VERMICELLI WITH CLAM SAUCE, LAKERS-STYLE

31 MAR 02: VERMICELLI
WITH CLAM SAUCE, LAKERS-STYLE

“The Lakers Are Cookin’ Again!
The
Lakers Cookbook
is now available by mail order! It’s full of great
photos and facts on your favorite Lakers and loaded with tasty recipes
from all the Lakers’ players and coaches as well as celebrity VIP’s! The
cost is $20.99 plus $1.73 sales tax for California residents. Orders outside
North America, please add $4.50 for shipping and handling. Proceeds benefit
the Lakers Youth Foundation. The cookbook is now available at Ralphs’ stores
in Southern California!”

OUR UNIVERSE, BORN OUT OF BOUNDARY BRANE FIRE

30 MAR 02: OUR UNIVERSE,
BORN OUT OF BOUNDARY BRANE FIRE

From New
Scientist magazine
, vol 173 issue 2334, 16/03/2002, page 26:

Cycles of creation

Our Universe may be stuck
in an endless loop of death and rebirth. It’s an old idea, says Marcus
Chown
, but the strange power of nothingness has given it a new lease
of life

WHAT happened before the
big bang? If some physicists are to be believed, the question is about
as meaningless as asking what is north of the North Pole. But others don’t
give up so easily.


    According
to two cosmologists, before the big bang there was another big bang. And,
before that, another. “If we’re right,” says Neil Turok of the University
of Cambridge, “the big bang is but one in an infinite series of big bangs
stretching back into the eternal past.” And into the eternal future.

    What
Turok and his colleague Paul Steinhardt of Princeton University are advocating
is a new version of an idea that dates back to the 1920s. Back then the
Russian physicist Aleksandr Friedmann, the father of the big bang idea,
realised that if the gravity of all the matter in the Universe is powerful
enough, it could stop the expansion of the cosmos and turn it around. The
Universe would then carry on contracting down to a “big crunch”. If both
expanding and re-collapsing universes are permitted, it’s a simple step
to imagine the one changing seamlessly into the other. From the big crunch
the Universe would bounce or rebound in a new big bang and the whole cycle
would begin again.


    It was
a popular idea until the 1960s, when Roger Penrose and Stephen Hawking
scuppered it. Using Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which explains
gravity as a warp in space-time, they showed that the big bang must have
started in a singularity. A singularity is a point of infinite density
and temperature, and it’s a big problem for anyone taking a hard look at
the physics of the big bang. That’s because when everything in your equations
goes to infinity, the equations are meaningless. Physics breaks down.


    That
doesn’t rule out a cyclic Universe. But the singularity is like an opaque
curtain, preventing a view through the big bang to earlier times. With
the singularity in the way, it makes no sense to talk about any continuous
existence. If the Universe passes through a singularity, everything gets
scrambled in the breakdown of physics. Nothing in the new universe can
be affected by what happened before, so the previous cycle might as well
not have existed. This was very discouraging, and people abandoned the
idea of a cyclic Universe.


    Its rebirth
has come about because physicists are now convinced that Einstein’s theory
of gravity breaks down at the big bang. It’s all because of quantum mechanics,
which seems to impose a fundamental fuzziness on things. Quantum theory
is usually applied to particles of matter, but many physicists think it
must affect space-time too. The implication, they say, is that nothing
can collapse to a point. Instead there is a minimum size for anything.
The Universe may once have been pretty amazingly small, but it wasn’t infinitesimal,
so its temperature and density weren’t infinite. “The Universe may not,
after all, have begun in a singularity,” says Turok.


    Over
the past decade or so, this idea of space-time fuzziness has encouraged
some physicists to think about what happened before the big bang. But on
its own, it doesn’t prove there was anything, or give any hints about what
that was.


