[The planetary nebula M 2-9, winds from a dying star. Credit: NASA / ESA / Hubble Legacy Archive / Judy Schmidt]
Not what you might expect from an astronomer, but in my defense I am alive
I use gmail, and for some reason I sometimes label and archive emails I want to save when they’re still unread. This is my own fault; I will read an email and than mark it “unread” if it’s something I have to take care of later. Sometimes I archive them before marking them as “read” again, though, so the sidebar tells me I have 147 unread emails archived under the “lectures” label, for example.
These are old emails, and I have a bajillion emails in the folder, pages and pages of them. How to find the ones marked as unread so I can mark them as read and not see them silently mocking me in the sidebar?
So I looked it up. In the “Search mail” field at the top of the Gmail page, put in “is:unread” and boom. Unread emails are listed. You can do this in the archive, too: “label:lecture is:unread”. To mark them as read, just click the little square (it says “Select” when you hover over it) at the top left of the list and then click the “read” icon (the open envelope).
Woohoo! No more guilt. Well, no more “j’accuse!” unread emails I can see. And if I don’t see it, it’s not a problem!
Yeah, that last sentence may need to be the subject of another Life Hack.
What I’ve recently written on the blog, ICYMI
[The galaxy cluster MACSJ0138.0-2155 has so much mass it gravitationally distorts light from a more distant galaxy, warping it into arcs as seen from Earth. From Monday’s article. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, A. Newman, M. Akhshik, K. Whitaker; CC BY 4.0]
Monday 26 July, 2021: Magnificent Hubble image of a cluster warping space and stripping gas
Tuesday 27 July, 2021: An ancient remnant of a galactic collision encircles the Sombrero Galaxy
Wednesday 28 July, 2021: Forecast for Jupiter's moon Ganymede: Extremely cold and… humid?
Thursday 29 July, 2021: This is the best time all year to see the ringed magnificence of Saturn
Friday 30 July, 2021:Psyche is the most metal asteroid: It may have volcanoes that spewed molten iron
Something I think you’ll like
If you don’t know my friend Scott Sigler, you should. I’ve mentioned him in BAN a few times before (notably here, where I did a podcast with him and his wife A): He’s an author who writes mostly scifi/horror, and his stuff is all science-based, or at least he tries to stick to good science as much as he can. His horror stuff is really good, and the Pandemic trilogy is quite unsettling (affiliate link). I highly suggest you pick those up.
Scott has a new(ish) novel that I finished recently and it was great. It’s called Aliens: Phalanx, and yes, it’s set in the Aliens universe. I’ve seen quite a few short videos and such set in the same universe, and they tend to repeat the same stories already told; humans on a spaceship or whatever find an egg, get infected, blah blah blah.
But Scott’s story is significantly different. I won’t spoil it, but it takes place on a planet where the humans have essentially medieval tech and thinking. There used to be a more advanced civilization that spanned much of the planet but now there are separate groups in holds; mountain fortresses to protect them from “demons” that prowl the land.
The story focuses on a young woman, Ahiliyah, who is a runner: teenagers who can travel quickly across land from hold to hold for trade. She’s a great protagonist: Smart, willfull, unwilling to take any crap from anyone, but still grounded and interesting, even vulnerable at times. We follow her as the situation on the planet changes, and she has to accept more responsibility to save her people and, hopefully and eventually, much more.
Sorry about being vague, but I hate spoilers!
Given her character, I’ll note this isn’t what I’d call Young Adult, though I’d have no problem letting a young teenager read it. I found it really engaging, fun, brisk, and difficult to put down. He has a new take on both the humans and the aliens which makes the story fresh, and he has an ability to draw you in and make you care about the characters; that made the scenes with the demons a lot edgier and scary.
If you’re wondering if I’m biased, well, yes, Scott and A are dear friends, but one reason we all like each other is we respect what the others do. I would never recommend something I didn’t myself enjoy. And I enjoyed the heck out of this book. I’ll also note he’s a New York Times bestselling author, so there’s that too.
It’s available at the usual places, including Amazon (again, affiliate link). There are other books 20th Century Fox has approved by other authors as well. If they’re anywhere near the quality of Scotts book I’ll be picking them up, too.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org (though replies can take a while), and all my social media outlets are gathered together at about.me. Also, if you don’t already, please subscribe to this newsletter! And feel free to tell a friend or nine, too. Thanks!