Kickoff For December 21, 2020

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Monday Kickoff, a collection of what I’ve found interesting, informative, and insightful on the web over the last seven days.

It’s hard to believe that the Silly Season is upon us. I’m still trying to figure out where June went … But the calendar doesn’t lie. And if it is lying, it’s doing a great job. Regardless, it’s the start of another week, which means we can get this Monday started with these links:


How awe drives scientists to make a leap into the unknown, wherein Helen De Cruz explains that when existing theories and frameworks break down, scientists draw on their emotions to try to spark a new scientific revolution.

Physics in a second language, wherein we learn about some of the challenges that non-native speakers of English face when pursuing and education and a career in physics.

Experimental Imaging at the Birth of Modern Science, wherein Gregorio Astengo explores how scholars during the Enlightenment created visualizations to accompany their research, and how they turned scientific illustration into a form of art.

Arts and Literature

The Strange Tale of the Oldest Science Fiction Novel, wherein Brent Swancer looks back at a 2nd century novel by Lucian of Samos, a novel that laid the foundation for what becam science fiction.

How to read more books, wherein Christian Jarrett discusses the habit changes that we need to make to be able to read more books.

Science Fiction in the Anthropocene, wherein Vandana Singh explains how SF at its best examines our relationships with what’s around us, and how it can offer a way out of our troubles.


The grim truth behind the Pied Piper, wherein we learn that the fanciful tale might actually have more than a bit of historical truth to it.

For the wanderers who became the Aztecs history was a chorus of voices, wherein we learn how the Aztecs came to record, and recite, history in a way that confounded Europeans.

The Conspiracy on Pushkin Street: The Costs of Humor in the USSR, wherein we learn how, in Stalin’s Russia, a poem, a few jokes, and five open minds could spell disaster.

And that’s it for this Monday. Come back in seven days for another set of links to start off your week.

Scott Nesbitt