“Did they ever meet?” I got the question all the time. People would ask what I was working on, and I would say a book about Einstein and Freud, and then would come the question. Same thing with my next book. People would ask what I was working on, and I would say a book […]

Guest Post: That Eternal Question

One evening during a recent visit to Santiago, Chile, I went to dinner with two colleagues. Afterward, as I descended the stairs of the Metro to cross Providencia Avenue, I saw a young girl, no more than five years old, wrapped in a dirty blanket, sitting on the ground. She was holding out a shoe […]

And the Winners Is

This year’s Nobel Prize in Physics was, in a way, a foregone conclusion. The 1998 discovery by two teams of scientists that the expansion of the universe is accelerating—under the influence of something that scientists have shruggingly come to call dark energy, which later studies have revealed to comprise 72.8 percent of the universe—was one […]

What’s in a Name

The best thing that ever happened to the Big Bang is its name. For scientists, the acceptance of a scientific concept depends on its explanation of existing data, its prediction of observable phenomena, the observation of those phenomena, and the duplication of those results. But for non-scientists—well, for scientists, too—the popularity of a concept can come […]

Bang? Whimper? Whatever.

What is the fate of the universe? Cosmologists are converging on an answer, and it ain’t pretty. Or so I gather from people who, hearing that the latest science favors a universe that goes on forever, growing colder and colder, lonelier and lonelier, ask me, “Don’t you find it depressing?” The short answer is, No. […]

Sez Who?

In 1992 I wrote an article for the New York Times on body doubles—the performers in movies who substitute for stars who aren’t quite buff enough for close-ups or brave enough for nudity. I cited several examples of stars who have used body doubles, including Kim Basinger in My Stepmother Is An Alien and Julia […]

Talking Universe Blues, Part 2

(This post is the second in a three-part series. The first appeared last Friday. The third will appear next Friday.) “What can we do about high school physics textbooks?” The question, I admit, stumped me. Not in the way that a question about whether gravity exists in other universes would stump me. That question I […]

Talking Universe Blues, Part 1

(This post is the first in a three-part series. “Talking Universe Blues” will continue over the next two Fridays.) “Does gravity exist in other universes?” The question, I admit, stumped me. Did she—fourth row, on the aisle—mean that gravity might be leaking into our universe from a parallel universe? Unlikely. Her puzzled, perhaps lost, expression didn’t […]