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 […]

The Wonderful World of Oz…and Science

Lately I’ve been reading my way through the series of Oz books. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is only the first in a series of 14 books, and it’s not remotely the best. It’s fascinating to reread books I loved as a child. Some are still great. Others have inexplicably morphed into poorly-written, preachy duds. […]

Chasing Transits

CELESTE: How long this time? LE GENTIL: How long will I be gone? Three years. I swear to you, Celeste, on everything that’s holy: three years, no more. CELESTE: What if you miss it? LE GENTIL: The transit? I won’t. CELESTE: You missed the last one. Venus (the small dark dot) crosses the Sun. That […]