    Then
last year, Turok and Steinhardt came up with the first part of their new
theory. It builds on what are called brane-world scenarios, an outgrowth
of the idea that extra dimensions in space are needed to explain the fundamental
forces of nature. To explain why we experience only four of these dimensions,
physicists have come up with the peculiar idea that the matter and non-gravitational
forces of our Universe are stuck firmly to a four-dimensional island, or
“brane”, floating within a higher-dimensional space. Whereas most of the
extra space dimensions are supposed to be rolled up much smaller than an
atom, it may be that one of them is relatively large, and we simply don’t
see it because it is the exclusive realm of gravity ( New Scientist, 29
September 2001, p 26) .

    “The
brane-world scenario suggests a possible explanation for the big bang,”
says Turok. Branes have their own mass, so a moving brane has an enormous
amount of kinetic energy. And if our brane collided with another brane,
this kinetic energy would be liberated, he thinks. “This could have created
the fireball of the big bang and ultimately all the matter we see in today’s
galaxies and stars”.


    Turok
and Steinhardt, who developed this idea with Justin Khoury of Princeton
University and Burt Ovrut of the University of Pennsylvania, call it the
“ekpyrotic” universe, from the Greek for “born out of fire”.
They have
thought through several colliding-brane scenarios, some involving three
branes. But what they’ve ended up with is a relatively simple scenario,
in which two four-dimensional branes approach each other along a fifth
dimension. Turok and his colleagues call them “boundary branes” because
they form the ultimate boundaries of the Universe.


    “What
we have done is explore what would happen if one brane passes through the
other,” he says. They found that the kinetic energy of the colliding branes
is converted into heat energy within the branes when they collide with
each other, effectively conjuring real particles out of the vacuum. What’s
more, it naturally produces a Universe that is smooth on the largest scales,
but has small lumps and bumps in it to turn into galaxies and galaxy clusters.


    In this
basic model, there’s still no cycle. Just a phase of approaching, empty
branes before the big bang. Then Steinhardt and Turok asked themselves,
what could pull the branes together before their collision? That something
can only be the vacuum in between them, says Turok-because there’s nothing
else there.


    The vacuum,
as it turns out, changes everything. “The vacuum is like a spring between
the plates, or branes,” says Turok. Within our Universe it appears to be
generating a repulsive force-the so-called cosmological constant-which
is driving apart the galaxies. An attractive force would seem to be incompatible
with that. But it turns out that even while there is a repulsion along
the space dimensions inside each brane, there can also be an attraction
between the branes along the fifth dimension.


    Turok’s
team is considering a number of possible mechanisms that might be behind
this force. One suggestion is that there is a charge imbalance between
the two branes that creates an attractive force between them. “We don’t
have a complete theory in which this could be calculated,” Turok says.
“Our scenario is more of a guide as to how things could work.”

    He believes
that today, the spring is still being stretched, but in the far future
it will reach its maximum extension. Once that happens, the branes will
begin to accelerate towards each other until they collide again.


    So in
the new picture, the oscillation occurs only along the fifth dimension.
It happens like this: two branes are pulled together by the vacuum, and
collide. Inside both branes a huge amount of energy is released, and the
branes expand (if you can imagine an infinite rubber sheet being stretched
out, it’s a little like that). We brane-bound creatures call this event
the big bang.


    As the
branes expand and cool, matter and galaxies form. The galaxies drift apart
and age. After a while, the gently repulsive vacuum inside the branes makes
this expansion accelerate, so the galaxies fly apart faster still. The
end looks bleak.


    But meanwhile
the two branes have moved apart and then been pulled back together by the
attractive vacuum in between them. They rush towards a collision once more,
and a new big bang overwhelms both universes.


    So from
the perspective of someone stuck on the brane, space-time just keeps on
expanding, though the expansion is given repeated pushes by successive
bangs-that is, brane collisions. In other words, from the off-brane perspective,
we have something more like the traditional cyclic universe, yo-yoing back
and forth. Meanwhile, from the brane perspective, we have an altogether
different kind of cycle in an eternally expanding Universe.


