The Last Word

April 13-17 Ann on a recent Nature study linking dragons and climate change: “The authors recommend the obvious — increasing research in consumer-friendly fire-resistent clothing — and further suggest that monarchs desist from running around conferring knighthoods.” A sharp-eyed commenter notes publication date. Michelle on a disease affecting couples living in tipis and other small, off-the-grid […]

The Dragons’ Third Stir: the Next Bigge One

In keeping with the brave tradition of gullible, single-source reporting, here’s an astounding science news report.  It ran in the News and Views section of the prestigious journal, Nature, a couple weeks ago, I don’t know how I missed it, and it surely deserved more than the brief flurry of attention it got on Twitter.  […]

The Last Word

April 6 – 10 Have you ever had to endure the smug cocktail party contention that “biology is just chemistry, chemistry is just physics, and physics is just math” (and so all of life is reducible to math)? Abstruse Goose demolishes that glib noise with a thought experiment that reverses the formula. Michael Balter’s brontosaurus story […]

Science Metaphors (cont.): Decompensation

I suspect this isn’t really a science metaphor, but I got caught up in the word. I had a friend who’s married to a hospital doctor, and he brought home many work-related words of interest:  “mother-of-record,” for instance, meant that he wasn’t going to be the one taking cupcakes to their kid’s class in the […]

Another Brick in the Anti-Copernican Wall

The Hubble Fellows are — forgive me — young stars: young PhD astronomers granted the money to go to whatever astronomy-doing place they want to go to and do whatever astronomy they want to do.  And once a year, the Hubble Fellows give public talks about what they’re up to, so any astronomy writer with […]

Flabbergasted By the Real World

I grew up on a small farm and among other creatures, we raised chickens. Every day they had to be fed and watered and their eggs, warm from their bodies, had to be gathered. When the chickens got old enough to stop laying regularly, we’d turn them into stew: we’d kill them and dress them, […]

The Last Word

February 2 – 6 Ann gave us a posthumous profile of Charles Hard Townes, whom you can thank for astronomers being able to peer inside the centre of the Milky Way, and for conscientious physicists advising the US Defense Department without being muzzled. Fancy a moth in maroon velvet? Grotesque ripple-lines? Giddy exclamation points and […]

Charles Hard Townes Made Things Happen

Charles Hard Townes died a week ago, aged 99.  He was a physicist at Berkeley who came up with the principle of the laser; at age 98, he’d stopped coming into the office every day. His obituaries are thorough and their praise is justified.  I’d met him for reasons the obituaries don’t mention.  He helped […]