In the yard where I watch it fall, the rain comes down at several different speeds. In the middle it is a delicate and threadbare curtain (or a net), an implacable but relatively slow descent of quite small drops, a sempiternal precipitation lacking vigor, an intense fragment of the pure meteor. A little away from the walls on each side heavier drops fall separately, with more noise. Some look the size of a grain of corn, others a pea, or almost a marble. On the parapets and balustrades of the window the rain runs horizontally, and on the inside of these obstacles it hangs down in convex loops. It streams in a thin sheet over the entire surface of a zinc roof straight below me—a pattern of watered silk, in the various currents, from the imperceptible bosses and undulations of the surface. In the gutter there, it flows with the contention of a deep but only slightly inclined stream, until suddenly it plunges in a perfectly vertical thread, quite thickly platted, to the ground where it breaks and scatters in shining needles.
Each of these forms has its own particular manner of moving; each elicits a particular sound. The whole thing is intensely alive in the manner of a complicated mechanism, both precise and precarious, like a piece of clockwork in which the activating force is the weight of a mass precipitated from vapor.
The ringing of the vertical threads on the pavement, the gurgling from the gutters, the miniature gong-chimes, multiply and resonate together in a consort which avoids monotony, and is not without delicacy.
And when the pressure is relaxed, some of the clockwork continues to function for a while, getting slower and slower, until the whole machine stops. Then, if the sun comes out again, the whole thing is quite soon effaced—the shiny apparatus evaporates: it has been raining.
"[Science] has no real agenda. What I mean by this is that by its very nature science cannot be forced in any particular direction. The necessarily open nature of science (notwithstanding the secret work carried out in the Cold War and in some commercial laboratories) ensures that there can only ever be a democracy of intellect in this, perhaps the most important of human activities. What is encouraging about science is that it is not only powerful as a way of discovering things, politically important things as well as intellectually stimulating things, but it has now become important as metaphor. To succeed, to progress, the world must be open, endlessly modifiable, unprejudiced. Science thus has a moral authority as well as an intellectual authority."
Here are just some of the words I had to look-up while reading The Road a novel by Cormac McCarthy. The story follows a father and son as they make their way through a scorched and menacing post-apocalyptic American landscape. (Click on words to link to definitions from Dictionary.com.)
I've also appended a list of words from the novel that I haven't been able to find in a dictionary.
1. "Their light playing over the wet flowstone walls." (p. 3)
2. "Like pilgrims in a fable swallowed up and lost among the inward parts of some granitic beast." (p. 3)
3. "The edge of the lake a riprap of twisted stumps, gray and weathered, the windfall trees of a hurricane years past." (p. 13)