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Falsification and chemistry: What’s the rub?

Roald Hoffmann has often emphasized the limitationsof falsification for the everyday practice of chemistry My last post on the role and limitations of falsification leads to a point I have made before: the fact that falsification is far less important for chemists than it is for, say, physicists or mathematicians. Show More Summary

Falsification and its discontents

Karl Popper's grounding in the age of physics colored his views regarding the way science is done. Falsification was one of the resulting casualties (Image: Wikipedia Commons) Earlier this year the 'Big Questions' website Edge.org’sShow More Summary

How LCDs work

A little video I put together to explain how liquid crystal displays work, using pasta, stair gates, wool, a hair dryer and some polarizing filters.

Pleasures of Process Development

I refluxed six liters of HCl, 12M And fought a terrible foaming Now I can filter that mud, Then take the reactor apart To clean the whole damn thing

The simple physics behind a horrible tragedy: A tape measure with the energy of a 0.45 Colt bullet

From the NYT comes this really tragic story of a man who was killed when a tape measure from a construction site fell down 50 floors and struck him on the head. My deepest condolences to his family. The tape measure weighed a pound so it may seem strange that it led to such an irreversible and horrible fate. Show More Summary

Biologists, chemists, math and computing

Here are some words of wisdom from C. Titus Brown, a biology professor at Michigan State University, on the critical importance of quantitative math, stats and computing skills in biology. The larger question is what it means to 'do biology' in an age when biology has become so interdisciplinary. Show More Summary

Edward Teller plays Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata

Volatile neurons and detonators fire, tritium and moral ambiguities fuse, faith and plutonium implode, the hauntingly beautiful notes intertwine and signal a glorious armageddon. Source.

How the infamous Yellow Rain investigation has foresaw a drug delivery innovation

By Mark Lorch, University of Hull The history of science is full of episodes when a seemingly ludicrous theory is ridiculed, but then slowly gathers evidence and support to move from the fringes to the heart of the scientific consensus. Examples include Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, the theory of plate tectonics that … Continue reading »

The rise of the male nerd and the decline of female computer scientists

From NPR comes a very interesting graph and hypothesis. The graph shows that the percentage of women who received degrees in computer science was actually rising until the 1980s and then started dropping. Why would that be the case?Show More Summary

The 100 most highly cited papers of all time: Tools, not ideas

A rather obscure paper by biochemistOliver Lowry is the most highly citedscientific paper of all time(Image: beckerarchives) Nature has published a comprehensive list of the top 100 most highly cited papers of all time and the list is...Show More Summary

Schrodinger and Hawking in the Starbucks line

This list of entries entitled 'literary Starbucks' speculates what different well-known writers and fictional characters would order based on their personalities if they were to suddenly turn consumerist and appear in the Starbucks around the corner. Show More Summary

Frankenstein and the monster in an age of NIH funding

Frankenstein and his monster on Broadway(Image: dvdbeaver.com) The Nobel Prize-winning physicist Robert Laughlin is one of those rare minds who combines a wide-ranging knowledge of many fields with a wicked sense of humor and a devil-may-care attitude. Show More Summary

Isaiah Berlin, science and the dangers of certainty

Isaiah Berlin (Image: hannaharendt.org) The essence of science is uncertainty. The scientific process gropes, not finds, its way to the truth. And yet there are those who have sought certainty and sacred truth not just in the science but in human affairs. Show More Summary

Ahmed Zewail and the challenges of intercultural chemistry

A few days ago I was reading the fine biography of the Caltech chemist Ahmed Zewail who won the 1999 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his wonderful work on laser femtosecond spectroscopy which allows us to literally peer into the secret lives of molecules. Show More Summary

On Freeman Dyson, cadmium estimation and the joy of chemistry

Cadmium sulfide (the solution has a muchdeeper, brilliant yellow color) Freeman Dyson who is a hero of mine and who I have had the privilege of meeting at length several times is someone who has done a lot of interesting things during a long and fruitful life. Show More Summary

David Greenglass and Robert Oppenheimer: A lesson from history

David Greenglass and Robert Oppenheimer(Images: NYT and NDTV) The name of David Greenglass must have almost completely faded from memory for people of my generation. Greenglass himself probably wanted his name to fade from all of history, although history is seldom so kind. Show More Summary

Who's the world's greatest living chemist?

Roald Hoffmann: My candidate for title of 'world's greatest living chemist' Since we have been making lists of Nobel Prize candidates for the last few weeks and since we already have a few lists of "greatest chemist in history", I thought...Show More Summary

The demise of ScienceOnline

So it seems that the pioneering science communication conference Science Online is no more. It's a sad piece of news, especially since I attended the conference twice and had registered to attend it again in Atlanta next year. The news...Show More Summary

Edward Witten, chemistry and the problems with falsification

Science writer and journalist John Horgan who wrote the notorious and thought-provoking book "The End of Science" in the 90s has an interesting interview with theoretical physics giant Edward Witten. Witten, who won the Fields MedalShow More Summary

The 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and tool-driven scientific revolutions

Image: Nobelprize.org Last year I wrote a post detailing the views of historian Peter Galison and physicist Freeman Dyson of science as being as much of a tool-driven revolution as an idea-driven one. Now here's a great instance of that...Show More Summary

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