The Sciences

Visitors as Pleasant Distractions

Cosmic VarianceBy cjohnsonOct 11, 2005 5:23 PM

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Working at home in the morning today, trying to find a pool of calm to think about physics after the organisational storm of the last couple of days, culminating in the excellent Energy colloquium about which I'll post shortly. Sitting outside on the patio, working through the world's supply of coffee and tea (one has to do one's part) while scribbling is always very nice. There are distractions, of course, and some of them are pleasant. Two recent ones:

(1) This giant beetle (larger than the size of the top joint of your thumb!) which is a beautiful iridescent green (not revealed in the picture - it left before I could get a good angle to photograph its underbelly). In flight it is huge and loud, like the helicopters that fly over a lot in this city's busy skies. I had to get up and run to shut the windows it was busily trying to enter. It is so (at first) terrifying in flight close up that my first thought was that if it found its way into the house, I would just give it the keys and leave. But once it alighted on a surface and I could look at it and see how beautiful it was, I was hooked. Does anyone know what this wonderful/scary/beautiful creature is called? ((S)he did not stop to chat.) Specifically, I mean - what type of beetle is it? (Another iridescent green visitor I'd like to capture on "film" is a marvellous tiny hummingbird (of some sort) that keeps coming to visit the stralitsias, the buddleias, and the salvia leucantha (Mexican sage) that are all blooming in the front garden now. But this beauty moves way too fast, and is rather shy.)

(2) The sounds of my mum (visiting for a while from the UK) chuckling away as she reads J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" with evident enjoyment (she has not even noticed me snapping this picture). She's recently discovered Potter, and so I expect she'll have several days of fun to come, reading these books. (I'll have to borrow or buy the later ones for her since I've never read further than the first one, which someone bought for me several years ago. - Yes, I know it should be "...Philosopher's Stone": don't get me started on that topic!) -cvj

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