Drugs, Trials and a Little Bit of History Repeating

I can’t help but notice that placebos have crept into the political news in recent weeks. Okay, maybe they aren’t in the headlines but they’re there, just below the surface. That’s because when you see a headline about the Food and Drug Administration, you should immediately start thinking of placebos. The Trump administration hasn’t named […]

Guest Post: The Philosopher’s Table

In the summer of 1968, my thirty-something parents bought a 48-inch-diameter round oak pedestal table from an antique furniture dealer in Union, N.J. The moment the table assumed its new position in the kitchen of Solomon and Sylvia’s Victorian home in nearby South Orange, it asserted itself as the center of gravity of the house. […]

Experiment Regarding a Garage

I’ve been reading a history book, this one on a subject with so little documentation it needs to rely on eyewitnesses remembering what happened 10, 30, 50 years before.  Which, honest to God, why would you even bother? Science insists over and over and over, eyewitness testimony isn’t reliable – it’s influenced by stress, it […]

The Monument that Montreal Swallowed

When I travel outside the US, I use an app called OffMaps. It loads up a map of whatever city you chose onto your phone, so even without service I can at least have some sense of where I’m going. There are lots of apps that do this, and probably ones that do it better […]

A Moore’s Law Mystery

You know those things that people say as an aside? Things that aren’t their main point, but just kind of come out of their mouths. Fun facts, little anecdotes, steam of consciousness blips. I find that when I’m looking back at my notes from conferences, the things that pop out to me are, largely, those […]

Story, History, Story

Ann:   Some time ago, I got interested in why European languages so often use the same word for “story” and “history.”  Every English speaker knows that having one word for two such different things — fiction and truth, respectively — is anathema.  But my thinking didn’t go much farther than that, it rarely does.  So […]

Behind the Curve

The Keeling Curve—the sawtoothed upward slope of atmospheric carbon-dioxide concentrations—may be the world’s most famous scatter plot. The data that form the curve have been accumulating since the 1950s, when scientist Charles David Keeling set up his instruments at a geophysical observatory high on Mauna Loa, one of the massive volcanoes that form the Big […]