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Uncertain Dots 24

If you like arbitrary numerical signifiers, this is the point where we can start to talk about plural dozens of Uncertain Dots hangouts. As usual, Rhett and I chat about a wide range of stuff, including the way we always say we’re going to recruit a guest to join us, and then forget to do…

Uncertain Dots 23

Our semi-regular video hangout returns. In this episode, I’m wearing a tie, because I gave the department colloquium this week, and for psychological reasons I always dress up a bit to give talks. This was recorded under an hour after my talk, which probably explains why I’m a little more punchy than usual… I’m not…

Metaphors and Style

Two language-related items crossed in the Information Supercollider today: the first was Tom’s commentary on an opinion piece by Robert Crease and Alfred Goldhaber, the second Steven Pinker on the badness of academic writing. All of them are worth reading, and I only have small dissents to offer here. One is that, unlike Tom and…

Uncertain Dots 22

After a long absence due to travel (some of which is discussed), Uncertain dots returns! Rhett and I talk about recent travels, how people going into internet-based physics outreach these days would probably do better to make videos than blog, physics in science fiction, celestial navigation, and as always, our current courses. Some links: —…

Uncertain Dots 21

Our little hangout thing is now old enough to drink, in episode-years anyway, and to celebrate, we finally figured out how to get live audience feedback during the hangout. Which takes the first couple of minutes of the video, because we’re highly trained professional scientists. Once we got that sorted, we talked about a bunch…

Uncertain Dots 20

In which Rhett and I talk about awful academic computing systems, Worldcon, our Wikipedia pages, and AAPT meeting envy. Some links: — Rhett’s Wikipedia entry — My Wikipedia entry — The 2014 AAPT Summer Meeting — LonCon 3, this year’s Worldcon — My puzzling Worldcon schedule We have some ideas for what to do next…

The Fermi Alternative

Given the recent Feynman explosion (timeline of events), some people may be casting about looking for an alternative source of colorful-character anecdotes in physics. Fortunately, the search doesn’t need to go all that far– if you flip back a couple of pages in the imaginary alphabetical listing of physicists, you’ll find a guy who fits…

The Physicists of Journalism

This Alberto Cairo piece on “data journalism” has been kicking around for a while, and it’s taken me a while to pin down what bugs me about it. I think my problem with it ultimately has to do with the first two section headers in which he identifies problems with FiveThirtyEight and Vox: 1. Data…

Uncertain Dots 19

In which our hangout turns nineteen; we may need to look into a special guest for the 20th, or something. Or maybe save guest stars for the one after that, when it can drink. Anyway, Rhett and I chat about grading, lab reports, why Excel sucks, and an online experiment that we really ought to…

Uncertain Dots 18

In which our series of Google hangouts becomes old enough to vote and buy cigarettes– but not drink! Miscellaneous things mentioned in this: — My forthcoming book at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I turned in the copyedits and figures a week or so ago, and cashed an advance check today, so it’s definitely going…