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Kids Love Breaking Stuff

I visited SteelyKid’s first-grade class yesterday with several liters of liquid nitrogen. Earlier in the fall, they did a science unit on states of matter– solid, liquid, gas– and talked about it in terms of molecules being more spread out, etc. Looking at her homeworks, I said “Oh, damn, if it wasn’t the middle of…

The Turing movie

Last week I finally saw The Imitation Game, the movie with Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing. OK, so for those who haven’t yet seen it: should you?  Here’s my one paragraph summary: imagine that you told the story of Alan Turing—one greatest triumphs and tragedies of human history, needing no embellishment whatsoever—to someone who only sort-of understood it, and […]

Deck the halls with Nobel physicists

Symmetry presents a physics twist on the craft of cutting paper snowflakes. If you’re looking for a way to decorate for the holidays while also proudly declaring your love of science, symmetry has got your back. Below you’ll find templates...Show More Summary

Advent Calendar of Science Stories 16: Undergraduate Research

“You wanted to see me, Herr Professor?” “Hans! Yes, come in, come in. Just going over the account books. Frightful amount of money going out of this place.” “Well, radium is expensive…” “Ha! Oh, and speaking of which– here’s one of the sources. Absent-mindedly dropped the fool thing in my pocket last night when I…

The Life and Death of Blog Networks

The hot topic of the day is, of course, the big shake-up at Scientific American’s blog network. The official statement is, of course, very carefully worded, but the end result is that they’re shedding a bunch of blogs and instituting a standard set of guidelines for those that remain. A more detailed breakdown of who’s…

Eureka: Waldo at the Galaxy Zoo

Over at Medium, they’ve published a long excerpt from Eureka: Discovering Your Inner Scientist, that gives a good flavor of what the book’s really like. It’s about how the process for solving hidden-object games like the classic Where’s Waldo books is comparable to the process used by Henrietta Leavitt to revolutionize our understanding of the…

Advent Calendar of Science Stories 15: An Unusual Resume

“…and take care that all the signatures go in the right way round, eh, James? I was able to soothe Mr. Dance last time, but if another copy comes back to be rebound, M. de la Roche will put you out.” “Yessir.” “A little more care, there’s a good lad. Run home, now, we’ll see…

Results of a College Education?

One of my favourite Mark Twain sayings: "cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education". Spotted these in the Hollywood farmer's market on Sunday: [...] Click to continue reading this post ?

Advent Calendar of Science Stories 14: A Slip of Card

Scientific controversies aren’t always settled by a single dramatic experiment, but it’s a lot of fun when they are. It’s even more fun when they can be carried out with, as the author put it, “without any other apparatus than is at hand to every one.” I’m speaking in this case of the famous “double…

Eureka: Signing, Q&A, Canadian Review

A few items for Sunday morning: — First and foremost, in just a few hours from now, I’ll be signing books at the Open Door. If you’re in Quebec or central Pennsylvania, you better leave now; Boston or NYC, you can have a cup of coffee first. Farther than that, you might try calling them…

Tiger’s Jaw

One of the many plants that look a lot happier after the much-needed rain… (Although, to be fair, it was flowering before the rain began.) -cvj

Planck: what's new

Slides from the recent Planck collaboration meeting are now available online. One can find there preliminary results that include an input from Planck's measurements of the polarization of the Cosmic Microwave Background (some which were previously available via the legendary press release in French). Show More Summary

Advent Calendar of Science Stories 13: Timing Light

Speaking of the timing of astronomical phenomena, as we were yesterday, the timing of celestial bodies was the key to the first demonstration of one of the pillars of modern physics, the fact that light travels at a finite speed. This actually pre-dates yesterday’s longitude discoveries, which I always forget, because it seems like it…

Science-y Gifts for Kids

One of the questions from a caller when I was on the “Think” show was about how to keep kids interested in science. As I said, the issue isn’t so much creating in interest as working to not squelch the interest that’s already there. Taking kids to cool places like zoos and science museums is…

Advent Calendar of Science Stories 12: Time Tables

Returning to our mostly-chronological ordering after yesterday’s brief excursion, we come to one of the great problems of the 1700’s, namely determining the longitude at sea. Latitude is easy to find, based on the height of the Sun at noon– we told that story last week– but longitude is much trickier. Thanks to the rotation…

Eureka: Irish Radio and Book Signing

Two quick notes: — In a little more than half an hour Buttercup will marry Humperdinck I’ll be talking about Eureka on talk radio in Ireland. This was put together very quickly, thus the short notice. — I’ll be signing books this Sunday, the 14th, at The Open Door Bookstore in Schenectady. If you’re in…

The Universe Lives!

(Seems a highly appropriate title to use when up at 4:00am listening to the excellent violent wind and rain storm that's going on outside.) This is mostly a note for fans of the show The Universe, on the History channel, or H2, and channels by other names internationally. Show More Summary

ICARUS hits the road

A giant neutrino detector is traveling by truck from the Italian Gran Sasso laboratories to CERN to get ready for a new life. Last night a 600-metric-tonne particle detector became the world’s largest neutrino experiment currently on...Show More Summary

The Problem of Science Stories

Last week Kate pointed me to this post about heroic stories of science saying “This seems relevant to your interests.” And, in fact, a good deal of the post talks about Patricia Fara’s Science: A Four Thousand Year History, the Union library’s copy of which is sitting on my desk, where I had looked something…

Advent Calendar of Science Stories 11: Feynman’s Plate

I’ve been trying to keep to a roughly chronological ordering of these stories, but this slow-motion snow storm that was waiting to greet us on our return from Florida made the schools open on a two-hour delay today, which eats the time I usually use for blogging and books stuff. So I’m going to jump…

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