For the second time now, since I've been writing dr_phil_physics, I've been driving along a West Michigan freeway only to see an 18" high sunflower growing right where the asphalt meets the gravel on the edge of the road. And this one is in a construction zone on I-96, where they extended the width so as to force both directions over on the same side of the road.
Speaking of Asphalt
In watching Stage 14 of Le Tour de France yesterday, it was another blistering hot day with temps hitting 99degF and the roadway running at around 128degF. That's just under the temperature where asphalt melts. So as they were talking about the natural bitumen asphalt deposits in this part of the mountains/foothills, it began to become clear that the roadway was beginning to melt, making the downhill speed runs slippery and dangerous. A six-bike breakaway lost half its members and half its five minute lead when the tires began to slide instead of grip while making a high speed turn. One bike slammed into the guardrail, taking out a second bike. A third bike further on ran without slowing into the guardrail a little further on flipping its rider into the underbrush down the hillside -- at the time it looked to be a serious injury.
It would just be a comment about things in Europe, except today, the fourth near-100 degree day here in West Michigan, I was out doing some errands and some of the asphalt of the exit and entrance ramps showed what looked like ridged pools of tarry material -- could they be melting, too? We took some visiting relatives to see Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth at Studio 28 on Saturday. If the world is heating up, we may have to repave the world...
Summer Reading Notes
The July 2006 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction starts off with a weird not-so-much for children twisted version of The Wizard of Oz in "Kansas, She Says, Is the Name of the Star" by R. Garcia y Robertson. Pretty much have to recommend this page-turner just because you want to see where it's going.
The August 2006 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction features an Elizabethan space yarn in "The Plurality of Worlds" by Brian Stableford. Combine that early 1900s movie "From the Earth to the Moon" with Sir Walter Raleigh and a bit of "Forbidden Planet" plus Q's trial of humanity in Star Trek: The Next Generation and you have only a hint of this story. Okay, for me it bogs down for a while about two-thirds in, but by that time I'd invested enough reading to wade my way to the end. Still, it's different.
I did my first Sudoku on Saturday, but not one of the usual ones in the newspaper -- it was the lettered SF version in Asimov's. This is their third, I guess. The first was in the March 2006 issue, which I haven't dug through my piles to see if I bought yet, and the second was in the May issue, which I did find and Mrs. Dr. Phil and I raced to see who could do it first on Sunday. So nice to have one of the scanner-copier-printer HP machines... (grin) The letters column in the August issue seems split as to whether SF Sudoku is a good thing or a bad thing, but they are threatening to do one with nine symbols rather than either numbers OR letters... Interesting how nine letters forces you to think a little differently than the oh-so-obvious chain of nine numbers.