August 10, 2012
The Rule of 23 is "Scientists cannot count."
I was just roaming around the Kindle store, wondering whether any of the books of my youth were available, and noticed that Heinlein's Beyond this Horizon is now Kindlized. So it just got downloaded, and I'm reading it again for the first time in maybe 20 years.
I just reached the conversation between Mordan and Felix, where Heinlein tosses in some background about genetics. And he tosses off the fact that everyone has 24 pairs of chromosomes.
That was the scientific orthodoxy for a long time. Then, one time, someone was looking at a dyed slide of human cells reproducing and started counting chromosome pairs -- and only could find 23 pairs. So they looked at a different cell, and 23 there, too.
In fact, it turned out that the number 24 was a mistake. Hence the rule.
Frankly, I'm glad they didn't update this book. It really ought to stay the same, scientific mistakes and all.
And I really wish they'd Kindlize The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.
UPDATE: While I'm at it, I also wish they'd Kindlize Clarke's The City and the Stars.
UPDATE: Here's another one:
Thorgsen hesitated a moment before replying. "You've seen the ballistic planetarium at Buenos Aires?"
"No, I haven't. I know about it, of course."
"It's a beautiful thing! Think of it, maan -- a machine to calculate the position of any body in the solar system, at any time, past or future, and give results accurate to seven places."
And now we know that can't be done.
Posted by: Boviate at August 11, 2012 04:33 AM (L1IVj)
You should be able to get The City and the Stars for Kindle on amazon.co.uk. (I've had to look there for some things before when amazon.com decides Australia is beyond the pale.)
Posted by: Pixy Misa at August 11, 2012 08:56 AM (PiXy!)
Enclose all spoilers in spoiler tags:
[spoiler]your spoiler here[/spoiler]
Spoilers which are not properly tagged will be ruthlessly deleted on sight.
Also, I hate unsolicited suggestions and advice. (Even when you think you're being funny.)
At Chizumatic, we take pride in being incomplete, incorrect, inconsistent, and unfair. We do all of them deliberately.
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