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Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dalí spent much of the 1940s in the U.S., avoiding World War II and its aftermath. He was a well-known fixture on the art scene in Monterey, Calif. — and that's where the largest collection of Dalí's work on the West Coast is now open to the public.

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The middle of summer is when the surprises in publishing turn up. I'm talking about those quietly commanding books that publishers tend to put out now, because fall and winter are focused on big books by established authors. Which brings us to The Dream Life of Astronauts, by Patrick Ryan, a very funny and touching collection of nine short stories that take place in the 1960s and '70s around Cape Canaveral, Fla.

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This is the first in a series of essays concerning our collective future. The goal is to bring forth some of the main issues humanity faces today, as we move forward to uncertain times. In an effort to be as thorough as possible, we will consider two kinds of threats: those due to natural disasters and those that are man-made. The idea is to expose some of the dangers and possible mechanisms that have been proposed to deal with these issues. My intention is not to offer a detailed analysis for each threat — but to invite reflection and, hopefully, action.

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Irresistible Meets Unstoppable. Who Wins?

Feb 4, 2013
Originally published on February 4, 2013 11:37 am

It's such a tantalizing question: What if an irresistible object crashes into an immovable object, what happens? Would the unmovable move? Would the irresistible be resisted? Which one would prevail? Somebody must have thought about this, must have an answer.

Well, someone has. It's Henry Reich, who's been writing/narrating/drawing Minute Physics videos at the Perimeter Institute For Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada, and attracting enormous crowds because his short animated explanations really do explain. In this one, Henry introduces us, with a few careful amendments, to something that Won't Be Moved, then to Something That Won't Stop Moving. They are set on collision course and we get to watch, step by step, what happens. You'll want to stay to the finish, because the end is like nothing I'd imagined.

There may be a few equations that fly over your head, but the drawings are so intuitive, so quietly compelling, I was able to follow the action all the way through.

Stop. Don't read this until you've watched the video...

About the last bit? Frankly, once we kicked gravity out of our equations, and got those two infinitely massive unacceleratable gift boxes heading for each other, I was expecting a crash — a big, universe-ripping crash. But when Henry pulls out a dictionary and reveals a law of nature I'd never heard of — all of a sudden those "infinitely massive" gift boxes become a pair of friendly ghosts, of the Casper variety, that can't be bumped into. I was, I confess, a little disappointed. It's like going to see two heavyweights of the Ali or Frazier class, and finding them weirdly transformed into lightweights — too light to land or take a punch. I'm not sure how to react. Should I ask for my money back, or should I think the universe is just wonderfully weird?

I think I'll go for ... weird.

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