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https://plus.google.com/113244828975493133027 Chris “Dirty” Dyer : By Steve Hummer - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Updated: 3:42 p.m. Monday, February 20, 2017 | Posted...
By Steve Hummer - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Updated: 3:42 p.m. Monday, February 20, 2017 | Posted: 3:02 p.m. Monday, February 20, 2017

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA. —

When the Braves added R.A. Dickey and his twitchy pitch to their roster in November, it gladdened one old knuckleballer’s heart.

“It’s kind of special for me. I was lit up when he signed,” said Phil Niekro, one of the classic Braves and a brother in that very select fraternity of those pitchers who literally cling to baseball by their fingernails.

Finally, 30 years after the Hall of Famer threw his last knuckleball for the Braves — a perhaps ill-conceived last hurrah at the age of 48 — Knucksie has the opportunity to witness once more the merger of his pitch and his franchise. Two aspects of his life of which he is paternally proud have been reunited.

Niekro and Dickey are two of the knuckleball’s great advocates, the former ushering the eccentric pitch into the Hall of Fame in 1997, the latter riding it to the Cy Young Award with the Mets in 2012.

Nobody understands the actual and metaphysical ups and downs of this pitch better than the few who have tried to corral it. (“I never mastered it. I was still trying to figure it out my last year throwing it,” Niekro said.)

Which means that the original Atlanta Brave, the statue-worthy Niekro, and the “new” 42-year-old guy brought in to shore up the Braves rotation might be something of co-dependents this season.
Related
Photos: See Braves knuckleballer Dickey in action
Photos: See Braves knuckleballer Dickey in action
Photos: See new Braves pitchers Colon and Dickey
Photos: See new Braves pitchers Colon and Dickey

When Dickey determined that the knuckleball was his last hope for baseball salvation back in 2005, he originally began working with former practitioner Charlie Hough. Upon that foundation, a few years later he added pieces of advice from Niekro. So rare is the pitch that there are scarce few pitching coaches who can share reliable knuckleball knowledge.

Any resource is invaluable. Dickey calls his mentors “the Jedi Council.” Yes, he is, according to his Twitter profile, a “Star Wars nerd” along with “father, husband, Christian, pitcher, author, adventurer, reader, ninja in training & cyclist.” (He has written a penetrating autobiography, a children’s book and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro as well as adopting the most unorthodox of pitches. Yes, he defies most of your basic Bull Durham stereotypes.)

“(Niekro) is a friend first and foremost for me,” Dickey said.

“Each of those men (Hough and Niekro) taught me something that I needed at that moment. It was really fortuitous how it happened because I couldn’t have understood what Phil was telling me unless I had already been to Charlie. All these guys offered me something at the right time. And Phil is a guy I still call if I’m scuffling. I won’t have to go too far now if I want to get with him. It’s nice to have a guy like that in your corner.”

For his part, Niekro, who worked with Dickey on changing speeds with the pitch, is anxious to get to Florida and convene with his pupil. Although, mindful of not overstepping any boundaries with new Braves pitching coach Chuck Hernandez, he is awaiting an invitation before heading south.

In all cases, the knuckleball is designed to mesmerize. Trying to hit Niekro’s knuckler was like “trying to eat soup with a fork,” former third baseman Richie Hebner once said. It’s the kind of pitch that should be pulled over for a breathalyzer test halfway to the plate. There is one major difference between the special deliveries of Niekro and Dickey: the new guy throws it with considerable more velocity (averaging 76 mph last season) than did Niekro. That’s 10 mph quicker than his norm, Niekro said.

In a way, it seems Dickey was born to throw the knuckleball. That is, he was born without a stabilizing ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching arm. That discovery considerably reduced his signing bonus back in 1996 when Texas took him in the first round. He spent nearly 10 years scuffling along as a nondescript “conventional” pitcher before the Rangers convinced him to reinvent himself as a knuckleballer.

“That’s some kind of cocoon to come out of, into the world of knuckleball-land,” Dickey said. “I can assure you it wasn’t easy. It took a lot of time and a lot of people, Phil Niekro being one of them, that made me a lot better.”

The first time Dickey broke out the pitch in a major league game, he gave up six home runs in three innings in 2006. This is the same guy who six years later had the finest season of any knuckleballer, going 20-6 with an ERA of 2.76 in his Cy Young year in New York. And the same guy whose record has been 49-52 since.

