Chernobyl: 30 Years Later

In 1986, we were in college. In January, Challenger broke apart 73 seconds after lift-off. On April 26, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant suffered catastrophic failures. In July, Anna’s father died of cancer, probably caused by his work cleaning nuclear weapons during two years of requisite military service in the 1950s. In December, Anna traveled to the Soviet Union on a three-week study abroad course; because of … Continue reading Chernobyl: 30 Years Later

On This Date: 5 Anniversaries for April 20

Looking for something to ponder or celebration today, April 20? Here you go! 1862: Louis Pasteur and Claude Bernard prove that spontaneous generation doesn’t happen. If you’re still hoping that something can come from nothing, you’re more than 150 years behind the times. 1902: Pierre and Marie Curie radium chloride, the first compound of radium to be isolated in a pure state. In 2013, the FDA approved … Continue reading On This Date: 5 Anniversaries for April 20

Nobel Week 2015

Svetlana Alexievich is awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature 2015. Alexievich is a Belarusian writer who is being recognized, according to the announcement, “”for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time.” Especially in light of our focus on “Countdown to The Cold War” over the past year, Lofty Ambitions applauds this selection. Read an excerpt from Alexievich’s “Voices from Chernobyl” in The … Continue reading Nobel Week 2015

5 Physicists with Birthdays This Week

It’s Nobel Prize week, and Wednesday’s announcement of this year’s award in Physics says, “The Nobel Prize in Physics 2015 recognises Takaaki Kajita in Japan andArthur B. McDonald in Canada, for their key contributions to the experiments which demonstrated that neutrinos change identities. This metamorphosis requires that neutrinos have mass. The discovery has changed our understanding of the innermost workings of matter and can prove crucial to our … Continue reading 5 Physicists with Birthdays This Week

5 Graphic (Nonfiction) Books

What It Is: the formless thing which gives things form (2008) By Lynda Barry Lynda Barry’s What It Is is a book like none other we’ve seen. It’s part stories, part memoir about her life, and part creativity workbook for the reader. It’s nonlinear; it poses questions; it’s fun. One of our favorite bits of wisdom: To be able to stand not knowing long enough … Continue reading 5 Graphic (Nonfiction) Books

Countdown to The Cold War (sort of, with serendipity)

Longtime readers of Lofty Ambitions know what tremendous fans we are of the seemingly random connections of things that push their way into our lives to give us delight in the form of serendipity Over the weekend, we were co-editing a piece of writing that mentioned our parents’ exposure to duck-and-cover drills as schoolchildren. This prompted a question of when that famous film that featured … Continue reading Countdown to The Cold War (sort of, with serendipity)

Countdown to The Cold War: The Language of Trinity

Two weeks ago, we wrote about the 70th anniversary of the Trinity test. This was the first detonation  of an atomic bomb. Being writers and lovers of words, we are following up by examining more closely the language and literature that surrounded the Trinity test and the birth of the atomic age. Here, we also take a look at some of the other intriguing facts, occurrences, and … Continue reading Countdown to The Cold War: The Language of Trinity

Countdown to The Cold War: June 1945

Within 4 months we shall in all probability have completed the most terrible weapon ever known in human history, one bomb of which could destroy a whole city. These words began a memo that was drafted by Secretary of War Henry Stimson and presented on April 25, 1945, to President Truman. Truman had been president less than two weeks, and, with the help of General … Continue reading Countdown to The Cold War: June 1945

Countdown to The Cold War: J. Robert Oppenheimer

On this date in 1904, Julius Robert Oppenheimer was born in New York. Forty years later, he became the head of the secret nuclear weapons laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and, therefore, also became instrumental in the countdown to The Cold War. We’ve written about Oppenheimer before, and we’ve visited Los Alamos a few times to walk in his footsteps. Here, we talk about … Continue reading Countdown to The Cold War: J. Robert Oppenheimer

Five French Scientists

We’re in Paris for a week. See last week’s post for information about the A380 we flew. Here are five French scientists we’d like to meet while we’re in France, if only they were still alive. These scientists represent the kind of thinking we appreciate, thinking outside the box and searching for novel connections. Marie Curie (1867-1934) Okay, she was a naturalized French citizen, but … Continue reading Five French Scientists