Matthew Gifford

Weekend notes: 12/9/16

Building steam

The north pole of Saturn

Last week, I mentioned that Titan is the next logical place in the solar system for humans to colonize. Cassini–Huygens, the probe that has been studying Titan, among other things in the Saturn system, just moved into a ring-grazing orbit. This orbit sends it high over the northern hemisphere of Saturn. The first images sent back from that vantage point are amazing.

The area shown in this image is 14,360 x 14,360 miles.

Hold onto your butts

Scientists have discovered a piece of amber containing a 1.4” segment of a feathered dinosaur tail. Sound familiar? Pretty sure someone made a movie about this.

They believe the tail comes from a juvenile coelurosaur. Not having heard of coelurosaurs before, I looked it up on Wikipedia. Coelurosauria is the group of theropods that are closely related to birds. This group includes Tyrannosaurus Rex, which apparently now looks much more terrifying than the T-Rex I grew up with.

By RJPalmerArt — File:Rjpalmer tyrannosaurusrex 001.jpg, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link


When I first went to college, I was a typical flannel-wearing grunge kid. If music didn’t have loud guitars, or jangly guitars, or pretty much any other kind of guitars, I wasn’t interested. Then, one day, I saw DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing at the record store. I don’t know why I picked it up. But I did. And it changed my life. That sounds like an exaggeration. It’s not.

Until then, I lived a fairly narrow life. I liked to dress according to a particular stereotype. I read science fiction and fantasy books almost exclusively. I wasn’t an adventurous eater. I didn’t really appreciate art. I only listened to music that fit within certain parameters.

The first time I played Entroducing on the little stereo in my apartment, my mind was blown. It was beautiful and dark and soulful and smart and surprising. It was jazz and classical and funk and metal and electronic. My opinions about what music should sound like and how it should be made were smashed. Over time, this shift in thinking spread to other parts of my life.

I had been so ignorant. Now life’s possibilities were endless.

That was twenty years ago. Twenty.

I had no idea, until I saw that the Song Exploder podcast was commemorating the anniversary.

If you’re not familiar with Endtroducing, I encourage you to check it out. Here’s my favorite song from the album.

December 9, 2016

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