Guest Post: The Philosopher’s Table

In the summer of 1968, my thirty-something parents bought a 48-inch-diameter round oak pedestal table from an antique furniture dealer in Union, N.J. The moment the table assumed its new position in the kitchen of Solomon and Sylvia’s Victorian home in nearby South Orange, it asserted itself as the center of gravity of the house. […]

Redux: Storia

If you know a non-English European language, you probably know that “history” and “story” are often the same word.  I don’t know how this happened but it seems deeply wrong.  I was outraged. At the least, it seems to undermine the authority and credibility that history claims, as opposed to the making-shit-up that stories do. […]

Sid Drell, 1926 – 2016, Whom We Still Needed

Last Wednesday, December 21, Sidney Drell died.  I can’t imagine anyone called him anything except “Sid.”  He was 90.  He was a particle physicist who for a while was deputy director of the Stanford Linear Accelerator.  He had a persistent South Jersey accent which somehow seemed to go with his attitude that nothing was too […]

The Ghost of Old Mom

Any suburban teenager can tell you that rumors live and die in the over-lit hallways of malls. How many times was I dumped outside a Wet Seal? None, because I was not popular enough to have boyfriends in high school. But plenty of other people were! Anyway, you know what I mean. Malls are the […]

Experiment Regarding a Garage

I’ve been reading a history book, this one on a subject with so little documentation it needs to rely on eyewitnesses remembering what happened 10, 30, 50 years before.  Which, honest to God, why would you even bother? Science insists over and over and over, eyewitness testimony isn’t reliable – it’s influenced by stress, it […]

Stranger in a Foreign Land

I know this guy. He’s a good guy – hard working, wants to do right by his wife and kid – but somehow he’s found himself in an unusual position in the debate over US/Mexico immigration. This fellow adores his home country but also has a healthy sense of wanderlust. Yes he loves his countrymen and his family […]

Anastomosing Rabbit Holes

I’m having trouble with a story.  First I went down one rabbit hole (the effects, on both sides of the Atlantic, of the Irish Potato Famine) until it branched into two (now-dead towns, one in Maryland, one in Ireland), and then I went down both.  You can picture me heading down one, scrambling back up, […]

On Getting From “Wow!” to “[yawn]”: Yes!!!

A few weeks ago I was talking to one of the founders of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), the collaboration that last September made the first detection of gravitational waves. Even if you’re not science-savvy, you will almost certainly recall the worldwide breathless news coverage following the February announcement of that detection. Now Rainer Weiss, MIT […]