Beneath the mop of hair and north of the free range beard is a mind capable of processing the extremes that come with the knuckleball. An English Lit major long ago at Tennessee, Dickey takes an erudite approach to what he does for a living, like a scholar penning a never-finished thesis.

Listen to him riff when asked if he took pride in pitching into his 40s. (Hey, Niekro averaged 15 wins a season between the ages of 43 and 46.)

“No more pride than I would have taken years ago,” he said. “I’m a competitor. I want to win every time out. I want to be good. I want to be dependable and trustworthy for my teammates. I want to be counted on by my coaches and my manager. That never changes. I just want to be consistent.

“The one thing you have to be as a knuckleballer is consistent because you’re always fighting that uphill battle of the unpredictability of the pitch. That comes with an aura around it that you’re constantly having to push back against. For me, it’s paramount that I’m consistent and dependable.”

More than just the guy throwing it, the knuckleball demands adaptation from all in its path.

That certainly includes the guy catching it. Braves catcher Tyler Flowers got his knuckleball mitt — with its 38-inch circumference, four inches more than his regular one — after the Braves signed Dickey. On Day 1 of spring, that glove not quite broken in yet, fluttering pitches routinely caromed off leather and came to rest in grass.

A good attitude and a sense of humor will help.

“I’ve been embarrassed enough in my career, so this isn’t going to be any different,” Flowers said with a smile. “I’ve had to go get plenty of balls from the backstop. I don’t have any issue with looking bad here or there.”

That also includes the guy managing the knuckleball pitcher. Dickey senses he has the right man in Brian Snitker.

“It takes a different type of manager to manage a knuckleballer well, to have some insight (into the pitch),” Dickey said. “You can look like you have never thrown a ball for an inning and the next seven you look like Cy Young. Having a manager who appreciates that, who knows that and knows the end product is going to be what you want is nice.”

As for the guy hitting it, well, that’s his problem.

“There’s a rule when you face a knuckleball: If it’s high, let it (the bat) fly. And if it’s low, let it go,” Braves hitting coach Kevin Seitzer said.

And for the fans watching it, buckle up, because this ride’s got a lot of blind curves and switchbacks. Bad knuckleballs fly far. Good ones embarrass professional hitters.

“I faced him once, it was coming 71 mph and my bat went flying,” said the Braves’ Freddie Freeman. And this is a fellow who hit .478 off Dickey.

Like a pleased parent, Niekro will tell you Dickey’s knuckler will be on occasion a joy to watch this season.

“When he has a good knuckleball, he’s almost unhittable, like most knuckleball pitchers. When they’ve got a good knuckleball, nobody wants to face it,” he said, speaking from a deep well of experience.
With Dickey, the knuckleball back in fashion for Braves
When the Braves added R.A.
7 hours ago - Via Community - View -
https://plus.google.com/100065911472452114952 Indie Psycho :

English Lit is more useful than you think.
In my last year at sixth form, we studies Gothic literature for English Lit, reading the likes of Frankenstein, Macbeth and The Bloody Chamber. My favourite out of these three texts was The Bloody Chamber, a collection of 10 ...
20 hours ago - Via Google+ - View -
https://plus.google.com/111354813304908404809 Ivanna Roquet : benjamin endicott = u.s. cardinal sean p. o’malley Benjamin Endicott Greater Philadelphia Area Data ...
benjamin endicott = u.s. cardinal sean p. o’malley
Benjamin Endicott
Greater Philadelphia Area
Data Quality Analyst at Drivers History, Inc.
Information Technology and Services
Skills:
SSRS, Crystal Reports, Stored Procedures, T-SQL, Microsoft SQL Server, Data Quality Assurance, SSIS, Visual Studio, Microsoft Office, SQL Server 2000-2008, MS Reporting Services, Photoshop, ASP.NET AJAX, IIS
Education:
Arizona State University 2005 – 2007
BA, English Lit.
Chandler/Gilbert Community College 2002 – 2004
Experience:
Drivers History, Inc. October 2013 – Present
Sales Simplicity Software April 2012 – October 2013
Preferred Homecare July 2006 – April 2012
Preferred Homecare October 2005 – July 2006
Prism Retail Services 2001 – 2005 
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2 days ago - Via Google+ - View -
https://plus.google.com/100903638308790258915 Ella Bruckert :

