Astronomy

Category archives for Astronomy

It’s taken me a disgracefully long time to finish the review copy of Lee Billings’s Five Billion Years of Solitude I was sent back in the fall, mostly because I didn’t read anything not immediately related to the book-in-progress for most of November and all of December. Which is to say, the long delay is…

Work-Life Juggling, Then and Now

A couple of Mondays ago, I was at work and got the dreaded phone call from day care. “[The Pip]’s got conjunctivitis again. It’s really bad, and he needs to go home right away.” Admittedly, this isn’t the very worst phone call a parent could receive, but it’s very much Not Good. Conjunctivitis means a…

My trip into the office today was for the express purpose of posting this job ad: We invite applications for Visiting Assistant Professor starting in September 2014. This position is available for up to three years, contingent on satisfactory performance. Applicants should have some teaching experience and a strong commitment to undergraduate education. Union is…

The Ultimate Alien Message

In January of 1990, a friend and I designed the ultimate message to an alien civilization. Okay, admittedly, this wan’t a recognized scientific accomplishment. After all, in January of 1990, I was a freshman at Williams. The alien message we designed was part of a first-year Winter Study seminar class. Winter Study, for those not…

Finding That There’s Nothing to Find

In 1967, a team of scientists hauled a big pile of gear– electronics, particle detectors, a giant slab of iron– into the burial chamber at the base of one of the pyramids at Giza. This sounds like a scene from a science fiction or fantasy novel– throw in the fact that their first attempt was…

Over at Galileo’s Pendulum, Matthew Francis expresses an opinion that’s sure to get him in trouble with the Inquisition and placed under house arrest: Carl Sagan’s Cosmos isn’t all that: However, even taking into account the differences in TV between 1980 and 2013, the show is very slow-paced at times. I’m not talking about the…

Gravity’s Engines by Caleb Scharf

The last week or so of silence on the blog has been due to my trip to Ohio (which was very enjoyable), and a lack of child care for the early part of this week. A day and a half home with both kids was just exhausting, but the trip was useful in that it…

One final thought on the Big Science/ Space Chronicles stuff from last week. One of the things I found really frustrating about the book, and the whole argument that we ought to be sinking lots of money into manned space missions is that the terms of the argument are so nebulous. This is most obvious…

I was tremendously disappointed and frustrated by this book. This is largely my own fault, because I went into it expecting it to be something it’s not. Had I read the description more carefully, I might not have had such a strong negative reaction (which was exacerbated by some outside stress when I first started…

I’m about a week late talking about this, but I’ve mostly resigned myself to not doing really topical blogging these days. Anyway, there was a lot of excitement last week over the announcement that an all-star team of nerd billionaires is planning to do commercial asteroid mining. (The post title is a reference to the…