4630085fec46fc8222729293248360c2df27739dac02851ccdb42f256c4dc5e2Al Hirschfeld(1903-2003)

Al Hirschfeld was born in St. Louis on the first day of summer, 1903. When he was eleven years old, an art teacher informed his mother, “There is nothing more we can teach him in St. Louis.” The family moved forthwith to New York. Soon he was enrolled at the Art Student’s League. Hirschfeld has never had to convince anyone that he’s a genius; it has always been apparent.By the ripe old age of 17, while his contemporaries were learning how to sharpen pencils, Hirschfeld became an art director at Selznick Pictures.

He held the position for about four years and then in 1924 he moved to Paris to work, lead the Bohemian life, and grow a beard. This he has retained – the beard, not the flat – for the past 68 years, presumably because you never know when your oil burner will go on the fritz.In 1943, Hirschfeld married one of Europe’s most famous actresses, the late Dolly Haas. They were married for more than 50 years—in addition, they produced Nina. Nina is their daughter, and Hirschfeld has engaged in the “harmless insanity,” as he calls it, of hiding her name at least once in each of his drawings. The number of NINAs concealed is shown by an Arabic numeral to the right of his signature. Generally, if no number is to be found, either NINA appears once or the drawing was executed before she was born. The NINA-counting mania is well illuminated when, in 1973, an NYU student kept coming back to the Gallery to stare at the same drawing each day for more than a week. The drawing was Hirschfeld’s whimsical portrayal of New York’s Central Park. When the curiosity finally got the best of me, I asked, “What is so riveting about that one drawing that keeps you here for hours, day after day?” She answered that she had found only 11 of 39 NINAs and would not give up until all were located. I replied that the ’39 next to the signature was the year. Nina was born in 1945. (Almost all of Hirschfeld’s lithographs and etchings have NINAs hidden in them, but Hirschfeld makes the pursuit that much more difficult by omitting the number next to the signature.)

It’s interesting, I think, that although Hirschfeld was initially attracted to sculpture and painting, this gave way to his passion for pure line.”Sculpture, he once said to me, is a drawing you trip over in the dark.
I believe that Hirschfeld’s devotion to line comes from yet a more fundamental aesthetic – his respect for absolute simplicity. One day soon after we first met, I asked: “Sometimes you do a drawing inspired by a complex play with elaborate scenery, extravagant costumes, and a cast of thousands – yet the drawing is simple. Other times the play is simple with a straightforward set, and costumes that are street clothes – yet the drawing is complicated. Is it that when you have the time you do a complex drawing and when you’re rushed you do a simple one ?”

“No,” he replied. “When I’m rushed I do a complicated drawing. When I have
the time, I do a simple one.” In 1991, Al Hirschfeld became the first artist in history to have his name on a U.S. Postage Stamp Booklet when the United States Postal Service released the five stamps they commissioned Hirschfeld to design. The stamps portray Laurel & Hardy, Jack Benny, Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy, Abbott & Costello, and Fanny Brice. The stamps were issued in books of 20 – four sets each of the five Hirschfeld designs.(From rogallery.com)

41e0aaab95e9f35150f400566508a9d3In the late Fifties and early 60s one artist I copied with interest was Al Hirschfeld. His illustration that accompanied the theatre section NY times was always a delight to me. He always would incorporate his daughter’s name Nina in his drawings. I alway had fun trying to locate where he had put in.  I remember his illustrations for South Pacific, My Fair Lady, the World of Suzy Wong,Pal Joey etc.


cafe  Cafe terrace at night by Vincent Van Gogh17f1a91e427c77279a2a09a90ef93fa2Avenue de Clichy by Paul Gaugin, 1889

Classical physics implies that anything falling through the horizon of a black hole can never escape. But Hawking showed that black holes continually emit radiation once quantum effects are taken into account. Unfortunately, for typical astrophysical black holes, the temperature of this radiation is far lower than that of the cosmic microwave background and we have no way of proving it. If a black hole continually emits radiation, it will continually lose mass – eventually evaporating. Hawking realized that this implied a paradox: if a black hole can evaporate, the information about it will be lost forever. This means that even if we could measure the radiation from a black hole we could never figure out it was originally formed. This violates an important rule of quantum mechanics that states information cannot be lost or created.

