Pop Culture

Category archives for Pop Culture

Cosmos Reboot Wrap-Up

The Cosmos reboot season finale (or possibly series finale; not sure if they’re trying for a second set of episodes) was last night, but I wasn’t able to take part in the live-tweeting of it thanks to a super-restless Pip who didn’t drop off until 9:30 EDT. I suppose I could’ve waited to start the…

Cosmos and Priorities

While solo-parenting Sunday night, I still managed to get free of The Pip just barely in time to catch the start of Cosmos. This was a strange episode in a couple of ways, chiefly having to do with the selection of topics. For one thing, there’s no small irony in the fact that following a…

One of the very best treatments of the scientific method in fiction that I’ve read– I suspect it may be the best, but years on the Internet make me want to hedge everything– is the Steerswoman series by Rosemary Kirstein. The main character, Rowan, is a Steerswoman, a member of an order dedicated to collecting…

Cosmos and the Sideburns

Last night’s episode of the Cosmos reboot focused on one of the three physicists whose pictures Einstein kept in his office: Michael Faraday. I’m a big fan of Faraday, who famously started his career as a bookbinder’s apprentice reading the books brought into the shop, and ended as one of the greatest experimental physicists of…

Over at Five Thirty Eight, Walt Hickey has a piece about cheerleading as a sport and injury rates, which is both a nice look at the way to use stats to measure the real danger level of an activity, and the sort of small details that can be teased out. The piece includes a table…

What a Circus

Last weekend, the circus came to town, and Grandma and Grandpa came up to help us take the kids. We took SteelyKid a couple of years ago, and figured The Pip was old enough to go this time, too. Having bought tickets a couple of years ago, I got sent a pre-sale offer link, and…

This coming fall term, I’ll be teaching Astronomy 052, “Relativity, Black Holes, and Quasars,” because the guy who has traditionally taught it (a radio astronomer who studies active galactic nuclei) has to do other courses instead. But I said “Well, hell, I’ve written a popular audience book explaining relativity. I can teach that.” And since…

Last week’s talks were using sci-fi space travel as a hook to talk about relativity, and my original idea for the talk was to explain how faster-than-light travel ultimately ends up violating causality. Some observers will see effects happening before the events that cause them, and that’s just weird. In How to Teach Relativity to…

I have a couple of things in the mental queue for this week, but I’m still playing catch-up from my trip to Texas, so instead you get a really quick comment on last night’s Cosmos. This one was all about the history of the Earth– continents moving, climate changing, mass extinctions– stuff that I know…

Space Travel, Einstein, and GPS

Below you’ll find the slides from my Physics Day presentations at Space Center Houston, embedded via SlideShare. I was doing the TED-style minimal text thing, so they’re probably not all that comprehensible on their own. The event was supposed to have a pop-culture connection, so I decided to use space travel and extrasolar planets as…