Physics

Adventures in Ethics and Science

Category archives for Physics

I had my kids with me at my office and needed to keep them occupied for a small chunk of time while I attended to business. The younger offspring immediately called dibs on the “Celebrating Chemistry” markerboard. The elder offspring, creeping up on 9 years old, asked plaintively, “What can I do?” I scanned my…

Since March is Women’s History Month, I thought it might be appropriate to recognize some women who were a part of my history — namely, the women who taught me chemistry and physics. (This shouldn’t be interpreted as a slight against the women who taught me biology — I simply don’t remember them as well…

Following up on the earlier discussion here and at Chad’s about the “fundamental difference” between chemistry and physics, I wanted to have a look at a historical moment that might provide some insight into the mood along the border between the two fields. It strikes me that the boundaries between chemistry and physics, as between…

Over at Uncertain Principles, Chad Orzel tries to explain the fundamental difference between physics and chemistry: My take on this particular question is that there’s a whole hierarchy of (sub)fields, based on what level of abstraction you work at. The question really has to do with what you consider the fundamental building block of the…

This New York Times op-ed, to be precise. My questions for Paul Davies can be boiled down to these two: What kinds of explanations, precisely, are you asking science to deliver to you? Just why do you think it is the job of science to provide such explanations?

Chad and Rob have already noted this piece of news about soon-to-be-published research indicating that the order in which high school students are taught physics, chemistry, and biology makes very little difference to their performance in science classes at the college level, while a rigorous math curriculum in high school gives their college science performance…

In part I of the interview, my mother described what it was like to be propelled by her dream of being an astronomer from being at home with four children to being in an undergraduate physics classroom and finding a serious mentor. Part II: Out of the comfort zone and into the graduate program:

An important part of the practice of science is not just the creation of knowledge but also the transmission of that knowledge. Knowledge that’s stuck in your head or lab notebooks doesn’t do anyone else any good. So, scientists are supposed to spread the knowledge through means such as peer reviewed scientific journals. And, scientists…

In a guest-post at Asymptotia, Sabine Hossenfelder suggests some really good reasons for scientists to communicate with non-scientists — and not just to say, “Give us more research funding and we’ll give you an even smaller iPod.” She really gets to the heart of what’s at stake:

Dear Santa, I know this is short notice, but only this week, while talking with my better half about matter, I thought of something so wonderful that I hope you’ll be able to leave it in my stocking this year.