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a bit of bite

Posted by on in words of the day

The Wordnik Word of the Day for September 6, 2012 is


(noun) The act of biting.

‘Morsure’ comes from the Latin ‘morsus,’ biting, a bite.


Farther, that nothing less than a violent heat can disentangle these creatures from their hamated station in life; or give them vigour and humour, to imprint the marks of their little teeth. That if the morsure be hexagonal, it produces poetry; the circular gives eloquence.

Look out for this word

Posted by on in words of the day

The Wordnik Word of the Day for September 3, 2012 is


(noun) Nautical, a watch of two hours, arranged so as to alter the watches kept from day to day by each division of the crew. The first dog-watch is from 4 to 6 p.m., the second from 6 to 8 p.m.

'Dogwatch' probably comes from 'dog-sleep,' a light or interrupted sleep.


When Claggart's unobserved glance happened to light on belted Billy rolling along the upper gun deck in the leisure of the second dogwatch,. . .that glance would follow the cheerful sea Hyperion with a settled meditative and melancholy expression, his eyes strangely suffused with incipient feverish tears.


Posted by on in NASA images

This composite image shows a superbubble in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a small satellite galaxy of the Milky Way located about 160,000 light years from Earth. Many new stars, some of them very massive, are forming in the star cluster NGC 1929, which is embedded in the nebula N44, so named because it is the 44th nebula in a catalog of such objects in the Magellanic Clouds. The massive stars produce intense radiation, expel matter at high speeds, and race through their evolution to explode as supernovas. The winds and supernova shock waves carve out huge cavities called superbubbles in the surrounding gas. X-rays from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory (blue) show hot regions created by these winds and shocks, while infrared data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope (red) outline where the dust and cooler gas are found. The optical light from the 2.2-m Max-Planck-ESO telescope (yellow) in Chile shows where ultraviolet radiation from hot, young stars is causing gas in the nebula to glow.


A long-running problem in high-energy astrophysics has been that some superbubbles in the LMC, including N44, give off a lot more X-rays than expected from models of their structure. These models assume that hot, X-ray emitting gas has been produced by winds from massive stars and the remains of several supernovas. A Chandra study published in 2011 showed that there are two extra sources of N44’s X-ray emission not included in these models: supernova shock waves striking the walls of the cavities, and hot material evaporating from the cavity walls. The Chandra observations also show no evidence for an enhancement of elements heavier than hydrogen and helium in the cavities, thus ruling out this possibility as a third explanation for the bright X-ray emission. Only with long observations making full use of the capabilities of Chandra has it now become possible to distinguish between different sources of the X-rays produced by superbubbles.


The Chandra study of N44 and another superbubble in the LMC was led by Anne Jaskot from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The co-authors were Dave Strickland from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, Sally Oey from University of Michigan, You-Hua Chu from University of Illinois and Guillermo Garcia-Segura from Instituto de Astronomia-UNAM in Ensenada, Mexico.


NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra's science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.


Credits: X-ray: NASA/CXC/U.Mich./S.Oey, IR: NASA/JPL, Optical: ESO/WFI/2.2-m


the homunculus counts as one of these

Posted by on in words of the day

The Wordnik Word of the Day for August 30, 2012 is


(noun) A hypothetical primordial life-form or chemical precursor to a living organism.

(noun) An artificially-created creature; a Frankenstein's monster.

‘Eobiont’ comes from ‘eo,’ characterized by the earliest appearance of (which comes from the Greek ‘eos,’ dawn), and ‘biont,’ individual organism.


Perplexingly, Mulisch does not devote much space to Victor's scientific breakthrough, the creation of the 'eobiont,' a living organism produced spontaneously from nonliving matter. The eobiont is Victor's Golem, a new creation of life, and a trespass on Divine authority; thus it should be at the center of Mulisch's fictional web.

Q&A time with the readers.

Posted by on in Email of the day

Q: Why do you like chocolate so much?

A: The answer, clearly, is because I've tasted chocolate.

This place is the pits

Posted by on in words of the day

The Wordnik Word of the Day for August 28, 2012 is


(noun) A rocky place or pit outside the walls of ancient Athens, into which criminals were thrown.

(noun) The abyss; hell.

(noun) Anything that swallows up or devours; the belly; an insatiable glutton or extortioner.

‘Barathrum’ is Latin in origin, and is also the name of a Finnish ‘black doom’ band.


“The gallows” perhaps is the English term most nearly corresponding to the barathrum, as commonly spoken of in the Athenian popular language.

Good places to hide in plain sight

Posted by on in TOP SECRET

Here are some water towers cleverly turned into domiciles. The perfect places to hide out in plain sight, and get those 360 degree views - that way you can keep an eye on all sides. Great positioning!

Click on the images for more.




Neil Armstrong 1930 - 2012

Posted by on in NASA images

Space Medal of Honor

Astronaut Neil Armstrong received the first Congressional Space Medal of Honor from President Jimmy Carter, assisted by Captain Robert Peterson. Armstrong, one of six astronauts to be presented the medal during ceremonies held in the Vehicle Assembly Building, was awarded for his performance during the Gemini 8 mission and the Apollo 11 mission when he became the first human to set foot upon the moon.
Armstrong died on Aug. 25, 2012, at the age of 82.

Image Credit: NASA


Garden of decaying books

Posted by on in Book Recommendations

Check out this garden of decomposing books in Quebec.

