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So, About that Video of the Space Station Passing in Front of Saturn…

Last week, a seemingly spectacular astronomy video went viral. It was created by a German astrophotographer named Julian Wessel, and it showed the International Space Station passing directly in front of Saturn. I saw links to it all over Twitter and Facebook, and no wonder: Catching such an event takes an extraordinary amount of skill and planning. Show More Summary

The Fed’s Lack of Appreciation for the Healing Power of Markets

In my recent Cato Institute policy analysis, “Requiem for QE,” I analyze the transcripts of the 2008 and 2009 Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meetings in some detail.  Among them, the March 2009 transcript stands out as particularly...Show More Summary

Extra sperm analysis could help involuntarily childless couples

New research findings from Lund University, Sweden show that a simple analysis of chromosomal breaks in sperms can help guide choice of fertility treatment and, thereby, increase chances of successful assisted reproduction for involuntary...Show More Summary

Ted Versus Powerpose and the Moneygoround, Part One

So. I was reading the newspaper the other day and came across a credulous review of the recent book by Amy “Power Pose” Cuddy. The review, by Heather Havrilesky, expressed some overall wariness regarding the self-help genre, but I was disappointed to see no skepticism regarding Cuddy’s scientific claims. Show More Summary

2015: The Hottest Year on Record

I know it’s funny to read this when the east coast of the US is shoveling out from under a blizzard, but that doesn’t make it any less true: 2015 was the hottest year on record for the planet. And not only the hottest, but blasting through the previous record, held by… the year before. Show More Summary

National School Choice Week Roundup

This week is National School Choice Week, the annual celebration of policies that empower families to choose the education that best meets the individual needs of their children. There have already been several important school choice...Show More Summary

Tyrone on why Democrats should vote for Donald Trump

I know that Tyrone, my evil twin brother, has been fairly silent in 2015, but that’s only because he’s been so busy whispering things in my ear.  He’s also been spending his profits from having shorted the Chinese stock market.  And having shorted the Democrats. Show More Summary

Universal Positivity Bias?

Another study that arouses my instinctual skepticism: “Human Language Reveals a Universal Positivity Bias,” by Peter Sheridan Dodds, Eric M. Clark, Suma Desuc, et al., PNAS Online, 112.8 (2015). The abstract: Using human evaluation of 100,000 words spread across 24 corpora in 10 languages diverse in origin and culture, we present evidence of a deep […]

From Beneath the Earth to Above the Sky

Regular readers know that when it comes to science, my two loves are astronomy and geology. That love is multiplied when they come together. … like in the photo above, a six-panel mosaic taken by master photographer Rogelio Bernal Andreo (you can purchase a print, too). Show More Summary

Reviewing the Dare Stone, clue to Lost Colony of Roanoke

The first Dare Stone was found by a California grocer named Louis E. Hammond who claimed to have discovered it while looking for hickory nuts in a swamp on the east bank of the Chowan River near Edenton, North Carolina, in September of 1937. He couldn’t read the inscription which appeared to be in an [...]

Hitler doesn’t get a postdoc in High Energy Theory

I recognize that this is a genre that is a bit tired, and arguably in poor taste, but the commentary on the HEP theory postdoc job market in the video Hitler doesn’t get a postdoc in High Energy Theory is … Continue reading ?

Finding the Illusive Optimism Hidden inside Us All

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” — Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD) In the film “Adaptation” stressed-out screenwriter Charlie Kaufman has a twin brother, Donald, who’s seemingly perfect. He’s everything Charlie’s not. No, Donald’s not the most […]

Water Wars and Reliable Data: From Bolivia to Flint, Michigan

By Teresa Irene Gonzales As an undergraduate majoring in Latin American and Latina/o studies, I remember watching a documentary about the Cochabamba protests against the World Bank's push for water privatization in the South American country of Bolivia. During the...

Crash Course Astronomy: Everything, the Universe…and Life

So. 48 episodes, over eight hours of content, 100,000 words, a year and a half of work, topics ranging from quantum fluctuations to the death of the Universe… and, finally, here we are. The last episode of Crash Course Astronomy. When...Show More Summary

Friday Varia and Quick Hits

In North Dakota, when the temperature is set to spike into the mid-teens, we get out our “mild winter weather gear.” Temperatures in the upper-20s and maybe even the 30s like this weekend is our way of teasing the snow-bound east coast. With any luck, I’ll have an outdoor run on Saturday. The springlike weather… Read More ?

More (and Best Yet) Evidence that Another Planet Lurks in the Dark Depths of Our Solar System

Yesterday (Jan. 20), a pair of astronomers announced potentially very exciting news: They have found evidence that another, massive planet may exist in the outer solar system. If it exists, it’s likely to have roughly 10 times the mass...Show More Summary

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