Determinism implies that the state of the universe at any given time is uniquely determined from its state at any other time. This is how we can trace its evolution both astronomically and mathematically though quantum mechanics.

If a black hole can evaporate and information lost how will determinism work? Black hole physics provides a test for any potential quantum gravity theory. Whatever your theory is, it must explain what happens to the information recording a black hole’s history.

It took two decades for scientists and they have come up with an answer. They suggested that the information stored in a black hole is proportional to its surface area (in two dimensions) rather than its volume (in three dimensions). This could be explained by quantum gravity, where the three dimensions of space could be reconstructed from a two-dimensional world without gravity – much like a hologram. See a problem like quantum gravity can disappear if we make the universe is a hologram: the real action would play out where gravity is zero. In regimes where there are no analytic tests a holographic universe replaces actual proof.

In this context we have Maldacena conjecture and it  reconciles Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity and quantum mechanics.

Shortly afterwards, string theory, the most studied theory of quantum gravity was also shown to be holographic.

Using holography we can describe the evaporation of the black hole in the two-dimensional world without gravity, for which the usual rules of quantum mechanics apply. This process is deterministic, with small imperfections in the radiation encoding the history of the black hole. So holography tells us that information is not lost in black holes, but tracking down the flaw in Hawking’s original arguments has been surprisingly hard.

Which came first? chicken or egg? Maldacena conjecture in this case makes chicken the hologram projection of egg where gravity is zero. Conversely shall we say chicken is the hologram projection of an egg in another time zone?

In a 4-D world of chickens , the eggs are entangled only in a flattened 3-D scaled down version of reality. Both are present.( cf.universe as a hologram)

(Ack: The Conversation June 24, 2015 -Don’t fear falling into a black hole – you may live on as a hologram- Prof.Marika Taylor/ in theoretical physics at Uni. of Southampton)


Astrophysical journal of the 20th century was agog with Einsteins’ general theory of Relativity and this century is astir with Black holes. In our known universe the idea that no particle can pass faster than light was sacrosanct. Every theory had to fit in order to pass approval. In 2011 was a debate going on about faster-than-light neutrinos. Imagine the notion of the universe having internal boundaries! Only that we have not had any convincing proof to support this quirky idea. It has now been ditched.

What makes a black hole special is its event horizon. If you pass through you are lost forever, in the most complete way, from the universe you left behind. It’s a boundary to the knowable universe. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The claim that the universe has internal boundaries is extraordinary. So what’s the evidence for event horizons? One may point to observations of hot matter around the postulated event horizon and say that matter is at least as far from the horizon as the size of the black hole itself. Einstein’s theory of gravity, describes these hot matter observations well, and if it continues to do so all the way down to the event horizon then black holes exist. But we’ve yet to see evidence for that.

Our theoretical explanations may require the existence of things for which there is no direct evidence. It happens all the time in physics. If you accept the Standard Model of Particle Physics then you probably believe in the Higgs boson even though it took a while in order to prove its existence. Similarly, if you believe general relativity then you probably believe in event horizons.

At best we may conclude the best theoretical model of the observational data implies a black hole. But that model includes general relativity, which we expect does not completely describe black holes, as it predicts a singularity – a point of infinite density and infinitesimal volume, at which space and time become infinitely distorted. Things can become quite weird is it not?

So when you come across the term “infinite” in physics it is more like the white spaces in old maps with a notation, ‘terra incognita’, meaning we have reached the limits of our understanding.

Thanks to Stephen Hawking who jiggered with black hole predicts small event horizons eventually explode due to’Hawking radiation.’

