Bulent Atalay

THE JULIAN VS. THE GREGORIAN CALENDAR By 2500 BC when the first of the Pyramids were built, the length of the year was reckoned by Egyptian mathematician/priests as 360 days. They had erected pairs of gnomons (posts with notches cut out at their tops) and positioned them vertically so that at the Summer Solstice, light…

Changing Planet

It was a cold and blustery October day! Our tour bus had stopped at a desolate site where a group of visitors had lined up, cameras at the ready, all anxiously waiting. Then suddenly it happened! Perhaps by now you’ve guessed what these people were waiting for. Right after I took this photo, I rushed…

Changing Planet

The tale of the two giants… According to Irish mythology, there once lived a pair of giants, Finn McCool (or Fionn Mac Cumhaill) in Northern Ireland and Benandonnar across the channel in Scotland. The two giants were aware of each other, and loathed each other, especially since their countrymen held them up as their respective…

Changing Planet

In 1988 Peter Weir, the legendary Australian film director, approached the officials of St. Andrew’s School in Middletown, Delaware and asked for the rights to make a film at the school. He explained, “We’ve visited school campuses up and down the East Coast and we were most impressed by St. Andrew’s.” But the screenplay involved…

Wildlife

On December 5, 2013 Nelson Mandela died, one of the most successful fighters for social justice in history. Cut from the same cloth as Mahatma Gandhi, he helped to liberate his nation from racial and colonial oppression, and went on to unify his nation. Mandela had started his decades of struggles as a militant, though…

Changing Planet

June 2013 was not a good month for secular democracy in Turkey! The United States was founded 237 years ago by group genius, by the likes of Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, Madison… all children of the Enlightenment, along with one military hero who became the symbolic “Father of the Nation.” In distinction the modern Turkish Republic…

Changing Planet

I once heard of a tradition in Turkey that Leonardo was invited to Istanbul to paint a portrait of “Mehmed the Conqueror” (Fatih Sultan Mehmet) but was unable to accept the commission. No documentation exists to corroborate this story. But there is manifest evidence of Leonardo’s contemporary, the Venetian painter Gentile Bellini, journeying to Constantinople…

Changing Planet

Leonardo (1452-1519) created no more than 17 paintings during his lifetime. This part-time artist, who created the two most famous paintings in the history of art, was a consummate scientist-engineer, imbuing his art with science, and his science with art. Although he had virtually no formal education, he possessed relentless curiosity, which in combination with…

Human Journey

On August 6, 1945 the United States detonated the first nuclear weapon over another country — dropping a fission device on Hiroshima — and just three days later, dropped a second bomb on Nagasaki. The first wiped out 90% of its target and resulted in approximately 80,000 immediate deaths, the second in approximately 40,000 deaths….

Changing Planet

  A video prepared by Çankaya University in Ankara gives the historical background to the letter. According to the narrative (in Turkish) in 1949 Einstein meets a young foreign student, Münir Ülgür, at Princeton. When he learns that Ülgür is a student from Turkey, he shows visible excitement, “Do you know,” he says, “…your nation…

Changing Planet

This story represents the intersection in the lives of two of my lifelong heroes. First there is Albert Einstein, the greatest scientist since Isaac Newton, and Time Magazine’s choice for “The Individual of the 20th Century.” As a professor of physics for four decades I have been intimately involved with almost every component of his…

Changing Planet