Jack London and the Misadventures of the California Eucalyptus

In the Fall of 1909, just north of San Francisco, a 33-year-old Jack London was at home on his Glen Ellen, Calif., ranch resting from a decade of traversing the globe in search of The Call of The Wild and other stories to tell.

London sat at his writing desk looking out on his rugged California ranch surrounded by golden hills, Live Oaks, and vineyards. A coastal wind blew East, carrying the scent of salt water from the Pacific Ocean filtered through the forest of Redwood trees and tangled Manzanita.

He typed a letter to his old writer friend — my great grandfather Grant Wallace — about a business deal they were working on:

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Jack LaLanne

jack lalanne

The father of American fitness, Jack Lalanne, passed away this week at the age of 96. It reminded me of the day I met Jack for an interview, about 15 years ago at his home in Morro Bay. I dug out this old slide of us sitting in his living room while I probed him with pointless questions like any green college journalist would. He covered by filling the time with stories about Hollywood’s old guard, or advice on how to stay as healthy as he did with exercise and healthy eating habits.

What a cool guy. I hope they have a big gym and lots of fresh vegetables wherever he’s gone. – Mr. Weekndr

Fact You Should Know: Large Hadron Collider

“…it also could unmask the long-sought Higgs boson particle, one of the most elusive and mysterious objects since the Yeti.”

L.A. Times, Dec. 1, 2009

I had no idea that the Yeti was one of the most elusive and mysterious objects in all of science. Surely the human genome is more mysterious. Or perhaps even water on the moon?

Nonetheless, the  LA Times writes that scientists in Europe this week made a successful test run of the fabled Large Hadron Collider. Like something out of a science fiction film, the super-futuristic “particle accelerator” is being built to “recreate conditions that existed shortly after the Big Bang.”

Here’s how it works: the Hadron Collider sends two proton beams speeding in opposite directions through a 17-mile circular tunnel located 300 feet underground. When the beams collide at near the speed of light, the collision is expected to generate 14 trillion electron volts.

The LA Times surmises that the invention could “produce some of the greatest scientific discoveries of the 21st century.” Critics have feared that if it works it could create a black hole and vaporize the Universe, or something like that.

For these reasons and more, the Large Hadron Collider becomes the first-ever Weekndr Fact You Should Know.