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https://plus.google.com/100296634288910899312 Laura Matherne : People have been so mean to me, thoughtless and cruel, and then they accuse me of being a sociopath ...
People have been so mean to me, thoughtless and cruel, and then they accuse me of being a sociopath because I had to adopt some of their behaviors to survive. THAT is insanely IRONIC. I had a very good English Lit teacher in twelfth grade, or was it eleventh? I was terrified of everything and everyone through out school, and the few good teachers I had made a difference in learning what little there was to learn, even though I struggled through every day.
3 days ago - Via Google+ - View -
https://plus.google.com/103976064614170200994 Maaike van de Sande : Having majored in English lit for 6 years at uni ensured a decent amount of a classics have been read...
Having majored in English lit for 6 years at uni ensured a decent amount of a classics have been read and accumulated over the years. For a long time, I even favored reading classics over easier reads as that’s what I had most experience with and I wasn’t…
Classic books worth a read
Having majored in English lit for 6 years at uni ensured a decent amount of a classics have been read and accumulated over the years. For a long time, I even favored reading classics over easier re…
5 days ago - Via - View -
https://plus.google.com/107552620007943208579 Charlotte Davies :

english lit blog
Gatsby: characters-
5 days ago - Via Google+ - View -
https://plus.google.com/107552620007943208579 Charlotte Davies :

english lit blog
English lit blog for year 12- studying: Gatsby ( as mock ) Othello ( as mock + yr 13 exam ) Death of a salesman ( yr 13 exam ) Keats poems ( year 13 exam )
5 days ago - Via Google+ - View -
https://plus.google.com/114251294750134179474 Department of English, Arizona State University : ASU English lit major Alexis Molina is president of The Underground Foundation at ASU (TUFASU), a student...
ASU English lit major Alexis Molina is president of The Underground Foundation at ASU (TUFASU), a student group dedicated to indie music & art, which is profiled in College Times. http://ow.ly/H7OI308Txly
Long Live the Underground: ASU club combines community and counterculture
When Alexis Molina came to ASU from Carmel, Indiana, she was looking for a creative community that celebrated and promoted independent musicians. Though The Underground Foundation existed on cam…
7 days ago - Via - View -
https://plus.google.com/102395719919300532892 SlideHot : Exploring the themes of Feed, by M. T. Anderson, through multiple texts Kevin Kerr JCHS AP English Lit...
Exploring the themes of Feed, by M. T. Anderson, through multiple texts Kevin Kerr JCHS AP English Lit. March 2013

About the book Feed  a dark dystopia. http://slidehot.com/resources/feed-multi-text.58866/
8 days ago - Via Google+ - View -
https://plus.google.com/109745548028549597358 Matt Hall :

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https://plus.google.com/109286144438875587811 Amy Fyfe : English Lit. Quarter 3 Week 3 Homework Due Thursday 2/7 February 7 th ·       Read: Unit 5, pgs. 204...
English Lit. Quarter 3 Week 3 Homework Due Thursday 2/7
February 7 th ·       Read:
Unit 5, pgs. 204-209 ·       Due
Thursday: o    Nothing, yay! - You can begin on your homework due Tuesday (Feb. 14th): o    Read pages 210-214 and c omplete
questions on page 214. Submit to the Dropbox folder. o    Start
conside...
English Lit. Quarter 3 Week 3 Homework Due Thursday 2/7
February 7th · Read: Unit 5, pgs. 204-209 · Due Thursday: o Nothing, yay! -You can begin on your homework due Tuesday (Feb. 14th): o Read pages 210-214 and complete questions on page 214. Submit to the ...
13 days ago - Via Google+ - View -
https://plus.google.com/104179119974757714565 King James IV : Bout to take an English Lit exam. Totally not ready. This ain't good
Bout to take an English Lit exam. Totally not ready. This ain't good
13 days ago - Via Google+ - View -
https://plus.google.com/108719869102873921801 LoveTEFL : #TeacherThursday Make English Lit fun again by getting students to play out scenes. Intrigued by teaching...
#TeacherThursday Make English Lit fun again by getting students to play out scenes. Intrigued by teaching? http://bit.ly/2jZADgE
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18 days ago - Via - View -
https://plus.google.com/114370383982305389671 Crissy G. S : On this day: At 7th January of 1982, the first episode of "Fame" aired on NBC. "Fame" is an American...
On this day:
At 7th January of 1982, the first episode of "Fame" aired on NBC. "Fame" is an American television series originally produced between 1982 and 1987. The show is based on the 1980 motion picture of the same name. The popularity of the series, particularly in the UK, led to several hit records and live concert tours by the cast. Despite its success, very few of the actors maintained high-profile careers after the series was cancelled. The series won a number of Emmy awards and in 1983 and 1984 was voted the Golden Globe Awards: Television, Best Series, Musical/Comedy.

