Redux: Finding Peter Ganz

This first appeared in December 19, 2013.  I run it again now because I’ve been reading David C. Cassidy’s new book, Farm Hall and the German Atomic Project of World War II, subtitled, “A Dramatic History.”  Cassidy is an historian of physics, so the “history” part of the subtitle is not unexpected.  But he also […]

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 […]

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 […]

Tepid Feelings about Neutron Clashes

Newbie journalists love to ask where seasoned journalists find their story ideas. I’ll tell you where I find mine: Editors. They have really good ideas and sometimes they’ll just hand them to you. That’s called an assignment, and I take a lot of them. Unfortunately, LWON doesn’t give assignments. So when you sign up for […]

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

Yesterday the Royal Swedish Academy announced that the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics would recognize the discovery of gravitational waves; the recipients would be Barry Barish, Kip Thorne, and Rainer Weiss, three of the visionaries who shepherded the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) through four decades of technological and bureaucratic innovations. (Another founder of the […]

Redux: Giving History the Finger

At a thousand words, this picture would be way undervalued. But there it was, waiting to be taken (the picture, that is, not the object). So I took, during a visit to Florence, and I wrote, in 2014, and I redux, here, because some images you just can’t get out of your head. The middle […]

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 […]

What We Talk About When We Talk About Intelligent Life

Two weeks ago, while sitting on the floor building a puzzle with my toddler, I heard a window-rattling thud. I figured it was the neighbor’s soccer ball hitting the glass door again, so I got up feeling somewhat ticked. When I looked out the window, the first thing I saw was an absolutely apoplectic male […]