Thursday, April 12, 2007

Take 'er Easy There, Pilgrim

Sadly, Kurt Vonnegut passed away last night. Apparently, a recent fall in his Manhattan home caused irreversible brain damage which lead to his death.

There is a very good article from the Associated Press in the SeatlePI today.

I haven't read all of his work but Slaughterhouse-Five is definitely one of my favorites (and if you read only one Vonnegut book, this one should be it) and I enjoyed Cat's Cradle and Breakfast of Champions as well. The funny thing is, it took learning that my favorite author, John Irving, had been a student of Vonnegut's before I actually picked up one of his novels and once I did, I was amazed at how much he was able to convey in a minimal amount of words and angry at myself for taking so long to read such a magnificent writer. If you have yet to experience Vonnegut, any further delay would be a heinous disservice to yourself.

Interestingly, Kurt's brother, Bernard Vonnegut who died in 1997, was an atmospheric scientist who, in 1946, discovered that silver iodide could be introduced into clouds as a nucleating agent in order to create ice crystals which would lead to the production of rain or snow. In other words, Bernard invented 'cloud seeding' which is a practice still in use today. Two really smart guys at opposite ends of the creative spectrum. Bernard's work with cloud seeding was probably the inspiration for Kurt's 'ice-nine' used in Cat's Cradle. Ice-nine was a chemical element that could freeze all water it came into contact with and would only melt at 114 degrees Fahrenheit, which could effectively destroy Earth's water supply.

Hopefully, right now, they're reminiscing about old times.

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