Science Metaphors (cont.): Resonance

My mother was an old lady, she’d lived a good and useful life, and she died a year and ten days ago.  I hadn’t been keeping track of her death’s anniversary but I didn’t need to; I only had to figure out why I was walking around feeling, for no good reason, sad.  One of […]

The Last Word on Nothing, Junior Edition

As the parent of a three-year-old, I spend a lot of time reading kids’ books. Some are wonderful, a lot are so-so, and a few are so frigging annoying that — I confess — I hide them. I always expect to like science-themed books — this is my kind of brainwashing, I think — but […]

Science Metaphors (cont.): Running Open Loop

In the continuing quest to find meaning in life, or if not meaning, at least a few good rules, I turn as usual to science.   Science offers the phrase, “running open loop.” Open loop is an engineering term meaning a system that runs without feedback, without a self-governor, without correcting itself.   A closed-loop sprinkler system […]

Bad Actors + Science Metaphor (cont)

I’ve kept an eye on neutrinos ever since I heard, back in the mid-1980’s, that not enough of them were coming out of the sun; this sounded serious.  It turned out that the sun was behaving itself but the neutrinos weren’t.  On its way out of the sun, any given neutrino was changing into three […]

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 […]