Harp not on that string, madam, that is past.
—William Shakespeare, Richard III
You can harp not on that string at the Glasgow Science Centre, because the harp on display has no strings. It replaces them with thin beams of infrared light. Break a beam and a note plays. It’s a bit like the sophisticated alarm systems you see in jewel-heist movies—you know, the ones in which the star has to wriggle and contort his way through a cross-hatch of infrared rays to reach the diamonds. Playing the infrared harp is considerably easier, though it’s an odd experience to create music by plucking thin air.
Infrared radiation also can create funky photos. This is a shot of my parents taken at the Glasgow Science Centre with a camera that—like night-vision goggles—can detect infrared waves given off by our bodies. Certain snakes can sense the infrared radiation given off by warm-blooded prey, and use that when hunting. The snakes detect the radiation through holes in their faces called pit organs.
That’s my mom, who studied piano at Juilliard, skillfully playing the stringless harp in Glasgow in the video (top). This was the second harp-related moment of our British Isles trip. The first came in London, when we visited the former home of George Frideric Handel, the German-born Baroque composer. (Jimi Hendrix later lived in the adjacent flat.) Handel had a beautiful harpsichord, an instrument that got its name from the way it creates sound: Its strings are plucked, like those of a harp, rather than hammered, like those of a piano. Which raises the question: Shouldn’t a piano be called a hammerchord?
An interactive element of the Handel House museum is its wardrobe. My dad and I tested out replicas of the composer’s wig—reminded me of the mad-scientist wigs we have at the Notebook. Pamelia looked quite dashing in Handel’s blue jacket.
But returning home is always enjoyable too. This was the first Maine sunrise we saw, while driving north from Boston.
Back in Maine: A young cormorant at dusk on Saturday on Jordan Pond.
The Notebook hosted a fun birthday party yesterday for 7-year-old Max and 14 of his friends. The dinosaur cake was an especially big hit.
Here’s a peek inside a brown paper bag full of the dinosaurs and dino bones (carefully planted in advance) that young partygoers dug up on the Seal Harbor beach. Is that a cool party activity, or what?
The Mount Desert Island Marathon made its way through Seal Harbor this morning in the cold rain. The runners very much appreciated our yells of encouragement.
One more illusion, from the Glasgow Science Centre:
No, I am not actually standing on the chair. See next photo…
A camera shoots the image from a spot outside the left edge of this picture, with the legs and the chairback lined up to create the illusion. In our photo, Pamelia stood closer to the camera, by the two chair legs, while I stood on the seat in back, making her appear larger.
This explains the science behind it.
O.K., one FINAL last illusion, again from the Glasgow Science Centre. As you might have guessed, I was lying on the floor when this photo was taken.