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Bulent Atalay

of Author, National Geographic Books; author, Smithsonian Books; Professor. UMW and UVA.

www.bulentatalay.com

Bulent Atalay, a scientist, artist and author, has been described by NPR, PBS and the Washington Post as a “Modern Renaissance Man.” He is the author of two successful books on the intersection of art, science and mathematics, with Leonardo, the pre-eminent Renaissance man, serving as the foil. His best selling book, "Math and the Mona Lisa," (Smithsonian Books, 2004) has appeared in 13 languages. Professor Atalay's academic background is in theoretical physics. He travels around the world lecturing at academic institutions and on cruise ships on the "A-subjects," art, archaeology, astrophysics, atomic physics and Ataturk, confessing that he knows much less about the "B-subjects," business, banking, biology and botany...

He is the President of the Ataturk Society of America (ASA), dedicated to promoting Ataturk's ideals of science and reason over dogma and superstition, of a secular state with full equality of genders. For more details click on Bulent Atalay

The Geyser in Geysir (Iceland)

It was a cold and blustery October day! Our tour bus had stopped at a desolate site where a group of visitors had lined up, cameras at the ready, all anxiously waiting. Then suddenly it happened! Perhaps by now you’ve guessed what these people were waiting for. Right after I took this photo, I rushed…

Low Tide at Guernsey

Giant’s Causeway of County Antrim

The tale of the two giants… According to Irish mythology, there once lived a pair of giants, Finn McCool (or Fionn Mac Cumhaill) in Northern Ireland and Benandonnar across the channel in Scotland. The two giants were aware of each other, and loathed each other, especially since their countrymen held them up as their respective…

Rest in Peace, Mr. Williams

In 1988 Peter Weir, the legendary Australian film director, approached the officials of St. Andrew’s School in Middletown, Delaware and asked for the rights to make a film at the school. He explained, “We’ve visited school campuses up and down the East Coast and we were most impressed by St. Andrew’s.” But the screenplay involved…

A Defining Statue of Ataturk

On December 5, 2013 Nelson Mandela died, one of the most successful fighters for social justice in history. Cut from the same cloth as Mahatma Gandhi, he helped to liberate his nation from racial and colonial oppression, and went on to unify his nation. Mandela had started his decades of struggles as a militant, though…

Secular Democracy and Turkey

June 2013 was not a good month for secular democracy in Turkey! The United States was founded 237 years ago by group genius, by the likes of Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, Madison… all children of the Enlightenment, along with one military hero who became the symbolic “Father of the Nation.” In distinction the modern Turkish Republic…

LEONARDO’S BRIDGE: Part 3. “Vebjørn Sand and Variations on a Theme by Leonardo”

Vebjørn Sand is a contemporary Norwegian artist, who divides his time between the United States and Norway. In 1996, in viewing a special exhibition of drawings and replicas of Leonardo’s inventions, Mr. Sand became transfixed by the shear beauty and modernity of a bridge the Renaissance master had sketched in a notebook — a bridge…

LEONARDO’S BRIDGE: Part 2. “A Bridge for the Sultan”

I once heard of a tradition in Turkey that Leonardo was invited to Istanbul to paint a portrait of “Mehmed the Conqueror” (Fatih Sultan Mehmet) but was unable to accept the commission. No documentation exists to corroborate this story. But there is manifest evidence of Leonardo’s contemporary, the Venetian painter Gentile Bellini, journeying to Constantinople…

LEONARDO’S BRIDGE: Part 1. “The Master of all Trades”

Leonardo (1452-1519) created no more than 17 paintings during his lifetime. This part-time artist, who created the two most famous paintings in the history of art, was a consummate scientist-engineer, imbuing his art with science, and his science with art. Although he had virtually no formal education, he possessed relentless curiosity, which in combination with…

Nine Days in August 1945

On August 6, 1945 the United States detonated the first nuclear weapon over another country — dropping a fission device on Hiroshima — and just three days later, dropped a second bomb on Nagasaki. The first wiped out 90% of its target and resulted in approximately 80,000 immediate deaths, the second in approximately 40,000 deaths.…

Einstein’s letter to Ataturk’s Turkey

  A video prepared by Çankaya University in Ankara gives the historical background to the letter. According to the narrative (in Turkish) in 1949 Einstein meets a young foreign student, Münir Ülgür, at Princeton. When he learns that Ülgür is a student from Turkey, he shows visible excitement, “Do you know,” he says, “…your nation…

EINSTEIN AND ATATURK (Part 1)

This story represents the intersection in the lives of two of my lifelong heroes. First there is Albert Einstein, the greatest scientist since Isaac Newton, and Time Magazine’s choice for “The Individual of the 20th Century.” As a professor of physics for four decades I have been intimately involved with almost every component of his…

NASA PART II. MANNED SPACE FLIGHT — “A breath taking success…”

“That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” — Neil Armstrong With the retirement of the Shuttle Discovery, the manned space program of NASA — just one of half-a-dozen components of NASA’s mission — effectively went into dormancy, at least in as far as the use of American booster rockets in…

NASA PART I. “THE PASSING OF AN ERA: THE RETIREMENT OF THE SPACE SHUTTLE”

NOTE: I am interrupting a series of blogs that I’ve been writing about Einstein, in order to write a few on NASA, on the occasion of the retirement of the Space Shuttle Program. Ten days apart NASA treated us to a pair of spectacular aerial shows, first over the monuments of Washington, DC, and then…

EINSTEIN Part II: A Bundle of Contradictions

  Albert Einstein, whose name has become synonymous with “genius,” was a complex man, a virtual bundle of contradictions. The ultimate intellectual rebel, he demonstrated a level of intuition and imagination beyond any mathematical scientist since Isaac Newton. He was a very good mathematician, but not a mathematical genius in the mode of Newton, who…