Siobhan Bohnacker on the challenges of making a set for “Waiting for Godot,” and the contemporary set design in Sean Mathias’s current reprisal: http://nyr.kr/1gaBFS7
“A paradigm for the human condition, ‘Godot’ oscillates between the tangible and real and that which remains invisible and unknowable. The set designer’s task is to evoke the enigmatic void of the space between the two.”
Top: The first production of, “Godot,” directed by Roger Blin, who also starred as Pozzo (far right)
Frost and Fire
In the constellation of Leo 33.1 light years away, a Neptune-sized planet orbits a red dwarf star at a distance of 4.3 million kilometres—15 times closer than Mercury is to our sun. It’s no surprise that the planet, Gliese 436 b, has an incredibly hot surface temperature of 439 degrees Celsius, but it’s definitely a surprise that the planet is also covered in ice. Since the boiling point of water is 100 degrees Celsuis, it seems impossible for ice to exist, but Gliese 436 b’s ice isn’t exactly conventional ice as we know it on Earth. It’s a phenomenon called “hot ice”, or “ice ten”—a kind of hot, solid water. It looks a lot like our ice, but if you touched it, it would pretty much melt through your flesh. It’s not kept in a solid state by a low temperature; instead, the planet’s gravity is so powerful that it pulls all its water vapour towards the core, forcing it together into a densely-packed, solid, hot layer. Even the incredibly hot temperatures can’t evaporate or melt it. Since the ice alone isn’t enough to account for the planet’s estimated radius, it’s thought that on top is an outer layer made up of hydrogen and helium. It’s puzzling, though, because planets with hot, hydrogren-dominated atmospheres are predicted to have significant amounts of methane and no carbon monoxide—but on Gliese 436b, it’s the other way around, and we have no idea why yet.
Celebrating Hannukah on Instagram
Over the past eight days, Jews across the world have come together with family and friends to celebrate Hannukah, the festival of lights.
Hannukah, also spelled Chanukah, begins on the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev, causing the timing of the holiday to vary each year between late November and late December. The festival commemorates the Maccabee rebellion of 167 BCE, when a Jewish group regained control of their Temple in Jerusalem after it had been occupied by Syrian-Greek soldiers. They set out to burn ritual oil in the Temple’s menorah for eight days to purify the holy space, but found there was only enough oil left to burn for one day. As the story goes, however, the oil miraculously burned for the full eight days.
Now, Jews celebrating Hannukah come together at sunset to light candles in their own menorahs—one a night for eight nights in memory of the ancient miracle. Other Hannukah traditions involve spinning the dreidel—a traditional children’s game—and eating fried potato pancakes called latkes.
Charlayne Hunter-Gault on Nelson Mandela, the father: http://nyr.kr/1gb74nu
“He was married first and foremost to the movement—to the liberation of his people from the vicious, stifling bondage of a white minority who saw themselves as superior, who forcibly removed blacks and other people of color to isolated townships that often lacked running water and indoor plumbing, and which the regime could easily encircle in case of trouble.”
Above: Mandela surprises locals on an impromptu walkabout, 1994. Photograph by Ian Berry/Magnum.
Saturn’s hexagon is a persisting six sided cloud pattern around the north pole of the planet. It is created by a band of upper-atmospheric winds, and the sides of it are about 13,800 km (8,600 mi) long, which is longer than the Earth’s diameter. There’s a hurricane swirling within the hexagon.
(Images by the Cassini spacecraft)