    This
overcomes another big problem with the old-style cyclic universe. In each
cycle, stars radiate heat into space, but these cyclic models involve closed
universes, so each bang is hotter than its predecessor. Looking backwards
in time, then, the cycles get progressively cooler. The inescapable conclusion
is that the cycles must have begun at some time in the past. “But simply
pushing the origin of the Universe back before the big bang is not very
aesthetically pleasing,” says Turok. “This is another reason why the cyclic
universe was seen as unsatisfactory.”

    The new
cyclic universe avoids this problem. After the branes have passed through
each other, the spring of the vacuum is in compression and causes the space
of the branes to expand for a long time. That dilutes the heat from stars
so that the patch of space that experiences each new bang has essentially
the same temperature as the previous cycle. Consequently, all cycles are
the same and the universe can have oscillated for ever. “Such a universe
is more aesthetically pleasing than a big bang universe since the question
of what happened before is no longer a nagging problem,” says Turok. “The
Universe has been around for ever. There was no beginning.”


    Stars,
galaxies and life may therefore have existed in previous cycles of the
Universe. But, if the cycles are all identical, wouldn’t such endless repetition
be mind-numbingly dull? Turok and Steinhardt think not, because random
events will change the details each time. You won’t get the same galaxies,
planets and people each cycle. “Just because the cycles repeat does not
mean the events in each cycle are identical,” says Turok.


    More
speculatively, he points out that the extra rolled-up dimensions might
vary their sizes between cycles. The significance of this is that the fundamental
forces are suspected to be manifestations of the sizes of these extra dimensions.
“The laws of physics could change from cycle to cycle,” says Turok.


    If the
physical laws can change, they might be driven ever closer to some particular
set, what physicists call an attractor. “If we are lucky, we might find
that the sizes of the extra dimensions home in on particular values,” he
says. “We might then finally have an explanation for, say, the mass of
the electron.”


    Obviously,
both Turok and Steinhardt are excited by all these possibilities. Reactions
from their colleagues are more mixed. “At the moment I have an open mind
on the ekpyrotic universe and its latest oscillating version,” says Tom
Kibble of Imperial College in London. “There is no doubt an element of
hype here, but I think they are right to be excited.”


    Their
most outspoken opponent is Andrei Linde of Stanford University. “This is
mostly hype,” he says. He thinks the whole model is unnecessarily complicated,
like the epicycles that medieval astronomers used to describe the orbits
of the planets in our Solar System.

    But if
Steinhardt and Turok are right after all, the future is less bleak and
more dangerous than we have been told. Some cosmologists suggest that,
because the galaxies are now accelerating apart, the future holds nothing
but an ever emptier, cooler Universe. Now we have an alternative to look
forward to: an almighty surprise, one day, when we and our fellow universe
come together and collide once more in a spectacular finale. And who knows
what will emerge from the fire?

Further reading:

 “The ekpyrotic universe:
colliding branes and the origin of the hot big bang” by Justin Khoury,
Burt Ovrut, Paul Steinhardt and Neil Turok, ( http://www.arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0103239)


“From big crunch to big
bang” by Justin Khoury, Burt Ovrut, Nathan Seiberg, Paul Steinhardt and
Neil Turok ( http://www.arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0108187)


Paul Steinhardt’s website
is at http://feynman.princeton.edu/~steinh Neil Turok’s website is at http://www.damtp.cam.ac.uk/user/ngt1000

ROY WOOD BRINGS HIS BAGPIPE TO NEW YORK CITY

ROY WOOD BRINGS HIS BAGPIPE
TO NEW YORK CITY

from the NYTimes–

March 28, 2002

ROCK REVIEW | ROY WOOD

Returning After 28 Years,
Leading an Army of Brass


By JON PARELES

Bigger means better to Roy
Wood, the English rocker whose four shows at the


Village Underground were
his first New York City performances since 1974. His


music has always equated
blare with rock ‘n’ roll bliss.


