Archives for March, 2008

Mars or Arizona?

Those of you who know me know that I’m unhappy living here in Arizona. The landscape and ecosystem of the Sonoran Desert, while beautiful to many, is too dry, rocky, and devoid of life for me to enjoy living here. After my time here, I’ve decided that, were it somehow offered to me, I would…

Weekend Diversion: Karate Chops

I remember being a kid and taking karate lessons. How cool was it to go somewhere for the purpose of learning how to kick ass? It was fun, of course, and one of the things you learned how to do was to attack (strike, kick, and punch) with your entire body, not just with your…

…and then they came for me!

There’s a movie coming out on Creationism, Intelligent Design, and Evolution, called Expelled, and it’s narrated/hosted by Ben Stein (right), a TV/film personality who is an overall intelligent guy (and used to have the TV show Win Ben Stein’s Money), and used to be a Nixon speechwriter. Politically, he’s quite conservative (for example, immediately following…

Will Physicists Find God?

WARNING: Sensationalism ahead! Are you kidding me, Newsweek? They really titled their article Will Physicists Find God? Presumably, the title is named because physicists are searching for the Higgs Particle, and the title is taken after Leon Lederman’s (mediocre, IMO) book, The God Particle. Leon’s a pretty humorous guy, and was told by his Editor…

Somethin’ Neat about our Galaxy

So last week I was up at Pacific University in Portland, OR for a job interview. As part of a faculty interview, you have to lecture on a topic for undergraduates, but they give you the topic just a couple of days before. My topic was Gauss’ Law, which talks about the relationship between an…

The Science of the Brightest GRB

Last week, the brightest gamma-ray burst ever was observed. (See here.) I wanted to know what it was that caused this bright explosion that, despite it being at redshift z=0.94 (or about 7.5 billion light years away), it was visible on Earth with the naked eye! Well, a scientific paper was written on the observations…

On the Survival of Humanity

This is some very basic biology: when resources are unlimited and there are no pressures on a species, its population grows exponentially. There’s also no evolution other than random mutations; without selection pressures (regardless of whether it’s natural or artificial), the genetic information content of a species doesn’t change appreciably. Biologists make use of this…

How much better are cameras?

Cameras, CCDs, prisms, grisms, etc., are all some of the instruments that can go on top of telescopes to help us see things better. We haven’t really increased the size of telescopes so much as we have the quality and ability of the apparatus that go atop them. Take a look at various pictures I’ve…

Brightest thing ever?

Those of you who keep up with your news may have seen this headline on CNN last week: Star Explodes Halfway Across Universe. What they’re talking about is a Gamma-Ray Burst, which was so bright that, despite being 7.5 billion light years (that’s 2.3 Gpc) away, it was still visible on Earth with the naked…

Weekend Diversion: Jessie and Slater?

Remember the TV show Saved By The Bell? It was a high school comedy that was popular when I was in Junior High, and it was, of course, completely preposterous and cheesy. Like what you’d get if you married Beverly Hills: 90210 with Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and then cleaned it up to make…