Alan Parker's film "Fame" (1980) about the artistically gifted musicians and dancers at the New York City High School for the Performing received enough acclaim to turn into a television show with the same name.

"Fame" originally appeared on NBC for a couple of years. This series was a bigger hit in Europe, than in the US. When NBC cancelled the show, the European syndicators wanted it to continue. The producers decided to try this out in syndication. What happened was TV history. The show became a breakout hit in the US and for the first time a syndicated show became viable. This lead the way to the all the other syndicated shows including "Baywatch", "Hercules" and "Highlander".

The TV-series kept some of the original cast from the film such as Debbie Allen who had a minor part in the film as the dance instructor Lydia Grant who became one of the driving forces in the TV series. Contrasting Allen's kinesthetically aptitude, the show also brought the inspiring music teacher Mr. Benjamin Shorofsky (Albert Hague) from the original film to sway the students and perfect their talents.

Unfortunately, the show did not reach the quality of Parker's film, as the series on occasion felt a little two dimensional and simplistic. Despite this, "Fame still" portrayed some intriguing elements of coming of age while trying to reach out of the shadow into the light of fame.

The first season opens with an introduction to the school of the extraordinarily gifted student, as the school receives a new group of students in the episode 'Metamorphosis'. Through the first episode and forward the audience gets to experience the difficulties of being a teen in a highly competitive environment where success means almost everything. Yet, the show manages to touch on several different issues such as compassion in 'A Big Finish' where they help the janitor back on his feet.

There are also many other coming of age issues that come into focus including friendships, drugs, and education. One of the more amusing episodes, 'Tomorrow's Farewell', provides an interesting perspective on how dance compares with physical education, as it also offers movement and coordination versus a football team. There is also the traditional struggle with identity in the show, as these teens face success and failure in a continuous up and down fashion.

The show's theme song was a pop hit for singer Irene Cara, having been featured in the motion picture. A re-recorded version of the theme, using similar instrumentation to the 1980 track, was used in the TV series and sung by co-star Erica Gimpel, who played Coco Hernandez.

She replaced Irene Cara, the original actress of that role in the movie, after she had disagreements, issues with the people behind "Fame" and her record company with regards to royalty payments for her hit, 'Fame'. In addition, the roles of Montgomery and wisecracks Doris Schwaltz and Danny Armatullo were performed by P.R Paul, Valarie Lansberg and Carlo Imperato respectively.

Carol Mayo Jenkins played English Lit teacher, Miss Sherwood, Professor Shorofsky was undertaken by the late Albert Hague and last but not least, Lydia Grant; who having lusted after Leroy in the movie, became a hard- as- nails, tough talking drill sergeant/ dance tutor.

She was played by the ever talented and sublime, Debbie Allen. Debbie Allen's role in the movie was once again very minor, but in the show itself, she became a regular cast member and as Lydia waved her magic wand, slipped on her dancing shoes and danced and sang like never before. For all her production, directorial efforts on other shows, her association with "Fame" will live on in memory for generations to come.

She was in many respects, the heartbeat of and driving force behind 'Fame's success and phenomenon. Almost everything she touched turned to gold. Debbie choreographed most of the dance routines, directed and produced the show, as well as act, dance and she sang on the show too.

In a time when art is exploding through the immense use of the Internet, it is nice to be able to return to the 1980s and see how the performing arts were expressed more than thirty years ago. It is also a nice change from the many criminal, comedy, and governmental sitcoms that now air and have been shown over the decades.

In the end, "Fame" has a terrific entertainment value; especially, if the audience is interested in music and dance, which would make this show is a definite must see.

