Repeat After Us

I was reading the end-of-semester student essays in the Science as Narrative course I teach when one phrase stopped me. Stopped me as in, I didn’t go on: “Darwin was happy to be tasked with telling a fire by its ashes.” Was it an actual thing, I wondered, this “telling a fire by its ashes”? I […]

Ask Mr. Cosmology

Time again to reach into the “Ask Mr. Cosmology” mailbag and see what readers want to know about . . . The Wonders of the Universe! First up, some questions from the comments portion of the previous installment of “Ask Mr. Cosmology.” Q: Is protest against God morally acceptable? Mr. Cosmology: Unlike Richard, Mr. Cosmology knows better than to venture into […]

Fatherhood: From Here to Eternity

“My father,” I would say, “is older than the universe.” The line has always gotten laughs. It comes at a point in my public talks when I want to convey how comically recent is our current understanding of the universe—so recent that people who were present at the creation still walk among us. I’ve never thought […]

No Exceptions! None! Nowhere! Never! (Or not.)

Cassandra, for Richard: How do we know the laws of physics are universal? Why can’t there be a far-off galaxy where our laws of physics don’t apply? (Is that a really stupid question?) Richard, for Cassandra: We don’t. There can. (It’s not.) Such was Cassie’s contribution to LWON’s first anniversary post last May. As part of […]

The Truth Is Out There: The Planet X Files

Did you know there’s a tenth planet—well, ninth, if you don’t count Pluto—that’s on a collision course with Earth, and the government has built a telescope in Antarctica to monitor its movements, only they don’t want the public to know about this impending doomsday because they don’t want to cause a worldwide panic? It’s true! […]

REAL Mathematicians Unhindered by Laws of Physics

I think this is funny because it explains a problem I’ve had with math all along, which is that  math just makes stuff up:  makes up number, and space between numbers, and relations between numbers, and I’m not even mentioning zero.  Also I know that the horizon problem went something like, the universe shouldn’t have […]

Getting It Wrong, Not Minding One Bit

As soon as I got over the fainting spell from looking at the Planck satellite’s map – and if you haven’t seen it, look now, faint, and then click – showing the Milky Way, I had a burning question. Okay, true, the Planck satellite wasn’t intended to map the Milky Way.  It was supposed to […]