History of Science

Category archives for History of Science

Cosmos Reboot: On Light

Another Monday, another recap of a new episode of the Cosmos reboot. This one was all about optics, and much of it was excellent. This was in part due to the fact that its first couple of historical segments focused on non-Western figures, and I don’t know as much about their background to be able…

Cosmos F*$&ing Loves Science

The fourth episode of the Cosmos reboot aired last night, and as I said on Twitter it was a beautiful demonstration of why I’m finding this show intensely frustrating. There were flashes of brilliance, but also quite a few bits that left me shaking my head. Thus fitting the pattern of the previous episodes– I…

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…

Happy Birthday, Mr. Einstein

The other big nerd event of today is that it’s Einstein’s birthday, on this date back in 1879. I keep meaning to take and post a photo of the cool picture of Einstein we have in the department’s collection of stuff, and this is as good an excuse as any. If not for him, we…

Obligatory Cosmos Commentary

It says here in the fine print that my blogging license could be revoked if I fail to offer a public opinion on the Cosmos reboot, which premiered last night. I missed the first couple of minutes– I had The Pip for bedtime, and he didn’t start snoring until 8:58– but saw most of it…

Given the academic circles I run in, it’s not surprising that one of the most repeated stories crossing my social media feeds yesterday had to do with the changes to the SAT. Starting in 2015, the essay section will no longer be mandatory, and they’re going to reconfigure the reading and math sections to emphasize…

Work. Finish. Publish.

A couple of days ago, John Scalzi posted a writing advice open thread, asking people to share the best advice they’d gotten on the craft of writing. There’s a lot of good stuff in there, much of it fairly specific to fiction writing– stuff about plotting, the use of synonyms for “said,” how to keep…

Back in the fall, I did a bunch of write-ups of old Master’s theses that we found when clearing some space in a storage room. I got away from this because I was busy working on the book, but I have a few more that I pulled out to look at, and since all the…

Reductionism Is Not Fundamentalism

Ashutosh Jogalekar has a response to my post from yesterday complaining about his earlier post on whether multiverses represent a philosophical crisis for physics. I suspect we actually disagree less than that back-and-forth makes it seem– he acknowledges my main point, which was that fundamental theoretical physics is a small subset of physics as a…

The very last section of the book-in-progress (at least the draft that’s with my editor right now…) is titled “Science Is Never Over,” and talks about how there are a nearly infinite number of phenomena that you can investigate scientifically. The universe is a never-ending source of amazement and wonder, with surprisingly rich dynamics in…