So it’s possible event horizons are where quantum mechanics first requires significant modifications to general relativity. Speculating further, it’s also possible that such modifications would prevent event horizons from forming. That might save us from living in a universe with parts that are unknowable.

‘Black holes are a bit like free will. Irrespective of the evidence, most of us live as if free will exists. And most astrophysicists live as if black holes exist’.

(The Conversation/ Black holes might exist, but let’s stay skeptical-Prof.craig savage, Theoretical Physics- Au.NU/ Nov.29, 2011)

(To be concluded)


The sperm of all 18-year-olds should be frozen for use in later life because of the risks attached with being an older father, Dr Kevin Smith, from Abertay University in Dundee, says. He also adds, ‘ sperm-banking on the NHS should “become the norm”. He is a bioethicist.

Sperm becomes more prone to errors with age, increasing the risk of autism, schizophrenia and other disorders. The British Fertility Society also agrees since such a move would “provide a very artificial approach to procreation”.

Progress of men has made acquisition of things a priority than in number of progeny. There is nothing of a gene push since we have become self indulgent and children of impulses and self gratification. There is no such thing as an Alexander the Great having his four generals to carry on with his grand Hellenism, an idea that changed the course of the world. What can you expect from Tom, Dick and Harry whose only aim in life is Instant gratification?

Men are having children later – the average age of fatherhood in England and Wales has increased from 31 in the early 1990s to 33 now. This must send alarm bells ringing. We are on the edge of a live crater and the volcano may snuff out human race like so many mass extinctions in the past.

Since the last great mass extinction of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago, life on Earth is entering the greatest mass extinction according to a major new study – and humans may be among the casualties. What does that entail? It would leave a huge hole in the world’s ecosystems,- and lemurs, aye-aye, jumping rats on the island of Madagascar are on the precipice of extinction, and so many others. There have been five major mass extinctions in Earth’s history. Scientists predict a Sixth. If we were to compare the time frame of the other five it would not be outside the realm of probability.

So let’s be pessimistic, and assume the apocalypse is going to happen. What does Earth look like afterwards?

The greatest crisis in history

The Permian-Triassic boundary (251m years ago) saw the greatest crisis in Earth’s history, when at least 90% of the species including insects suffered huge losses – the only mass extinction in their long history.

This was attributed to the effects of huge volcanic outpourings of lava and associated greenhouse gases, in what is now northern Russia. This lead to global warming, ocean acidification and acid rain, marine oxygen depletion and poisoning by toxic metals such as mercury. Imagine today’s gloomiest climate predictions, but cranked up a few notches.

The few species that survived gave rise to all life thereafter and there has not been such a profound restructuring of ecosystems since, perhaps because this “survival of the fittest” rendered their descendants more tolerant to global change.

What chance man has since he never branched off into so many sub species or genera?

Man even when the volcano goes out into showers shall have a selfie to make . Only trouble is he may have none to share it with.(ack: The Conversation- How life on Earth recovers after a devastating mass extinction by David Bond-univ. of Hull/ 24 June, 2015; )

Even on the mouth of  an angry volcano my advice for man would be, ‘keep your cool man. Plenty of time to go up in smoke.’


Where man has, alas, ceased to pass the torch,-

For his arched steps have cut the meadows

And play before the motley fools and lure

Widows of their mite to feed an appetite;

Where love itself is sold by giddy glibness

Of mountebanks and is nothing but a habit;

Douse the torch its cold glare is sad tale-

Ne’er shall you rekindle it ,nor lead children of men

To hallowed halls where once virtue stood:

Proud of mien erect on her pedestal

Garlanded and bewitched by men of old,-

It is how the world shall pass

In oblivion and for worms a cold meal.


7109e780fd56b84c54af395f4c49e612Zhang Daqian (Chinese, 1899–1983). Radishes and Mustard Greens, ca. 1965 (Met collection)


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