In 1959 the Soviet satellite Luna II lifted off from the Kazakh steppes. At the very edge of the atmosphere, on the threshold of deep space, it released a cloud of sodium vapour so bright it could be seen from the Earth. A day later its plunge into the surface of the Moon was observed by the astronomers it had left behind on Earth. The probe was a tremendous success and a testament to Soviet primacy in space. In particular, it demonstrated that the USSR had the capacity to direct a craft through the vacuum between worlds and deliver it effectively (if violently) to its destination. This was a capability that would be critical in the next stage of the space race, for clear guidance is required if one is to study heavenly things. Continue reading “SF and Late Antiquity”→
A letter written to the bishop of Rome in 381 explains why human beings speak different languages. In the beginning, says the letter, all human beings spoke Hebrew and this was the language of creation, the language that Adam and Eve spoke and the original tongue in which things were named. Through this common language, the letter says, human beings were able to organise themselves so that they could build the tower at Babel. In so doing, they caused offence to God who scattered human beings across the earth and rent the fabric of human language.
I’ve been reviewing the news coverage of the Palmyra arch as I write my paper for NAPS. On April 19th 2016 a “faithful copy” of the Arch of Triumph at Palmyra was erected in Trafalgar Square. It was widely reported in the UK press and there were a number of comment pieces about it. I’ve done a quick overview of this coverage, dividing it into UK news reports, UK comment and international news reports. Please let me know via the comments if there are any more good examples to add.