History of Science

Category archives for History of Science

The Copernicus Complex by Caleb Scharf

I enjoyed Caleb Scharf’s previous book, Gravity’s Engines a good deal, so I was happy to get email from a publicist offering me his latest. I’m a little afraid that my extreme distraction of late hasn’t really treated it fairly, but then again, the fact that I finished it at all in my current state…

Schrödinger’s Cat at TED-Ed

The third of the videos I wrote for TED-Ed is now live: Schrödinger’s Cat: A Thought Experiment in Quantum Mechanics.This is using basically the same argument I outlined in this post, but with awesome animation courtesy of Agota Vegso. I’m impressed by how close the images that ended up in the video are to the…

Relativity and Baseball

It’s baseball playoff time, so sport shows are full of one of the great mysteries of the season, exemplified by this .gif (from SBNation): No, not “Raul Ibanez, really?” but “How can he make the ball go that far?” After all, even very good outfielders are lucky to reach home plate with a throw from…

The exciting news of the week: Eureka: Discovering Your Inner Scientist has gotten a starred review in Publishers Weekly. Woo-hoo! They’ve said nice things about my previous two books, but getting the star is a big deal. And it’s a really good capsule description of the book, with a great pull quote in the last…

On Putting Words in Einstein’s Mouth

Modern media being what it is, I should get out in front of this, so: I am guilty of putting words in Einstein’s mouth. I mean, go watch my TED-Ed video on particles and waves, or just look at the image up top– that very clearly shows Einstein saying words that he probably never said.…

My TED@NYC adventure last fall didn’t turn into an invite to the big TED meeting, but it did lead to a cool opportunity that is another of the very cool developments I’ve been teasing for a while now: I’ve written some scripts for lessons to be posted with TED-Ed. The first of these, on particle-wave…

Throwback Thursday

OK, the photo above is a recent picture of me– yesterday, in fact. But the spiral-carved rock I’m standing next to was carved that way a bit more than five thousand years ago, so that ought to count as a throwback… We’ve been in Dublin the last few days, and on Thursday we took a…

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…

I should really know better than to click any tweeted link with a huff.to shortened URL, but for some reason, I actually followed one to an article with the limited-reach clickbait title Curious About Quantum Physics? Read These 10 Articles!. Which is only part one, because Huffington Post, so it’s actually five articles. Three of…

The Angst of Being Positive

The surest sign that I’ve become a Real Author is that there are five months yet before Eureka comes out, and I’m already fretting about negative reviews. Negative reviews that haven’t happened yet, but that I know will come, in a particular form. The book, as you probably know from my prior ramblings on this…