#Fame #TVShows #80sTVShows
#Onthisday #TVSeries #MusicalShow
#TVShow #TeenSeries #Musical
#TV #NBC #Television #Fame35ThAnniversary
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https://plus.google.com/100934742110236665986 Saleena Chamberlin : PRETEND IT’S LOVE Behind the Bar #2 By Stefanie London Entangled Lovestruck One fake relationship shaken...

PRETEND IT’S LOVE
Behind the Bar #2
By Stefanie London
Entangled Lovestruck

One fake relationship shaken not stirred…

Bar manager Paul Chapman is sick of his family’s traditional ideals. Marriage, babies, and a white picket fence? Not his gig. But now that his ‘golden child’ big brother is tying the knot, Paul’s screwed. His ex will be there…and she’s having his cousin’s baby. Unless he wants to show up to the wedding alone and face his family’s scrutiny, he needs a girl on his arm. Now.
Cocktail specialist Libby Harris has spent her life earning the nickname Little Miss Perfect, all to win the love of her wealthy, controlling father. But she deviated from his plan, and now her business is on shaky ground. If it fails, she might as well kiss his respect-and her dream-good-bye. Her only hope? Convince the hottest bar in town to take on her product.

Luckily for her, the owner’s brother is sexy as sin and in need of a perfect girlfriend…


Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26135322-pretend-it-s-love?from_search=true

On Sale for $.99
Buy Links
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Pretend-Its-Love-Behind-Bar-ebook/dp/B0151V714U
B&N
: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/pretend-its-love-stefanie-london/1122627271?ean=9781633754584
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/pretend-its-love/id1037878353?mt=11
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/pretend-it-s-love

Author Info
A voracious reader, USA Today Bestselling author, Stefanie London has dreamed of being an author her whole life. After sneaking several English Lit subjects into her very practical Business degree, she got a job in corporate communications. But it wasn't long before she turned to romance fiction. She recently left her hometown of Melbourne to start a new adventure in Toronto and now spends her days writing contemporary romances with humour, heat and heart.

Website: http://stefanie-london.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StefanieLondonAuthor/?fref=ts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Stefanie_London

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8138287.Stefanie_London



Review~
Pretend It's Love (Behind the Bar #2) by Stefanie London
•Two Birds One Stone
What an exciting love story, Stefanie has done it again! Once I started reading I couldn't put it down until I finished, I had to know if Paul came around or kept his head in the sand.
Libby is set to launch her new business, Libby Gal Cocktails—a line of girlie infused vodkas and cocktail mixes. However a female reality celebrity has beat her to the punch by a month. Now all the businesses she had lined up for her launch are backing out and dropping her like flies in favor for the celebrity. Libby's father wants her to stop her nonsense and go back to medical school. Her parents have never shown her the unconditional love and support that she's seen with family's around her.
Paul enjoys being the bar manager for the bar that his brother runs. However he feels like he couldn't measure up to his brother's success, he is always in his shadow. When he finds out that Stella, his ex is going to not only be at his brother's wedding with her husband who is not only Paul's cousin, but the guy she cheated on Paul with, but she's pregnant too. He knows he's got to figure out a way to find someone he trusts enough to bring to the wedding, it's in six weeks!
Libby needs a bar to take a chance and showcase her cocktails and Paul needs a perfect girlfriend for the wedding. It's a perfect solution for what they both need, a complete fake relationship. With ground rules in place of course... It's a business deal only, no emotions, no falling in love~ easy since neither do relationships. No sex with anyone.. Doesn't matter that they're both extremely attracted to each other. You'll have to read PRETEND IT'S LOVE to find out what happens between Libby and Paul. By the time I finished reading this story my cheeks hurt from smiling or laughing. Although this is the second book in the series, each story is a standalone novel that coincides with each other. I voluntarily reviewed an ARC copy of this book via Tasty Book Tours through NetGalley in exchange for an honest blog tour review. Due to sexual situations, this book is recommended for readers 17 and older.
Favorite Passages ~
~ The gorgeous ones always made you pay with more than you could afford. They were like credit card debt: trouble from the beginning and hard to get over.
~ “That promise is about as solid as cotton candy.”
~ It would be easy to stay warm and cozy inside her comfort zone, but there was nothing there for her anymore.
~ Today would be the day she let her heart do the talking, and she’d have an answer one way or another.
~ “Besides, boys are stupid. We can’t crucify them for every little mistake.”