    Electric
guitars rang out when he led the Move in the late 1960’s; cellos took


over when he founded the
Electric Light Orchestra with Jeff Lynne in 1971; and


saxophones and voices buttressed
Wizzard, his next band. Roy Wood’s Army, the


band he brought to the Village
Underground, backed him with 12 musicians,


including an eight-member
horn section. Most of the band members were women. Mr.

Wood looked much as he did
in the 1970’s, bearded with brightly dyed long hair.


    Sunday’s
set was a brass-pumped retrospective of Mr. Wood’s catalog from the


Move to the present. Sung
in his high, nervous tenor while female backup singers


gestured in sync, the songs
were the work of a songwriter proclaiming his love


for an imagined 1950’s paradise,
full of pretty girls jiving to jukebox rock, or


a man in thrall to the fearful
power of women’s charms. The Move’s “Fire


Brigade” calls for firemen
to cool him down; a newer song, “Kiss Me Goodnight,


Boadicea,” begs the ancient
warrior queen to “take a break from your pillage and

destruction.”

    The songs
often harked back to grand Phil Spector marches or a swinging


rockabilly two-beat, but
they weren’t pure revivals; they threw in odd key


changes or skipped beats,
while Mr. Wood took guitar solos that swiveled their


way toward brash dissonances.
Other songs took Beatles-style pop and added extra


crimps. The Army also played
the Move’s psychedelic artifacts “I Can Hear the


Grass Grow” and “Flowers
in the Rain,” which showed Mr. Wood’s ear for plant


life.

    With
the horns hooting away, the Army came across like a mixture of a soul revue


and a Las Vegas show band,
conveying a skewed nostalgia. For “Are You Ready to


Rock?” Mr. Wood piled on
one more element: he marched onstage playing bagpipes.


Proud of his eccentricities
old and new, he had clearly decided that nothing


succeeds like excess.

DAVID BERMAN ON ECSTASY

 

29 MAR 02: DAVID BERMAN
ON ECSTASY

From http://www.weeblackskelf.co.uk/cordsuit/articles/w_drugs.htm

THE SUMMER BEFORE THE NIGHT
ECSTASY BECAME ILLEGAL IN THE STATE OF TEXAS


by David Berman

MY FRIEND KYLE always had
a lot of money and could get me into the expensive kind of trouble without
the trouble sticking. He didn’t mind paying for me if it meant raising
hell with loyal company. We were seventeen. You only needed one reason
to be friends at that age. I figured we had at least three. So we broke
the law every day in every way and laughed our asses off at the fucking
stupid world.


    In late
April we began to hear rumors about a new drug in the Metroplex. It was
in the gay bars. Kids at the Arts Magnet were getting it. Certain people
at certain parties had it and it was magical.


    They
called it X. It was supposed to make you unaccountably happy and tolerant
of everyone from headbangers to rich fucks. Even “douchebags.”


    Psychiatrists
had been using it in therapy for years, we were told. It was legal and
local product (it was still special to Texas at that time). It would make
you love and accept anyone. Even yourself.

    This
was a complicated promise for the teenager roiling with hate and confusion.
I hardly believed it. But one night Kyle pulled out some foil holding four
tablets, we each swallowed two, and went to a party where a lot of people
were going to be doing it.


    Coming
around the corner of that house, I’ll never forget the scene. Every high-school
rule was being broken before me. The lions were chatting up the lambs.
I saw sworn enemies talking like longtime companions; a prickly society
bitch on her knees sifting white garden pebbles through her hands with
happy eyes; a brutal wrestler from my school with his arms wrapped around
the trunk of a pecan tree, saying his first words to me ever, “Hi David,”
sweetly, as I walked by.


    I rolled
my jeans up to my knees and sat at the edge of the pool. Maybe for the
first time I felt like no one was going to try to push me in. The stereo
was playing “Blues for Allah” instead of the customary “Eliminator.” Nearby,
two linebackers were confessing how much they depended on each other “on
and off the field.” I felt myself giving in to all the kindness, not caring
if it was a lie or not. By the time a hot Fort Worth Jewess sprang into
in my lap and began running her fingers through my hair, I was sold.


