William Pfaff in the New York Review of Books:
The French and Dutch referendum votes against the European constitutional treaty caused many Europeans to be alarmed for European unity itself. This was called the biggest reversal for Europe in fifty years, a revolt against economic reform putting the euro in jeopardy, a “lurch to the left,” a repudiation of Europe’s modernizing elites, the beginning of the end for the European Union. “We who lead Europe have lost the power to make Europeans proud of themselves,” said Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg’s prime minister and current holder of the European presidency.
The rejection is something much simpler. It is a crisis provoked by the expansion of the European Union. It was foreseeable, and was sooner or later inevitable. The French and the Dutch have done the European Union a service by bringing it on now. A Europe of twenty-five members (not to speak of a potential thirty-five, or more) is too big to function as the Europe of Six, Twelve, and even Fifteen has been able to function. It represents a radical break from the EU as it has existed.
Jeff Hecht in New Scientist:
Astronomers have spotted the most distant Einstein ring ever seen. It offers valuable insight both on the galaxy which acts as a gravitational lens and on the more distant galaxy whose light it magnifies.
Gravitational lensing occurs because massive objects – ranging from stars to entire galaxies – distort the fabric of space-time, bending the path of light passing near them. A strong gravitational lens can form multiple images of the distant object, or spread its light into an arc.
If the lens lies directly between Earth and the distant background object, the light can be distorted into a ring, named after Einstein because the effect is described by general relativity.
John Roach in National Geographic News:
What is the universe made of? What is the biological basis of consciousness? How long can the human life span be extended?
These are just some of the as-yet-unanswered scientific questions pondered in tomorrow’s special 125th-anniversary issue of the academic journal Science.
Editor-in-chief Donald Kennedy and news editor Colin Norman tasked their staff to list the most challenging questions in science today and then winnow the number to 25.
To make the cut, questions had to be “tough enough and challenging enough and inviting to people who read them” to inspire readers to think about “what the solution[s] might be,” Kennedy said.
More here. And Levi points out in a comment on this post that Carl Zimmer has links to all 25 essays here, one of which he himself wrote. Thanks, Levi.
Alan Riding in the New York Times:
Strangely perhaps, in a land dominated by the Alps, the countryside around the Swiss capital is shaped by rolling hills that invite nothing more dramatic than unhurried contemplation. And it was this, both mood and look, that Renzo Piano sought to evoke when he added an $86 million museum, the Paul Klee Center, to the orderly Bern landscape.
The results are both striking and discreet. The center’s three round “hills” are etched and molded in a stainless steel that mirrors the sky, while their sloping roofs disappear under a field of barley. Thus the three basic tenets of Klee’s semi-abstract work – line, form and color – are present. And, by chance, a mere 100 yards away is the Schosshalden Cemetery, where Klee is buried.
The center, in a way, is a typical Piano museum, but typical only in that, when planning a museum, Mr. Piano noted, he does not work from a template but instead allows the location and purpose of each project to define the design. And this at least explains how the contrasting styles of, say, the Pompidou Center in Paris, the Menil Collection in Houston and the Paul Klee Center can be the work of the same architect.