22 days ago - Via Google+ - View -
https://plus.google.com/117809773369642218510 Stacy Belinsky : We read 75 more pages of Feed for English lit class. Here are my thoughts on it.
We read 75 more pages of Feed for English lit class. Here are my thoughts on it.
MAL-adaptive
Reading the second assigned section of Feed (M.T. Anderson), about 75 pages, went faster than the first 150 pages. More of a story developed, especially around and with Violet. It is Titus’ perspective, though, so when it is ...
26 days ago - Via Google+ - View -
https://plus.google.com/116498687864592264755 Carol Ann Miles Hughes : History/English lit/Anthropology/Political Science/.Religious Studies/Psy Majors! Find the Oldest Books...
History/English lit/Anthropology/Political Science/.Religious Studies/Psy Majors!
Find the Oldest Books to Research one of the topics cited
Ask are dates times places correct?
What does the behaviors of leaders and followers affect societies today

What did you learn?
Write your thesis...publish online with your email, hand a copy to your instructor in binding and 1 to your Dean
Of Students and preserve copies for yourself. If it is copied, you have the right to sue. Make sure copies are bound. Any technical uses in another's work as reference, must give credit to original author in quotes and parenthesis.
Final Exams in April
Thesis Due no later than May Day along with Graduation fees and purchase or rental of cap and gowns......


Hope you enjoyed class interjections from Cox Communications and Dish Signs
Watch the video: 10 Secrets Of Ancient Egypt
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"The mysteries of Ancient Egypt has fascinated mankind for thousands of years, but AllTime10s has the answers. From who built the pyramids, to what happened ...
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https://plus.google.com/109069750597659953282 sτιηgεяβλτε : The Relativity of Wrong By Isaac Asimov The Skeptical Inquirer, Fall 1989, Vol. 14, No. 1, Pp. 35-44...
The Relativity of Wrong
By Isaac Asimov

The Skeptical Inquirer, Fall 1989, Vol. 14, No. 1, Pp. 35-44

"I RECEIVED a letter the other day. It was handwritten in crabbed penmanship so that it was very difficult to read. Nevertheless, I tried to make it out just in case it might prove to be important. In the first sentence, the writer told me he was majoring in English literature, but felt he needed to teach me science. (I sighed a bit, for I knew very few English Lit majors who are equipped to teach me science, but I am very aware of the vast state of my ignorance and I am prepared to learn as much as I can from anyone, so I read on.)

It seemed that in one of my innumerable essays, I had expressed a certain gladness at living in a century in which we finally got the basis of the universe straight.

I didn't go into detail in the matter, but what I meant was that we now know the basic rules governing the universe, together with the gravitational interrelationships of its gross components, as shown in the theory of relativity worked out between 1905 and 1916. We also know the basic rules governing the subatomic particles and their interrelationships, since these are very neatly described by the quantum theory worked out between 1900 and 1930. What's more, we have found that the galaxies and clusters of galaxies are the basic units of the physical universe, as discovered between 1920 and 1930.

These are all twentieth-century discoveries, you see.

The young specialist in English Lit, having quoted me, went on to lecture me severely on the fact that in every century people have thought they understood the universe at last, and in every century they were proved to be wrong. It follows that the one thing we can say about our modern "knowledge" is that it is wrong. The young man then quoted with approval what Socrates had said on learning that the Delphic oracle had proclaimed him the wisest man in Greece. "If I am the wisest man," said Socrates, "it is because I alone know that I know nothing." the implication was that I was very foolish because I was under the impression I knew a great deal.

My answer to him was, "John, when people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together."

The basic trouble, you see, is that people think that "right" and "wrong" are absolute; that everything that isn't perfectly and completely right is totally and equally wrong.

However, I don't think that's so. It seems to me that right and wrong are fuzzy concepts, and I will devote this essay to an explanation of why I think so.

When my friend the English literature expert tells me that in every century scientists think they have worked out the universe and are always wrong, what I want to know is how wrong are they? Are they always wrong to the same degree? Let's take an example.

In the early days of civilization, the general feeling was that the earth was flat. This was not because people were stupid, or because they were intent on believing silly things. They felt it was flat on the basis of sound evidence. It was not just a matter of "That's how it looks," because the earth does not look flat. It looks chaotically bumpy, with hills, valleys, ravines, cliffs, and so on.

Of course there are plains where, over limited areas, the earth's surface does look fairly flat. One of those plains is in the Tigris-Euphrates area, where the first historical civilization (one with writing) developed, that of the Sumerians.

