Physical Science

“Astronomers are greatly disappointed when, having traveled halfway around the world to see an eclipse, clouds prevent a sight of it; and yet a sense of relief accompanies the disappointment.” -Simon Newcomb For most of us, news of a total solar eclipse — even though they happen (on average) once every three years — seems…

Another weekend day, another story I’m going to outsource a bit. In this case, to the original scientist, who at the time of his discovery was a 13-year-old schoolboy in Tanzania: In 1963, when I was in form 3 in Magamba Secondary School, Tanzania, I used to make ice-cream. The boys at the school do…

“I’m a man! I’m forty!” -Mike Gundy ‘Twas the weekend before Christmas at Starts With A Bang, and the comments you left ranged from “hooray” to “dang!” There’s much that you like and a bit you abhor, but some things require explaining some more. This past week saw seven posts, crafted with care: Did we just find…

“We are incredibly heedless in the formation of our beliefs, but find ourselves filled with an illicit passion for them when anyone proposed to rob us of their companionship.” -James Harvey Robinson The Universe seems to be full of contradictions. On one hand, everywhere we look — in all directions and at all locations —…

As I endlessly repeat, I’m an experimentalist by training an inclination, so I especially appreciate stories about experimental science. There’s something particularly wonderful about the moment when an experiment clicks together, usually after weeks or months of hard, frustrating work, when things just keep breaking. Of course, sometimes, breaking stuff can be a Good Thing.…

Method and Its Discontents

Given that I am relentlessly flogging a book about the universality of the scientific process (Available wherever books are sold! They make excellent winter solstice holiday gifts!), I feel like I ought to try to say something about the latest kerfuffle about the scientific method. This takes the form of an editorial in Nature complaining…

“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” -Albert Camus This Sunday marks the Winter Solstice: the darkest, longest evening of the year for all the Earth’s northern hemisphere denizens. Sure, you probably know all about Earth’s axial tilt and how the southern hemisphere experiences the summer…

Exploring the Origins of the Universe with Astrophysicist Dr. Erica Ellingson

The ‘Nifty Fifty (times 4)’, a program of Science Spark, presented by InfoComm International, are a group of 200 noted science and engineering professionals who will fan out across the Washington, D.C. area in the 2014-2015 school year to speak about their work and careers at various middle and high schools. Meet Nifty Fifty Speaker Dr. Erica Ellingson…

The winter solstice holidays are a time for family and togetherness, so building off yesterday’s post about the great Marie Skłodowska Curie, we’ll stay together with her family. Specifically her daughter Irène Joliot-Curie and her husband Frédéric. The Joliot-Curies are possible answers to a number of Nobel Prize trivia questions– only mother and daughter to…

Eureka: Radio, Radio

Two radio appearances upcoming as I continue to promote Eureka: Discovering Your Inner Scientist: — Tomorrow, Friday the 19th, I’ll be going down to WAMC around 11am to be on Roundtable, talking with Joe Donahue. This will be live, but fairly short. This is available on a whole host of stations in the not-The-City part…