Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Great Regulars: Once known by the tabloids as

"the Barmy Bishop" for his views on God and gay marriage, he has become in old age--he is 78--a man who has lost his belief in God but gained a rare kind of spiritual genius. "The opposite of faith," he says with piercing insight, "is not doubt, it is certainty."

He is now agnostic, which, for him, is the acceptance of ignorance and uncertainty as the inevitable basis of the human condition. He simply laughs at the idea that the human mind can ever be capable of grasping ultimate reality.

from Bryan Appleyard: from The Sunday Times: The Opposite of Faith is not Doubt, it is Certainty


Sir David Hare sent Sir Tom Stoppard his new play. Hare explained that he didn't actually write it, the whole thing came to him 'sub-consciously'. As if possessed, he had been waking up at 3am to get it down on paper.

"If you're a real professional writer," he says, "that happens about once every twenty-five years. This play was given to me because at last I got to say what I wanted to say."

Stoppard admired the play but, with typical deflationary wit, he added that somebody must have written it, "so you might as well take the credit."

from Bryan Appleyard: from The Sunday Times: David Hare's Rattigan


[Geoff] Marcy and many other astronomers can talk like this because, since 1992, they have collected 760 confirmed "exoplanets", the name given to planets outside our solar system. We also know of another 2,300 "candidates", most of which almost certainly are planets, but will not be confirmed until the scientists are 100% sure. The closest known exoplanet to Earth is Epsilon Eridani b, which is only 10 light years away--but don't get too excited, because one light year is 5.88 trillion miles and, without a Star Trekian faster-than-light warp drive, no human will ever get as far as Epsilon Eridani.

from Bryan Appleyard: from The Sunday Times: Planet Hunting


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