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I exchanged a bunch of emails a week or two ago with a journalist who was working on a story involving the possibility of faster-than-light travel. He wanted me to check some statements about the relationship between FTL and causality. FTL creates problems for causality, because if you have an object moving faster than light,…

PNAS: What We Learn From Science

I’ve been intermittently profiling people with STEM degrees and non-academic jobs since 2009, as it turns out. One of the questions in the profile asks “What’s the most important thing you learned from science?” These have been some of the most interesting responses, so I thought it might be interesting, while I sit here and…

I’ve decided to do a new round of profiles in the Project for Non-Academic Science (acronym deliberately chosen to coincide with a journal), as a way of getting a little more information out there to students studying in STEM fields who will likely end up with jobs off the “standard” academic science track. The thirteenth…

Back in December, The Parable of the Polygons took social media by storm. It’s a simple little demonstration of how relatively small biases can lead to dramatic segregation effects, using cute cartoon polygons. You should go read it, if you haven’t already. I’ll wait. This post isn’t really about that. I mean, it is, but…

Science Story: Night Owls

(When I launched the Advent Calendar of Science Stories series back in December, I had a few things in mind, but wasn’t sure I’d get through 24 days. In the end, I had more than enough material, and in fact didn’t end up using a few of my original ideas. So I’ll do a few…

I’ve decided to do a new round of profiles in the Project for Non-Academic Science (acronym deliberately chosen to coincide with a journal), as a way of getting a little more information out there to students studying in STEM fields who will likely end up with jobs off the “standard” academic science track. The twelfth…

Quantum Optics: The Game

Over on Facebook, my colleague Chris Chabris was talking up a smartphone game from a company he’s associated with. Which of course got me thinking “Wait, why don’t I have a smartphone game company?” (The Renaissance Weekend is also partly to blame, as I was one of about six people there who didn’t have a…

“Hey,” you say, “It’s been, like, a week and a half since you did a post flogging Eureka: Discovering Your Inner Scientist. What gives?” Well, I’ve been kind of busy, and also the media world sort of goes into suspended animation over the stretch between Christmas and New Year’s. However, there’s publicity stuff in the…

French Toast in the Renaissance

As mentioned briefly here and on Twitter, I spent the past week at the Renaissance Weekend in Charleston, SC. This is a biggish smart-people festival, running for 30-odd years now, bringing together a wide array of people from politics, finance, science, and the arts. Bill Phillips has been going to it for years (though he…

2014 Was Just This Year, You Know?

So, it’s January 1, which means a ton of social-media traffic commenting on the year just concluded, most of it very negative– “Good riddance, 2014, don’t let the door hit you on the way out, etc.” I’m a little more ambivalent about the whole 2014 thing, and of course, being a good squishy liberal, I…