Page 54. " Illustration: Face on screen "

Stephen Hawking
Public DomainStephen Hawking - Credit: NASA
This is Stephen Hawking:

If we do discover a complete theory, it should be in time understandable in broad principle by everyone...Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists, and just ordinary people be able to take part in the discussion of why we and the universe exist.




Page 55. " Illustration: Man holding Skull "

This is a still from the 1948 film production of William Shakespeare's Hamlet, with Laurence Olivier in the title role.

In Act V scene 1, Hamlet returns home to Denmark and happens upon two gravediggers.  They are clearing space for a new body, and unearth the bones of Elsinore's old court jester, Yorick.  This prompts one of Hamlet's finest speeches:

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rims at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now? your gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar? 


The image of Hamlet contemplating the skull in his hand is now so iconic that even Arnold Schwarzegger has parodied it (Last Action Hero).  Pianist Andre Tchaikowsky bequeathed his skull to the Royal Shakespeare Company for use in the scene, and it starred opposite David Tennant in the 2008 production.

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace takes its title from this speech.

Oskar plays the role of Yorick's skull, which is to say hardly a role at all!

Page 56. " Illustration: Paper Plane Design "


Paper planes are sometimes referred to as aerogami, a play on the Japanese art of paper sculpture, origami. Da Vinci is sometimes credited with being the inventor of the paper plane, though this is disputed. There are scores of designs for ways to fold a paper airplane, and step-by-step guides available as videos.  

Page 66. " Illustration: Hominids "


Human evolution
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeHuman evolution - Credit: M.Garde

These models of mankind's earliest human relatives are displayed in the American Museum of Natural History. The models are based on fossilised footprints and bones found in Kenya by the Leakeys. These fossils were critical to our understanding of human evolution


Page 67. " Illustration: Astronaut "

Public DomainAstronaut - Credit: NASA

If you have ever wondered how to become an astronaut you can study NASA's requirement here.  Only China, Russia and  the USA have space programs which can launch manned flights.

Page 74. " Je suis "

Oskar is conjugating the French verb être (to be)

Page 75. " in Turkish Labor Camp "
The Turkish War of Independence
GNU Free Documentation LicenseThe Turkish War of Independence - Credit: Youngottoman

The anonymous writer of the censored letter would have been interned during the Turkish War of Independence

Following the WWI Allied defeat of the Ottoman Empire in 1918, the Allies occupied Istanbul, and divided up former Ottoman possessions in the Middle East between themselves.  When Greek troops claimed Western Anatolia, Ottoman resistance quickly built, with the Turkish national movement in the forefront, led by Gallipoli hero Mustafa Kemal.  The resistance developed into a war, which lasted until 1922 when the occupying armies were expelled.  The Ottoman sultanate was abolished, and the new Republic of Turkey was formed, with Mustafa Kemal - renamed Atatürk (Father of Turkey) - as its first President.