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 […]

There Goes the Sun

During a total eclipse of the sun, the landscape darkens. But you knew that. What you might not know—what I didn’t know, anyway, when I observed a total solar eclipse on August 11, 1999—is that the experience comes with a lot of other sensory overload. I found myself thinking about that total eclipse while reading about the one […]

Redux: The Beginning of the End of Science

Some things never change. And sometimes the things that never change still somehow change for the worse. This post originally ran on January 5, 2011—an anti-science era that now seems almost quaint. Those were the days! I blame David Letterman. Less than a month before the 2000 U.S. Presidential election, one of the guests on his show was the governor of Texas, George W. Bush. […]

Bad Science Poet

Time for a further sampling from the journals of Bad Science Poet. Remember: “It’s not the science that’s bad—it’s the poetry!”™ ODE TO AN ANTARCTIC FRIEND Penguin, oh penguin, you’re so black and white. Your colors remind me of both day and night. For six months a year you live without light, Like butter inside a fridge that’s […]

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 […]

11:59:59:59:59:59:59….

In the 1992 documentary A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking describes what we would see if we were observing an astronaut nearing a black hole’s event horizon—the barrier beyond which gravitation is so great that not even light can escape. He invites us to imagine that the astronaut is wearing a watch, and that […]

Hiding in Plain Out-of-Sight

If you haven’t seen the movie Interstellar, you might not recognize the image above. It’s the black hole that figures prominently in the climax. But even if you have seen the movie, chances are excellent you still don’t know what you’re looking at. I didn’t, anyway, at least the first few days I spent staring at […]