It’s Bucky!

Buckypaper is now on its way to becoming a reality for consumer products, according to the Florida State University.  Personally the idea of super strong carbon paper is only somewhat interesting.  While the name makes sense, B. Fuller’s name still just gives me the giggles.  It’s just that funny – I can’t take the nickname ‘bucky’ seriously.  But who says science can’t be full of play?

The whole thing brings back childhood memories.  My aunt and uncle had a variety of toys from various grandchildren and other relatives.  One particular favorite at a young age was a white horse with wheels and a blue mane.  Its red saddle had a secret compartment for storing ‘things’, and it would rise in the middle as you scooted across the floor on its back.  The name of this plastic horse, of course, was Bucky.

You might wonder what a plastic horse and a Utopian idealist have in common.  But really it is the idea of what they inspire, that sense of wonder and fun and joy that I find remarkable.  True, Bucky the plastic horse is not an adult toy.  True, Fuller did not have the lasting impact on a variety of fields that he had intended.  But both represent something worth saving for the future, whether as a joy for future childhoods or as an example of the things we all should be thinking about – namely, how our own individual lives will impact the world for good.


The Graveyard Book

It’s rare that I get excited about a new book coming out.  It’s even more rare that I get excited about a book from an author I’ve never read.  And yet, here I am, excited.

Perhaps it’s the season.  Anything called The Graveyard Book seems somehow seasonally appropriate.  Perhaps it has something to do with the synopsis of the book, which reads like a children’s book.  I love children’s books, and I can see countless libraries shelving this one in the YA section.  Perhaps it has to do with the promotion tour for the book, which involves reading a chapter of the book in cemeteries and graveyards around the country, which I find moving.  Perhaps it’s the fact that each reading is accessible for free on the author’s website, meaning you can hear the whole thing before you buy it.  All pretty awesome stuff.

But wait, there’s more.  The author, Neil Gaiman, is also the writer of one Stardust upon which a movie was based.  A movie with a wonderful cast that I happened to enjoy immensely.  Although I haven’t read the book, the movie was delightful.  The plot was fanciful enough that I know I will enjoy other books by the same author.  I may not know his writing style (yet), but from what I do know, I’m sure it will be a delight.

You won’t kill anyone, only yourself.

Michel Fournier hopes to break four world records tomorrow with his stratospheric balloon flight and subsequent free fall.  After being thwarted in 2002 by a ripped balloon and in 2003 by the French authorities refusing to let him launch over thousands of innocent citizens, he’s ready to go.  The Canadian government is giving him permission to launch over Saskatchewan, where the population is so sparse that officials doubt he’ll be able to damage people or property in a bungled fall even if he tried.  In addition, he’s spent more than $20 million so far, so he must’ve paid enough for success, right?  Personally, I don’t trust his ambition.  Didn’t he learn anything from the priest?  Besides, this isn’t even for any good cause.  It’s only for pride.

I supposed it’s no more ridiculous than any of the other things people do – mountain climbers whose final goal is Everest, base jumpers who long for the old World Trade Center, survivalists who cross Death Valley just for fun.  To a certain extent, we all want the biggest and the best, and to be recognized as a member of an elite group.  And to a certain extent, there may be nothing wrong with that sort of pride that drives you to achieve, that pushes you towards success.  I’d rather be a bit full of myself than live my life in fear and never accomplish anything for myself.  Still, pride is something where a little bit can go a long way.  Some of us remember that better than others.