Perhaps it was the appearance of the plain that persuaded the clever Sumerians to accept the generalization that the earth was flat; that if you somehow evened out all the elevations and depressions, you would be left with flatness. Contributing to the notion may have been the fact that stretches of water (ponds and lakes) looked pretty flat on quiet days.

Another way of looking at it is to ask what is the "curvature" of the earth's surface Over a considerable length, how much does the surface deviate (on the average) from perfect flatness. The flat-earth theory would make it seem that the surface doesn't deviate from flatness at all, that its curvature is 0 to the mile.

Nowadays, of course, we are taught that the flat-earth theory is wrong; that it is all wrong, terribly wrong, absolutely. But it isn't. The curvature of the earth is nearly 0 per mile, so that although the flat-earth theory is wrong, it happens to be nearly right. That's why the theory lasted so long.

There were reasons, to be sure, to find the flat-earth theory unsatisfactory and, about 350 B.C., the Greek philosopher Aristotle summarized them. First, certain stars disappeared beyond the Southern Hemisphere as one traveled north, and beyond the Northern Hemisphere as one traveled south. Second, the earth's shadow on the moon during a lunar eclipse was always the arc of a circle. Third, here on the earth itself, ships disappeared beyond the horizon hull-first in whatever direction they were traveling.

All three observations could not be reasonably explained if the earth's surface were flat, but could be explained by assuming the earth to be a sphere.

What's more, Aristotle believed that all solid matter tended to move toward a common center, and if solid matter did this, it would end up as a sphere. A given volume of matter is, on the average, closer to a common center if it is a sphere than if it is any other shape whatever.

About a century after Aristotle, the Greek philosopher Eratosthenes noted that the sun cast a shadow of different lengths at different latitudes (all the shadows would be the same length if the earth's surface were flat). From the difference in shadow length, he calculated the size of the earthly sphere and it turned out to be 25,000 miles in circumference.

The curvature of such a sphere is about 0.000126 per mile, a quantity very close to 0 per mile, as you can see, and one not easily measured by the techniques at the disposal of the ancients. The tiny difference between 0 and 0.000126 accounts for the fact that it took so long to pass from the flat earth to the spherical earth.

Mind you, even a tiny difference, such as that between 0 and 0.000126, can be extremely important. That difference mounts up. The earth cannot be mapped over large areas with any accuracy at all if the difference isn't taken into account and if the earth isn't considered a sphere rather than a flat surface. Long ocean voyages can't be undertaken with any reasonable way of locating one's own position in the ocean unless the earth is considered spherical rather than flat.

Furthermore, the flat earth presupposes the possibility of an infinite earth, or of the existence of an "end" to the surface. The spherical earth, however, postulates an earth that is both endless and yet finite, and it is the latter postulate that is consistent with all later findings.

So, although the flat-earth theory is only slightly wrong and is a credit to its inventors, all things considered, it is wrong enough to be discarded in favor of the spherical-earth theory.

And yet is the earth a sphere?

No, it is not a sphere; not in the strict mathematical sense. A sphere has certain mathematical properties - for instance, all diameters (that is, all straight lines that pass from one point on its surface, through the center, to another point on its surface) have the same length.

That, however, is not true of the earth. Various diameters of the earth differ in length.

What gave people the notion the earth wasn't a true sphere? To begin with, the sun and the moon have outlines that are perfect circles within the limits of measurement in the early days of the telescope. This is consistent with the supposition that the sun and the moon are perfectly spherical in shape.

However, when Jupiter and Saturn were observed by the first telescopic observers, it became quickly apparent that the outlines of those planets were not circles, but distinct ellipses. That meant that Jupiter and Saturn were not true spheres.

Isaac Newton, toward the end of the seventeenth century, showed that a massive body would form a sphere under the pull of gravitational forces (exactly as Aristotle had argued), but only if it were not rotating. If it were rotating, a centrifugal effect would be set up that would lift the body's substance against gravity, and this effect would be greater the closer to the equator you progressed. The effect would also be greater the more rapidly a spherical object rotated, and Jupiter and Saturn rotated very rapidly indeed.

The earth rotated much more slowly than Jupiter or Saturn so the effect should be smaller, but it should still be there. Actual measurements of the curvature of the earth were carried out in the eighteenth century and Newton was proved correct.

