In the News

Category archives for In the News

Finding Extrasolar Planets with Lasers

On Twitter Sunday morning, the National Society of Black Physicsts account retweeted this: Using Lasers to Lock Down #Exoplanet Hunting #Space http://t.co/0TN4DDo7LF — ✨The Solar System✨ (@The_SolarSystem) September 28, 2014 I recognized the title as a likely reference to the use of optical frequency combs as calibration sources for spectrometry, which is awesome stuff. Unfortunately,…

Women of the Arxiv

Over at FiveThirtyEight, they have a number-crunching analysis of the number of papers (co)authored by women in the arxiv preprint server, including a breakdown of first-author and last-author papers by women, which are perhaps better indicators of prestige. The key time series graph is here: This shows a steady increase (save for a brief drop…

I’ve gotten a few queries about this “Impossible space drive” thing that has space enthusiasts all a-twitter. This supposedly generates thrust through the interaction of an RF cavity with a “quantum vacuum virtual plasma,” which is certainly a collection of four words that turn up in physics papers. An experiment at a NASA lab has…

Two Cultures of Incompressibility

Also coming to my attention during the weekend blog shutdown was this Princeton Alumni Weekly piece on the rhetoric of crisis in the humanities. Like several other authors before him, Gideon Rosen points out that there’s little numerical evidence of a real “crisis,” and that most of the cries of alarm you hear from academics…

Right around the time I shut things down for the long holiday weekend, the Washington Post ran this Joel Achenbach piece on mistakes in science. Achenbach’s article was prompted in part by the ongoing discussion of the significance (or lack thereof) of the BICEP2 results, which included probably the most re-shared pieces of last week…

On Black Magic in Physics

The latest in a long series of articles making me glad I don’t work in psychology was this piece about replication in the Guardian. This spins off some harsh criticism of replication studies and a call for an official policy requiring consultation with the original authors of a study that you’re attempting to replicate. The…

“Earthing” Is a Bunch of Crap

A little while back, I was put in touch with a Wall Street Journal writer who was looking into a new-ish health fad called “earthing,” which involves people sleeping on special grounded mats and that sort of thing. The basis of this particular bit of quackery is the notion that spending time indoors, out 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…

Review and Replication

So, there was this big story in cosmology the other day– Tom Levenson’s write-up is very nice– which has been hailed as one of the greatest discoveries since the last greatest discovery, blah, blah, blah. And now that a few days have passed, we’re starting to see the inevitable backlash, ranging from detailed technical analyses…

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…