Archives for September, 2012

Weekend Diversion: A Story To Tell

“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” -Rudyard Kipling You might not believe it, but when I was a kid, I hated writing. Absolutely hated it. And it wasn’t because I didn’t have anything to write, or because I didn’t enjoy communicating my thoughts, or because I didn’t like…

The Deepest View of the Universe. EVER.

“It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.” -Joseph Campbell One of the bravest things that was ever done with the Hubble Space Telescope was to find a patch of sky with absolutely nothing in it — no bright stars, no…

Happy New Year, Pastafarians*

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.” -Antoine de Saint-Exupery The great nebular structures stretching across our galaxy are evidence of the birth and deaths of stars, or so I — an astrophysicist…

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” -Albert Einstein “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” -William Arthur Ward On one side of the room, the interviewer’s palms begins to sweat. Although the young man has done…

Behind the Galaxy’s Most Famous Nebula

“The self-same atoms which, chaotically dispersed, made the nebula, now, jammed and temporarily caught in peculiar positions, form our brains; and the ‘evolution’ of brains, if understood, would be simply the account of how the atoms came to be so caught and jammed.” -William James Up in the heavens, there are planets, stars, and galaxies…

“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” -Eleanor Roosevelt I’ve always been a big fan of personal freedom, which includes the freedom to speak your mind, say what you think, ask questions, be…

Guest Post: Shooting the Stars on a Budget

“Mortal as I am, I know that I am born for a day. But when I follow at my pleasure the serried multitude of the stars in their circular course, my feet no longer touch the Earth.” -Ptolemy As regular readers here will know, earlier this month I went to Glacier National Park, meeting up…

“Science enhances the moral value of life, because it furthers a love of truth and reverence—love of truth displaying itself in the constant endeavor to arrive at a more exact knowledge of the world of mind and matter around us, and reverence, because every advance in knowledge brings us face to face with the mystery…

How the Earth moves, and how do we know?

“Nature is relentless and unchangeable, and it is indifferent as to whether its hidden reasons and actions are understandable to man or not.” -Galileo Galilei All of science is rooted in the idea that natural phenomena can be explained naturally, and that if we want to know how anything in the Universe works, all we…

Weekend Diversion: The Physics of Happy Gilmore

“What a shot by Happy Gilmore! <aside> Who the hell is Happy Gilmore?” -Announcer, from Happy Gilmore As I prepare to write this, it occurs to me that some of you may not have seen the greatest* movie of all time, Happy Gilmore. The movie begins with a montage of Happy’s disastrous and violent childhood,…