The D-Day Piper

I just read an interesting story, an obituary of Bill Millin, who played the bagpipes during the D-Day landing in Normandy.

Millin began his apparently suicidal serenade immediately upon jumping from the ramp of the landing craft into the icy water. As the Cameron tartan of his kilt floated to the surface he struck up with Hieland Laddie. He continued even as the man behind him was hit, dropped into the sea and sank.

Millin was surprised not to have been shot, and he mentioned this to some Germans who had been taken prisoner.
They said that they had not shot at him because they thought he had gone off his head.

Rest in peace.

137 Years of Popular Science Archives!

According to Wired News,

Gadget nerds: Prepare to lose the rest of your day to awesomeness. PopSci, the web-wing of Popular Science magazine, has scanned its entire 137-year archive and put it online for you to read, absolutely free. The archive, made available in partnership with Google Books, even has the original period advertisements.

This is awesome! I can check the advertisements for 100 years ago in the archives. The cover images are priceless.

From My Neck of the Woods

Looks like there’s an American Idol contestant from Vonore, Tennessee, which is not far from where I grew up.

Vanessa Wolf is her name. I think I’ve been on that bridge before, though I’ve never jumped off of it.

Coker Creek, where I grew up, is smaller than Vonore, I think.

LA Times Blog: 'Big Bang Theory' is an evolved portrayal of scientists

Steven Paul Lieva writes in the LA Times blogs about being a fanboy of The Big Bang Theory. I’m a fanboy myself.

In the face of all that, I would like to put forth the modest suggestion that scientists, as a group, are just as sane and socially capable as any other group of people. Which makes it a wry twist, I suppose, that I would also like to propose that the hit CBS sitcom “The Big Bang Theory” is the finest and best fictional portrayal of scientists in any current media — and a series that is carving out a spot for itself in the annals of television comedy.

Hear, hear! I actually know a few socially-capable scientists at work!

The writers of the series have sculpted full portraits of their characters and polished them with a giddy exploitation of their human frailties as well as compassion for them. Leonard, Sheldon, Howard and Rajesh have become completely relatable to the large audience; some of the audience, of course, may connect to the nerd factor, but certainly not all.

My wife has even gotten into the show, and we’ve evangelized a few of our friends into fans, as well. I do have one hold-out of a friend, who doesn’t seem to find the show very humorous.

The article has some great photos of the cast, check it out!

Update: the science advisor for the show has a blog, too!