October 1, 1987 |
Brower Hatcher is one of several artists being considered for a public art commission for Walnut Towers, a mixed residential-commercial building being constructed at Ninth and Walnut Streets by Parkway Corp. and Historic Landmarks for Living. Hatcher's proposal calls for a garden centered on a gigantic classical head that would appear, structurally and metaphorically, to be a comet. A latticelike, 28-foot-long "star trail" would stream from the rear of the head, creating, in the artist's words, "an allegory of past, present and future.
December 9, 1988 |
The parentage of Richard Benjamin's My Stepmother Is an Alien can be traced back through Cocoon to a certain extraterrestrial botanist who waddled his way into the hearts of millions seven years ago. Like his other megahits, Steven Spielberg's E.T. encouraged its share of imitations and rip-offs. With some noteworthy exceptions, such as Ron Howard's Cocoon, most of them have done nothing more than make us appreciate the simple genius and impeccable craftsmanship of the original.
February 22, 1986
In 1976 I visited Oswiecim, Poland (Auschwitz). I felt the need to spend some time there in the town where my grandfather had served as shohet (religious kosher slaughterer), where my father had been born and where he took me as a young child to show me off to his side of the family. The kaddish (prayer) I said at the site of the ovens seemed so puny in relation to the outcry hanging in the air. The pall over Auschwitz is dense - not from the climate, but from the untold numbers of souls that are still earthbound and in need of the special help that calls for a religion's arsenal of after-life strategies.
February 14, 2003
Call it the baby picture of the universe. Or call it God's fingerprint. At first glance, this green oval splashed with red, yellow and blue resembles a cross between a Tiffany lamp shade and a Jackson Pollock painting. Pretty. Pretty cosmically amazing. For this is the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) full-sky map of all the cosmic microwave radiation in the universe. The WMAP project, done in a partnership between Princeton University and NASA, was released Wednesday; it's named in honor of David Wilkinson, an eminent cosmologist and team member who died last year.
March 24, 2006 |
Last week, researchers announced that data collected by NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), launched in 2001, show that just a trillionth of a trillionth of a second after the "big bang," the universe suddenly expanded from the size of a marble to its present immeasurable size. The WMAP measures minute variations in the density of the cosmic microwave background, a leftover heat signature of the big bang found all over the sky. The minute variations in the background's density are thought to be directly responsible for the current structure of the universe.
July 1, 2007 |
Believers are calling 7/7/07 The Magnificent Seven because it could quite possibly be the luckiest day of the century. Wedding chapels and casinos are bracing for an onslaught of fortune-seekers. Thousands of couples - twice, even three times the average for a summer Saturday - plan to be married in a state of seventh heaven. And, for what it's worth, you can expect a critical mass of people sending out positive vibes. But with Mercury in retrograde, astrologers say, the sevens won't be universally lucky.
June 29, 2009 |
IN THE OPENING scene of the 1974 film "Space Is the Place," jazz iconoclast Sun Ra sits in a fanciful extraterrestrial garden, decked out in Egyptian-inspired headdress and robes, and bemoans the sound of planet Earth as "the sound of guns, anger, frustration. " His proposal is to create a "colony for black people" on this new planet, a Utopian second chance. He ends by deciding to "teleport the whole planet here through music. " The scene captures, fully formed, Ra's idiosyncratic worldview, a unique philosophy blending science fiction, black power, mysticism, mythology and, of course, music.
September 5, 2000 |
Bantam Books will soon reissue its updated - illustrated - edition of Stephen Hawking's wildly popular A Brief History of Time. Beware. As part-time scientific food-taster for my readers, I can report that, having devoured Hawking's original book not once but twice, it leaves no trace. That is because it is entirely incomprehensible. Illustrating the book seems to me akin to tarting up hieroglyphics with Etruscan annotation. Want an invigorating scientific experience? I have a better idea: the new Hayden Planetarium in New York.
April 4, 2006 |
At 1:02 a.m. - plus exactly three seconds - tomorrow, in the fourth month of the year, on the fifth day of that month in the sixth year of the decade, an event that may be simultaneously spectacular and randomly mundane will occur. At that moment, in the linear human concept we call time, the numbers 01-02-03-04-05-06 will align in perfect sequence. And depending on whether you are pathologically superstitious or logically mathematical, this once-in-a-lifetime moment means something.
May 5, 1994 |
Artist Beatrice Tana Wittels takes visitors on a celestial tour in her new exhibition, "Outer Space," on view at the Elkins Park Free Library through May 31. Wittels, 84, of Melrose Park, said the inspiration for the series came from NASA slides taken on the Apollo, Viking, Mariner, Skylab and other space missions. She will show the slides during an opening reception Saturday. The artist also will prepare the refreshments and host a drawing for a free work of her art. Wittels - her gray, almost waist-length hair pulled into a pony tail, her head covered with a baseball cap - recently oversaw the hanging of her show, making sure all the details were attended to. A smallish woman, her face framed with dark horn-rimmed glasses, she is full of anecdotes about her careers and passions.