Marvin Goldberger, Always Called “Murph”: Part 2

Part 1 is here. While Murph was still at Princeton, in his first years there, he was spending summers consulting, sometimes for defense contractors, sometimes for the Los Alamos National Laboratory.  (A lot of physicists did this: academic scientists’ salaries run for nine months; they needed summer money.)  Then a little later, during the post-Sputnik years, […]

Gotta Have Faith

I’ve been traveling a lot recently. I spent the month of August in China and Vienam, I went to Sweden in October, and of course I’ve been bouncing between my home in Mexico City and the good ol’ US of A. And you know what all this travel has gotten me thinking about? Institutions. I assume […]

Guest Post: Planning to Sprawl

I’ve been teaching undergraduates for a while now, various takes on the general theme of the environment and society.  Here are some things I’ve noticed. The students often believe that they have discovered the environment and all the bad things we are doing in it.  Up to now, they suppose, we have been unaware, self-centered […]

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 the bottle corked.  I think of these physicists as the old arms-controllers. They’re impressive people. […]

Donald Trump Is the World’s Greatest Performance Artist

“For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible.” – Stuart Chase Over the past few months, I’ve vaguely been aware that Donald Trump has been stirring up ideas that vaccinating children causes autism. Trump points out that many kids who get vaccinated also get autism. This is […]

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, […]

The Urban Ocean

Where do you fall on the issue of wind farms at sea? Tidal energy generators? Artificial reefs? Mooring fields? Glass bottles? Old piers? Shipwrecks? Are they junk to be cleared away or are they habitat to be protected? How are they to be categorized, and at what stage in their “useful” lives do they become […]

Why Archeologists Hate Indiana Jones

The jungles of the Peten are hot and sweaty. Most of the best places for archeology are. Field seasons are especially hot, since they are always during the driest time of year so that the site doesn’t get flooded. Howler monkeys boom from the parched trees, which barely twitch during the windless days. Meanwhile, pasty grad […]