    At sunrise,
I came in through the sliding glass. I woke my father and his new bride,
apologized for staying out all night, and pulled a chair up beside the
bed. I continued to sit there and smile down on them. I said, “I just want
you to know how much I love you, Dad.” Incredibly, he did not kick my ass.
That morning was never mentioned again.

AS I SAID BEFORE, ecstasy
was still legal and as such carried virtually no stigma. Kyle’s uncle kept
a jar of tablets on his desk at his car dealership. Law-abiding adults
were taking them at North Dallas cocktail parties. They were even sold
behind the bars like cigarettes and openly hawked on street corners downtown.


    That
summer, I crushed two sports cars with my homely Buick, received six speeding
tickets (three in one day), two tickets for public urination, impregnated
a Collin County judge’s daughter, and had a bottle of MD 20/20 broken over
my head. Approximately none of it registered with me. A very real fault
of the drug.

    I’m going
to skip the scenes of me chasing daisies and singing to stray dogs from
still bulldozer cabs. I was exercising horses that summer for cash, and
X hangovers were A-OK for barreling over the dull scrubland.


    Sometime
in August, the lawmakers in Austin finally got around to outlawing ecstasy.
What a gift for the dealers! The price of ecstasy immediately quadrupled
and the production costs plummeted as the manufacturers began cutting the
pills with all manner of horrible stuff.


    The night
the law went through, I went to a concert at the Bronco Bowl and snagged
two of the newly illegal pills for a dear price. I had never seen them
in capsules and had no idea it was a sign they were crushing the old “legal”
pills and mixing them with laxative, mannitol, low-grade speed, whatever.


    Once
inside, I spent a half hour wiggling my way to the front of the floor.
Unfortunately, when I got there I had a big problem. Not only were the
drugs not kicking in, they were causing me to have to shit real bad. Michael
Stipe was singing “Moon River” (hey!) a cappella and I knew I was going
to blow if I didn’t part this shoulder-to-shoulder crowd and make it to
the restroom. The audience was frozen in place and dead silent as I plowed
through, “Excuse me, excuse me, emergency here, please, please” ( I think
I even yelled “gangway,” such was my ambition to get through), completely
stepping on the vocalist’s Ethel Merman star turn and nearly getting shhhhhed
to death.


    I passed
the rest of the concert in a nasty stall gritting my teeth, sweating and
coming to terms with what was clearly the symbolic end of a spaced-out
summer.


    Fifteen
years on, I can honestly say I’m glad it was outlawed. After three months
of its use I had lost all discretion and was prepared to trust just about
anyone. Worse yet, it was turning me into a joiner. That’s not who I am.
Anyway, ecstasy was not to find its true customer base until years later,
when the strangely passive kids who grew up in the child protectorate of
the U.S. eighties and nineties came of age, craving depersonalization.
Apparently it helps them dance. They’re a very attractive lot. Have you
seen them dance?

David Berman lives in Nashville.
His first book, Actual Air, came out last year via Open City Press.

NIGHTMARES OF AN ETHER-DRINKER BACK IN PRINT

28 MAR 02: NIGHTMARES
OF AN ETHER-DRINKER
BACK IN PRINT

“The next title to be published
by the Tartarus
Press
will be Nightmares of an


Ether-Drinker by
Jean Lorrain, translated by Brian Stableford. Lorrain was an


archetypal doomed decadent
of the 1890s whose chosen drug, ether, killed him


horribly, though not before
it had inspired him to write a series of morbid


tales which are translated
and collected by Brian Stableford for the first time.

It will be published in
the slightly different format which we have just used


for John Gale’s collection
of prose poems, A Damask of the Dead. It will also


have 1890’s style boards
printed in two colours, and a dustjacket.”