  Just like how anything "fuzzy" in the night sky used to just be called a "nebula" (cloud).  This included actual nebulae, globular clusters, and even galaxies like Andromeda -- for a time, called the "Andromeda nebula"!  Can you imagine people getting up in arms about changing the name once the concept of a "galaxy" had been determined?

    I'm also honored to make your e-acquaintance!  My dad went to seminary as a Dominican monk, where he studied philosophy and theology, so I think I get a lot of my ravenous curiosity from him reading me philosophy when I was young.  I foresee many more philosophical discussion in the future!
  • @serranodebergarec any anatomists in particular? I have a history podcast and I’m always excited to hear about new historical humans!
    @BeccaEller I IMMEDIATELY went and subscribed to your podcast.  I'm so excited!

    My interest started from an idea I had for a short story about the early days of anatomy in Italy (very à la Mary Shelley), so I read up on Andreas Vesalius' De humani corporis fabrica ("On the fabric of the human body").  Italy was the first place in Europe where doctors were legally able to dissect human bodies, but it was still considered shady and ghoulish for many centuries.  This is what I find really fascinating -- how do people switch from the (deeply ingrained and understandable!) mindset that dissection is obscene and profane to the understanding that it is a benefit to humanity?  Or, in a nutshell, how does superstition get convinced by science?

    And then you get to Shelley, who was heavily influenced by the work of Luigi Galvani and his nephew Giovanni Aldini on the study of galvanism -- observation of the (startling!) effects of electricity on biological matter.

    At the moment I'm reading a wonderful book called The Butchering Art about Joseph Lister and the English Anatomy Act in the 19th century.  Medicine (and especially dissection) is so captivating at this time, because 1) spiritualism and interest in the occult was becoming HUGELY popular, and 2), industrialism was becoming a thing, so there were also (this is horrible, I'm so sorry) black-market "businesses" that would dig up fresh corpses and sometimes murder in order to provide cadavers for doctors.  These are the infamous "bodysnatchers" you've probably heard about!  They seriously give me the willies, but it all came from doctors who were desperate for a better understanding of the human body than what they had at the time -- an understanding which was INCREDIBLY flawed.

    The Anatomy Act began because a handful of higher-ups began writing "wills" that legally signed over their bodies to doctors after death, and so they set the precedent and created the means for doctors to do their studies in a non-shady way.  From this, we get our current system of things like donor cards, and the business of bodysnatchers has (as far as I know??? -shivers-) entirely evaporated.

    Oh boy SORRY FOR THE WORD-WALL, I got excited. :p
  • Please don’t be sorry @serranodebergerac !!! Gushing about super fun history stuff is basically my life! Yes, I know about body snatchers and CAN CONFIRM AWESOMENESS!!! The Victorians were a weird bunch, unwrapping mummies and stealing grave goods is rather gross in my humble opinion. I have very big feelings about messing with dead people... when you listen to the podcast you will see! Donating bodies to science is great and wonderful and how I will be spearing my time after death but stop messing with the buried people! It makes me cry!
  • edited March 7
    @serranodebergerac Indeed! Ironically our cosmic communication touches upon the most recent episode of TaBA. Eärendil is himself the morning star! @Alastair Elessar quoted Frodo's exclamation: ""Aiya Eärendil Elenion Ancalima!," or ""Hail Eärendil, brightest of stars!" (though Alastair misidentified the language as Sindarin; it's Quenya).

    I think that for most of history "star" (and its translations) meant something like heavenly body. The (relatively) fixed ones today we still call "stars," while the wanderers, as you pointed out, we call "planets" (and other things). When Le Verrier discovered Neptune in 1846, he called it a "star," though he absolutely knew that it was a planet. Also, as you probably know, that the ancients identified seven wandering stars (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn) is why there are seven days of the week, as still captured in many of their names in many languages.

    And on the Andromeda "galaxy" instead of "nebula," etymologically those are pretty close in connotation. The former means milk, which is as cloudy as any liquid can be.

    Right, etymology often gets the better of me. Happily, I suspect, you're not that different. No wonder we're both entranced by J.R.R.T.

    PS: Three cheers for donating our bodies to science, @BeccaEller. I've already signed up.
  • @GaalDornick Purely for funtastic musing...

    I'm struck suddenly by the image of Eärendil sailing his ship into the west -- perhaps a story connected by the Elves to the bright "star" sinking below the horizon in the evening.

    Although in the case that he is the morning star, he would actually "sail" upward from the east into the sky, much in the same way Venus "rose from the foamy depths" to the Greeks..... unless Middle-Earth rotates in the opposite direction to Earth.  Hmmmmmmm :D :p

    The thought that there could possibly be Middle-Earth astronomers definitely tickles my fancy.  The Phial of Galadriel was made of glass, so that means potential telescopes, right???  I smell a fanfic. :D
  • @serranodebergerac Yes!

    Tolkien does say, in one of his letters, that he wished that he'd paid more attention to actual geology when he crafted Middle-earth. I think that he likewise says that he wished that he'd paid more attention to actual astronomy. Also, Arda, Middle-earth's planet, did rotate in the opposite direction of the Earth but only on its first day of rotation. The sun rose in the West; it had to have, since the West is good, the East evil, for Tolkien. But the rotation changes thereafter--eons before Eärendil's voyage.

    But, yes, Venus "rose from the foamy depths" to Homer, just as (another pun! though only in English) the dawn had "rosy fingers." And, on fanfic, imagine if Aragorn sent a palantir to Mars?! He could then talk to the LGM directly.
  • Folk som bor i Norge, må holde sammen, så flott at det er flere her!! (People who live in Norway have to stay together, so it is fun that there is more of us). I have tried to "preach" about PNM in every appropriate place, so if you are one of those, fantastic, it has worked!
  • Hurrah @Aunt_Sofie !  I don't have to feel alone in my time zone! <3
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