December 23rd, 2002

Waking Lies and Gangs of New York and stuff in between

  • Saturday evening, I went over to ebeloic's apartment to watch the animated film Waking Lies with Jen and taem. Waking Lies is an interesting film, if perhaps overly noodlish and self-focused, perhaps even solipsistic. It's a film that debates the meaning of existence, and does so against a wonderful animated background. It lacks a plot, or a serious plot; I don't count the dreamer-trying-to-wake-up-from-his-dream thing as very serious. It functions to present ideas, but it doesn't debate them. I'd thought that it'd be, at the beginning, a debate between proponents of social constructionism and those who believe in teh idea of an innate self; me, I don't see why the two views can't be reconciled.

  • Saturday evening, after Waking Lies, we engaged in a free-wheeling discussion that touched upon role-playing games (Trinityis silly) and transhumanism (an immature philosophy derived from debased Nietzche, I think) and genetic engineering (certain to be produced from catastrophic social failures and human suffering), but centred upon the question of how to build a just society. Over the course of the evening, I came to the opinion that no matter how well a theory may work in theory and could work if given a chance, the perfect implementation of theory is never possible simply because of the ineradicability of the psychic legacies of the past. (Too, getting naturally conservative people to support radical changes without a potentially anti-democratic and bloody vanguard might be difficult. Oh, and systems don't triumph on the basis of their innate justice, but on the basis of superior force--witness the intended fate of Finland at Soviet hands, and the actual fates of Latvia and Estonia--and can get strangled in their cradles.) Still, all in all, quite fun.

  • Sunday evening, I went to Pat & Willy's, a local Mexican restaurant, with other English majors. It was good to see Christine and Tammie, back from their English sojourns, to meet some other people, and to see the others I've become accustomed too. Fun conversation, excellent gifts; the Galaxy-brand chocolate in particular was good, that and the Times of London. Afterwards, I decided to go to the movies, with Tammie and Alanna and Dave and Stu, to see Gangs of New York

  • Sunday night, I caught the 9:50 pm showing; it lasted until 12:40 am. I'm uncertain about the film's artistic merits, mainly because I've never considered that kind of thing before; it does feel complete in and of itself, though, always a plus. The film's historical veracity is also impressive: Gangs of New York is the first major film I know of that touches upon the 1863 draft riots in New York City (which were, in their way, a disorganized and ideologically naive precursor to the Paris Commune), and I was impressed by the examinations of ethnic street gangs and by the presentation of New York City in the mid-19th century as a fundamentally Third World realm by our standards. Quite good.

  • Monday morning, I'm typing in E-mails and LJ entries and sundry other things. Then, after too little sleep, I'll go to the gym and then start anotehr exciting day!

  • Current Mood
    tired tired

Epsilon Indi B

From :

We have identified a new early T dwarf only 3.6pc from the Sun, as a common proper motion companion (separation 1459AU) to the K5V star Epsilon Indi (HD209100). As such, Epsilon Indi B is one of the highest proper motion sources outside the solar system (~4.7 arcsec/yr), part of one of the twenty nearest stellar systems, and the nearest brown dwarf to the Sun. Optical photometry obtained from the SuperCOSMOS Sky Survey was combined with approximate infrared photometry from the 2MASS Quicklook survey data release, yielding colours for the source typical of early T dwarfs. Follow up infrared spectroscopy using the ESO NTT and SOFI confirmed its spectral type to be T2.5+/-0.5. With Ks=11.2, Epsilon Indi B is 1.7 magnitudes brighter than any previously known T dwarf and 4 magnitudes brighter than the typical object in its class, making it highly amenable to detailed study. Also, as a companion to a bright nearby star, it has a precisely known distance (3.626pc) and relatively well-known age (0.8-2Gyr), allowing us to estimate its luminosity as logL/Lsun=-4.67, its effective temperature as 1260K, and its mass as ~40-60Mjup. Epsilon Indi B represents an important addition to the census of the Solar neighbourhood and, equally importantly, a new benchmark object in our understanding of substellar objects.
So: A brown dwarf orbiting a sun-like star. It's a bright brown dwarf, and Epsilon Indi A (with B) appear to be relatively old so recognizable life could well have evolved on an Earth-sized (or Mars-sized) moon orbiting Epsilon Indi B.

I love the new wave of astronomical discoveries.
  • Current Music
    Mylène Farmer, "California" (L.A.P.D. Club Mix)