We can only hope that some copies of the Secret Series are decomposing in such a beautiful way - and NOT being read!

The garden was designed by Berlin landscape architect Thilo Folkerts of 100 Landschaftsarchitektur and Canadian artist Rodney LaTourelle.

Books were piled up to create walls, rooms and seats which are slowly rotting to become part of the forest.

Click on the images to see and read more (though you won't be reading the books in the garden).


Posted by on in NASA images

By any other name

Posted by on in writerly advice

This question comes in from a Secret reader who also likes to write:

Dear Mr. Bosch. I wrote a book and I have given the characters aliases. I'd like to know, should I also use a pseudonym when I am done writing the book?

Mr. Bosch says, the short answer is:

Using a pseudonym depends on how good the fake names of your characters are. The better they are, the less you need a pseudonym (but still use one). But scrimp in one department and you'll have to overpay in the other.

when stars collide

Posted by on in NASA images

do they have to wait 30 minutes?

Posted by on in words of the day

The Wordnik Word of the Day for August 21, 2012 is


(noun) A bit of bread eaten by those who have been swimming, to prevent shivering or the chattering of their teeth with the cold; a shivering-bite. Also called chittering-crust and chittering-piece.

‘Chittering-bite’ is Scottish in origin.


It was the earliest warm day that spring; some of the boys had ventured a dip among the grey rollers and the heel of a loaf - a discarded chittering-bite - lay in the master's way to his desk.

A list of great YA series

Posted by on in Book Recommendations

Here is a list of great YA series. We always pay extra to keep the Secret Series off of these kinds of lists. We don't want to endanger anyone.

Click on (the fantastic) Encyclopedia Brown for the list maker's top 10. 

Galactic Island

Posted by on in NASA images

Meow this is a Mayor we can all get behind

Posted by on in Bad News

This is a political catastrophe.

Reporting by Amy Friedman

This time, Alaska may have really found a way to fix American politics. The mayor of Talkeetna, Ak. boats sky-high approval ratings, a 15-year winning streak and, with over 6,000 subscribers, more friends than you on Facebook.

His secret? He’s a cat.

Fifteen years ago, the citizens of Talkeetna (pop. 800) didn’t like the looks of their candidates for mayor. Around that same time resident Lauri Stec, manager of Nagley’s General Store, saw a box of kittens and decided to adopt one. She named him Stubbs because he didn’t have a tail and soon the whole town was in love with him.

So smitten were they with this kitten, in fact, that they wrote him in for mayor instead of deciding on one of the two lesser candidates. Mayor Stubbs has held his position ever since.

Many citizens are genuinely happy to allow a kitteh to rule the roost. “He doesn’t raise our taxes—we have no sales tax. He doesn’t interfere with business. He’s honest,” said Stec, who converted her store into a part-time mayor’s office when Stubbs claimed victory. Not even the dogs seem to take issue with their new boss, even though there are reportedly more canines in Talkeetna than there are people. “I’ve never seen a dog mess with him,” a local business owner said.

If only our own resident cat, Cacao, would leave to go start a political career - elsewhere! I'd vote for Cacao to get that thing out of the house.  -Quiche

Amazing Advertising work ... of Dr. Seuss

Posted by on in Email of the day

We all know Dr. Seuss as the writer and illustrator of fantastic children's books. He also did a lot of illustrations for advertisements, in the way only Dr. Seuss could. Click on the image to see some more.

savor this word

Posted by on in words of the day

The Wordnik Word of the Day for August 15, 2012 is

bonne bouche bouche

(noun) A choice mouthful of food; a dainty morsel: said especially of something very excellent reserved to the end of a repast.

‘Bonne bouche’ translates from the French as ‘good mouth.’


The best has been kept to the last, a bonne bouche or savoury to end the banquet: though such a metaphor is a risky one, since it's inadvisable to eat while one is falling about laughing.

The Wordnik Word of the Day for August 14, 2012 is

chrysography lawyer

(noun) The art of writing in letters of gold, practised by the writers of manuscripts in the early middle ages.

(noun) In Greek antiquity, the art of embroidering in gold, of inlaying other metals with gold, and the like.

‘Chrysography’ comes from the Greek ‘kahrysos,’ gold (which also gives us ‘chrysalis’) and ‘graphein,’ write.


Another method of ancient chrysography was this: 'Melt some lead, and frequently immerge it in cold water: melt gold and pour that also into the same water, and it will become brittle; then rub the gold filings carefully with quicksilver, and purge it while it is liquid. Before you write, dip the pen in liquid alum, which is best purified by salt and vinegar.'

It's a code ... sort of

Posted by on in TOP SECRET

This somewhat coded message came in from ... a few different agents we have in the field. See if you can read it.

7H15 M3554G3 53RV35 7O PR0V3 H0W 0UR M1ND5 C4N D0 4M4Z1NG 7H1NG5! 1MPR3551V3 7H1NG5! 1N 7H3 B3G1NN1NG 17 WA5 H4RD BU7 N0W, 0N 7H15 LIN3 Y0UR M1ND 1S R34D1NG 17 4U70M471C4LLY W17H 0U7 3V3N 7H1NK1NG 4B0U7 17, B3 PROUD! 0NLY C3R741N P30PL3 C4N R3AD 7H15.

Copyright © 2010-2013. All rights reserved.  Illustrations by Gilbert Ford