It ended

9 02 2013

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they would navigate the girl-less sixth form together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumour and wit. Maybe Adrian was a little more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they all swore to stay friends for life.Now Tony is in middle age. He’s had a career and a single marriage, a calm divorce. He’s certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is imperfect. It can always throw up surprises, as a lawyer’s letter is about to prove.The Sense of an Ending is the story of one man coming to terms with the mutable past. Laced with trademark precision, dexterity and insight, it is the work of one of the world’s most distinguished writers.

Memory is indeed imperfect. I read this 18 months ago and can’t really remember very much about it other than it was well-written, as always, but ultimately unsatisfying. I’ve blanked the rest.

2 star

Cosmic, man

2 02 2013

The Universe. In a year

I do like this

The Universe in One Year was inspired by the late astronomer, Carl Sagan (1934-1996). Sagan was the first person to explain the history of the universe in one year-as a “Cosmic Calendar”-in his television series, Cosmos.

Looking at the calendar in a bit more detail:

Pre-December Dates

Big Bang January 1

Origin of Milky Way Galaxy May 1

Origin of the solar system September 9

Formation of the Earth September 14

Origin of life on Earth ~ September 25


December 31

Origin of Proconsul and Ramapithecus, probable ancestors of apes and men ~ 1:30 p.m.

First humans ~ 10:30 p.m.

Widespread use of stone tools 11:00 p.m.

Domestication of fire by Peking man 11:46 p.m.

Beginning of most recent glacial period 11:56 p.m.

Seafarers settle Australia 11:58 p.m.

Extensive cave painting in Europe 11:59 p.m.

Invention of agriculture 11:59:20 p.m.

Neolithic civilization; first cities 11:59:35 p.m.

First dynasties in Sumer, Ebla and Egypt; development of astronomy 11:59:50 p.m.

Invention of the alphabet; Akkadian Empire 11:59:51 p.m.

Hammurabic legal codes in Babylon; Middle Kingdom in Egypt 11:59:52 p.m.

Bronze metallurgy; Mycenaean culture; Trojan War; Olmec culture; invention of the compass 11:59:53 p.m.

Iron metallurgy; First Assyrian Empire; Kingdom of Israel; founding of Carthage by Phoenicia 11:59:54 p.m.

Asokan India; Ch’in Dynasty China; Periclean Athens; birth of Buddha 11:59:55 p.m.

Euclidean geometry; Archimedean physics; Ptolemaic astronomy; Roman Empire; birth of Christ 11:59:56 p.m.

Zero and decimals invented in Indian arithmetic; Rome falls; Birth of Islam and the Islamic Civilization 11:59:57 p.m.

Mayan civilization; Sung Dynasty China; Byzantine empire; Mongol invasion; Crusades 11:59:58 p.m.

Renaissance in Europe; voyages of discovery from Europe and from Ming Dynasty China; emergence of the experimental method in science 11:59:59 p.m.

Widespread development of science and technology; emergence of global culture; acquisition of the means of self-destruction of the human species; first steps in spacecraft planetary exploration and the search of extraterrestrial intelligence

Now: The first second of New Year’s Day

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