James D. Livingston

The evolution of life

Matt Damon in "The Martian"

Pluto's surface as seen by New Horizons

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket

Size comprison of the Earth, the moon, and Pluto (lower left)

Aerial view of Spaceship Two crash in Mohave Desert

Close-up of nucleus of comet 67P taken by ESA spacecraft Rosetta

Wernher Von Braun & engines of Saturn V

Steven Swanson (left) and Russian colleagues

Yutu, Chinese rover, on the moon

Comet ISON and its green tail

International Space Station, where NASA will continue to support the astronauts during the shutdown

Artist's version of Mars One colony (Bryan Versteeg)

Kepler Space Telescope (artist's version)

Pluto - the Former Ninth Planet

Virgin Galactic space plane over New Mexico's Spaceport America

Saturn - Lord of the Rings

Arizona's Meteor Crater

Radar view of the surface of Venus as seen by Magellan orbiter

Use of Terra, a spin-off of CheMin (instrument on Curiosity), in King Tut's tomb

Streambed found on Mars by Curiosity (compared to dry streambed on Earth)

Self-portrait of the rover Curiosity on Mars.


The Story of Life

August 30, 2016

Tags: homo sapiens, big bang, evolution, RNA world, Georges Lemaitre, Jenn Martel, Life of Pi, story telling, Ken Read-Brown

In an online interview, Yann Martel, the author of “Life of Pi,” said, “the subtext of the book can be summarized in three lines: 1: Life is a story, 2. You can choose the story, 3. A story with God is the better story." And to another question, he answered, "God is hard to believe, ask any believer. Life is hard to believe, ask any scientist. What is your problem with hard to believe?”

Martel’s thoughts, my readings on how skill at story telling provided a likely evolutionary advantage to early homo sapiens, plus a sermon last year by Ken Read-Brown, minister of my UU church on the Great Story, the scientific story of life, together encouraged me to put together for a summer service at the church a condensed version of this story (in what may be a familiar format to those who have read Genesis): (more…)

Selected Works

A brief sequel to Arsenic and Clam Chowder, in which Mary Alice travels north on the Klondike Gold Rush
A sensational murder trial set in 1890s New York
Popular Science
The first review of the many and varied forms of magnetic levitation written for a general audience.
A entertaining treatment of the history, legends, science, and technology of magnets for a general audience.
Historical Biography
The dramatic life story of an early feminist and abolitionist who was both witty and wise.
Undergraduate Textbook
A lively introduction to the electrical, optical, and magnetic properties of solids.

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