The earth has an equatorial bulge, in other words. It is flattened at the poles. It is an "oblate spheroid" rather than a sphere. This means that the various diameters of the earth differ in length. The longest diameters are any of those that stretch from one point on the equator to an opposite point on the equator. This "equatorial diameter" is 12,755 kilometers (7,927 miles). The shortest diameter is from the North Pole to the South Pole and this "polar diameter" is 12,711 kilometers (7,900 miles).

The difference between the longest and shortest diameters is 44 kilometers (27 miles), and that means that the "oblateness" of the earth (its departure from true sphericity) is 44/12755, or 0.0034. This amounts to l/3 of 1 percent.

To put it another way, on a flat surface, curvature is 0 per mile everywhere. On the earth's spherical surface, curvature is 0.000126 per mile everywhere (or 8 inches per mile). On the earth's oblate spheroidal surface, the curvature varies from 7.973 inches to the mile to 8.027 inches to the mile.

The correction in going from spherical to oblate spheroidal is much smaller than going from flat to spherical. Therefore, although the notion of the earth as a sphere is wrong, strictly speaking, it is not as wrong as the notion of the earth as flat.

Even the oblate-spheroidal notion of the earth is wrong, strictly speaking. In 1958, when the satellite Vanguard I was put into orbit about the earth, it was able to measure the local gravitational pull of the earth--and therefore its shape--with unprecedented precision. It turned out that the equatorial bulge south of the equator was slightly bulgier than the bulge north of the equator, and that the South Pole sea level was slightly nearer the center of the earth than the North Pole sea level was.

There seemed no other way of describing this than by saying the earth was pear-shaped, and at once many people decided that the earth was nothing like a sphere but was shaped like a Bartlett pear dangling in space. Actually, the pear-like deviation from oblate-spheroid perfect was a matter of yards rather than miles, and the adjustment of curvature was in the millionths of an inch per mile.

In short, my English Lit friend, living in a mental world of absolute rights and wrongs, may be imagining that because all theories are wrong, the earth may be thought spherical now, but cubical next century, and a hollow icosahedron the next, and a doughnut shape the one after.

What actually happens is that once scientists get hold of a good concept they gradually refine and extend it with greater and greater subtlety as their instruments of measurement improve. Theories are not so much wrong as incomplete.

This can be pointed out in many cases other than just the shape of the earth. Even when a new theory seems to represent a revolution, it usually arises out of small refinements. If something more than a small refinement were needed, then the old theory would never have endured.

Copernicus switched from an earth-centered planetary system to a sun-centered one. In doing so, he switched from something that was obvious to something that was apparently ridiculous. However, it was a matter of finding better ways of calculating the motion of the planets in the sky, and eventually the geocentric theory was just left behind. It was precisely because the old theory gave results that were fairly good by the measurement standards of the time that kept it in being so long.

Again, it is because the geological formations of the earth change so slowly and the living things upon it evolve so slowly that it seemed reasonable at first to suppose that there was no change and that the earth and life always existed as they do today. If that were so, it would make no difference whether the earth and life were billions of years old or thousands. Thousands were easier to grasp.

But when careful observation showed that the earth and life were changing at a rate that was very tiny but not zero, then it became clear that the earth and life had to be very old. Modern geology came into being, and so did the notion of biological evolution.

If the rate of change were more rapid, geology and evolution would have reached their modern state in ancient times. It is only because the difference between the rate of change in a static universe and the rate of change in an evolutionary one is that between zero and very nearly zero that the creationists can continue propagating their folly.

Since the refinements in theory grow smaller and smaller, even quite ancient theories must have been sufficiently right to allow advances to be made; advances that were not wiped out by subsequent refinements.

The Greeks introduced the notion of latitude and longitude, for instance, and made reasonable maps of the Mediterranean basin even without taking sphericity into account, and we still use latitude and longitude today.

The Sumerians were probably the first to establish the principle that planetary movements in the sky exhibit regularity and can be predicted, and they proceeded to work out ways of doing so even though they assumed the earth to be the center of the universe. Their measurements have been enormously refined but the principle remains.

Naturally, the theories we now have might be considered wrong in the simplistic sense of my English Lit correspondent, but in a much truer and subtler sense, they need only be considered incomplete."
Asimov - The Relativity of Wrong
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