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On Exclusivity

Yesterday’s frat boy post prompted some interesting discussion, one piece of which is a response from Matt “Dean Dad” Reed (also at Inside Higher Ed), who overlapped with me at Williams for a year, but had a very different reaction to the social scene there. His take mirrors mine from the other side, though, which…

Uncertain Dots, Episode A

In which we hit double digits, in base ten, anyway. This was mostly about teaching stuff, because I’m between terms, in that weird reflect-on-the-last term/ prep-for-the-next-term space. With a digression about training wheels, which are good as an analogy, but less good for actually learning to ride a bike…

Uncertain Dots, Episode 9

In which Rhett and I chat about the hot new discovery of primordial gravitational waves (maybe) very briefly before segueing into talking about LIGO, and Cosmos, and why “theory” is a terrible word, and the memorization of constants, and standardized tests, and time-lapse videos. You know, as one does. Miscellaneous items: — I’m a little…

The Real Pi Day(s)

Today is March 14th, 3/14 in the normal American way of writing dates, so you’ll find a lot of silliness on the web today talking about “π Day” due to the coincidental similarity with the first three digits of π (see, for example, Rhett’s annual post). But, of course, this is an archaic and local…

Communication as Art and Science

I alluded to this on Twitter, and meant to leave that be, but the other thing I was going to blog today didn’t come together, and I probably shouldn’t leave a cryptic tweet as my only comment. So… One of the links getting passed around a lot in my social-media circles is this Tumblr post…

Uncertain Dots, Episode 8

In which Rhett and I talk about Cosmos. What, you thought there would be another topic? We have contractual obligations, you know… Okay, there were some other topics like Battlestar Galactica (both versions), why so much of what’s on Discovery Channel and TLC sucks these days, the flawed astrophysics of Firefly, speculation about how those…

Uncertain Dots, Episode 7

In which we move out of the original trilogy, and into J.J. Abrams territory. Cue the lens flare! This week’s random assortment of topics includes travel, airports, physics models of loading and unloading planes, uses and abuses of curve fitting, odd stuff we get sent to review, and high-speed video cameras. Miscellaneous links: — Rhett’s…

Friday Miscellany

I got book edits this week, gave an exam on Thursday, and pre-registration for our spring term classes is just beginning, so I have a parade of students begging to get into this course or that one to deal with. So I have no more time for detailed blogging, but will do a bit of…

Uncertain Dots, Episode 6

This week’s episode of Uncertain Dots is, if anything, even more free-form than previous weeks, including a brief cameo from one of Rhett’s kids: Topic covered include the arrangement of faculty offices, the relative lack of demos for E&M (compared to mechanics, where there are endless videos to analyze, etc.) a little bit about science…

Science Journalism vs. Sports Journalism

Over at Backreaction, Bee takes up the eternal question of scientists vs. journalists in exactly the manner you would expect from a physicist: she makes a graph. Several of them, in fact. It’s generally a good analysis of the situation, namely that scientists and journalists disagree about how to maximize information transfer within the constraints…