Loving Explosions

Years ago, talking about the persistent rumor that the Hubble Space Telescope was an off-the-shelf spy satellite retrofitted for astronomy*, I told a NASA employee that I was pretty sure academic astronomers were culturally anti-military and they wouldn’t be crossing lines and dealing with spies or the defense department.  The NASA employee looked at me […]

The Last Word

November 6 – 10, 2017 Somebody killed a wolf named OR 28.  Is this to be seen in the context of populations and therefore a slight matter? Is this to be seen in the context of individuals and their families and therefore a terrible thing?  Emma presented the argument, didn’t take sides. The Humanities 110 […]

The Last Word

October 23 – 27, 2017 Guest Rebecca Boyle takes issue with Cassie’s attitude about neutron star mergers.  Argument sounds a little abstruse but it ends in humane charm: “I’ll stay on Team Neutron Star, and you can watch from the sidelines, and we’ll still be friends.” Craig finds a woman attractive, reflects that not all #MeToo’s […]

Redux: Johnny and Oppie

So.  Everybody got excited about gravitational waves coming from the mergers of neutron stars and black holes.  My Facebook feed which is full of scientists and science writers got further excited about a newish phrase everybody used, “multimessenger astronomy.”  My Facebook feed agreed that “multimessenger astronomy” is an all-around dreadful phrase.  Not only does it sound corporate and […]

GRANDMOTHER? Really? and Subsequent Thoughts

Last week I had a couple of snakebit days, the kind that are my fault entirely – like leaving (almost) the house with no makeup and no shoes.  On one of these days I took a package to an UPS store, found out I would pay $50 to send a $50 present, decided what the […]

Arguing with the Finkbeiner Test

Apparently we’re feminine/ist this week, or so far Emma and I are.  I want to argue about the Finkbeiner Test.  The test began with a heroic vow:  I would write a profile of a woman scientist without the clichés that litter these profiles.  The test took off when Christie wrote a post about my post […]

The Last Word

September 11 – 15, 2017 Guest Rebecca Boyle had been studying up, anticipating the eclipse for months. On the day of, she suddenly thinks, “What if it turns out to be boring?”  She needn’t have worried. (And this might be the place to add: an older astronomer who’s seen everything the sky has to offer, […]

Corvid Redux Week: An Argument About Crows

This first ran March 9, 2011.  I haven’t changed my mind.  Crows take care of each other, talk constantly, have their enemies lists, are smart, are wicked, and remind me a lot of the rest of us.“Light thickens, and the crow makes wing to the rooky wood.”  MacBeth is talking, telling his wife it’s a […]