Science Metaphors (cont.): Standard Candle

Nothing is entirely trustworthy.  Friends are inconstant; presidents and professors are making it up; your grandmother didn’t always know what she was talking about; your very senses can fool you; and one of these fine days even the sun will blow up. Where is the touchstone, the standard, the fundamental reference frame? Where is the […]

Science Metaphors (cont.): Mantle Drag

The older I get, the more people I know who have lost what they could not afford to lose.  I’ll repeat:  lost means gone, unrecoverable, not coming back; and what these people lost, they still need and want.  The problem is nearly universal and has no obvious solution, or rather, the solution is idiosyncratic and […]

Science Metaphors (cont.): Sigma & Faith

I’m riddled with anxieties and have no faith whatever.  My book is dopey and nobody’s reading it and I have no ideas for another one.  Print publishing is dying anyway.   And the deader it gets, the less likely it is to publish anything I write, even if I did have an idea.   I could […]

Science Metaphors (cont.): Metastable

Metastable:  Down the block, along the street, is a steep bank on which trees have taken root and grown, slanting off the bank and over the road, balancing their holds in the ground with increasing height and occasional high winds and of course gravity.  One day sooner or later a good rain slightly liquifies the […]

Science Metaphors (cont.): Sublime

Sublime:  you don’t hear it much except as an adjective meaning really, really good, used the way “divine” or “glorious” “wonderful” are used, just another adjective, nothing to do with divinity or glory or wonder.   But really, sublime describes something that takes you beyond the ordinary — Glenn Gould plays Bach sublimely –  something […]

Science Metaphors (cont.): Critical Opalescence

I’m aging.  I love too many people whose health and wellbeing is too uncertain.  I want to write about too many things, each one requiring too much time and too many brains.  I take on too many assignments and some of the most important are outside my talents and over my head.  I can’t keep […]

Science Metaphors (cont.): Violent Relaxation

Science is not normally in the metaphor business, but occasionally when it crosses the cultural divide between it and the rest of us, it does so via metaphors.  Maybe the most common one is black holes.  To scientists, black holes are singularities so dense, so gravitationally powerful, that nothing falling into them can return.  To […]