AG: The Lucasian Throne

1) The Lucasian throne is the Lucasian Chair, a funded and highly honored academic position at Cambridge University that is famous, partly because it’s currently held by Stephen Hawking and partly because its first holder was Isaac Newton.  2) Who, as you know, invented/discovered the law of gravity.  Translating that equation up there, the force […]


From “On Being the Right Size,” by J.B.S. Haldane:  “You can drop a mouse down a thousand-yard mine shaft; and on arriving at the bottom, it gets a slight shock and walks away.  A rat is killed, a man is broken, a horse splashes.” Recently, a couple of my friends have fallen.  One, a woman, […]

The Pursuit of Balance

My neighborhood, as I’ve mentioned, is an interesting place: At our weekly potlucks, we speculate on everything from the number and sex of the next batch of goat kids (money’s on two girls) to the efficacy of bourbon as mouthwash (not promising, sadly). Last week, a guest announced that he was on his way to a […]

Abstruse Goose: Dangerous

I was going to explain the connection between gravity, general relativity, and time.  But I understand less than half of it and anyway, that’s not what our boy AG is really talking about here.   He’s talking about coming to grand conclusions based on understanding less than half of something.  And the guy he’s quoting, […]

Matter In the Universe, At Present

This is the universe at present.  You’re seeing not the light but the dark — you knew that most of the universe’s matter is dark, right? — and its motions.  Not until the far right end are you seeing the light.  Go ahead and clickety click all over this; zoom it in and out, drag it around. […]

Groundwater and Gravity

4/20:   I write an email to a scientist.   I explain that I work in an old building that sits in a sort of pit, partly surrounded by a hill.  Midway along the hill is a little terrace on which is a street, and along the street, a sidewalk and a wire fence; and they’re all […]

Blammo! Yay! Lists!

One year ago today, the People of LWON published their first post. It was by Josie Glausiusz, it was on flesh-eating algae, and we thank her for setting that tone. Writing LWON — that is, writing what we want to and in the way we want to write it — turns out to be a […]

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 […]