Weapons-Grade Private Enterprise

Over the years, I’ve met a number of physicists who had direct or indirect connections with the Manhattan Project and who then spent the rest of their lives trying to get the nuclear weapons genie back into the bottle and corking it.  I think of these physicists as the old arms-controllers. They’re impressive people. They’re […]

13 Years Later and Still Bracing

When I realized that I was scheduled to post on the 13th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, I decided I should write something about the legacy of that day. I want so badly to find a kernel of hope, but current events leave me with nothing but pessimism. Violence has begotten more violence. Since September 11, 2001, […]

Bad Science Poet

Please join LWON today in welcoming a new occasional contributor, Bad Science Poet. (Motto: “It’s not the science that’s bad—it’s the poetry!”™) MAYBE, MAYBE NOT Is that uncertainty I see? Its position known to only me? Is that uncertainty I hear? Echoing (or not) from ear to ear? Said Heisenberg, “Yes.” Niels Bohr said, “One guess.” And Einstein?  […]

The Berger Inquiry

The normal course of action would have been to collect reports from biologists, anthropologists and sociologists – all hired by the gas company – to assess the environmental, economic and social impacts of the pipeline. But this was to be the largest project ever undertaken anywhere by private enterprise, in the history of the world. […]

Guest Post: Writing a Relationship

About a year ago I sat in the Members’ Room at the Royal Society as Professor Judith Howard FRS, once a doctoral student of Dorothy Hodgkin’s, explained how crystallographers worked in the early days. She showed me how Dorothy would begin by calibrating the black circles in an X-ray diffraction pattern by eye, to begin […]

Giving History the Finger

The middle finger of Galileo’s right hand is a satisfying sight. Not because the resemblance to an obscene gesture is unmistakable (though that’s pretty amusing). And not because such a gesture might suggest that in the end a scientist who suffered persecution for the sin of being correct had gotten the last word—well, two words (though that would be amusing, […]

Abstruse Goose: Game of Thrones = Dragons + War of the Roses

When I can’t sleep, my brain thinks it’s fun to enumerate all the things I’m afraid might happen.  I’ve taken to thinking about the derivations from the same Latin root — application, complication, explication, implication, replication — but sometimes get hung up on not knowing what “plicare” means.  I do think the Yorks and the […]