Tag Archives: explanation

First Stars

Here’s more news from big telescopes. The galaxy depicted in the illustration is called CR7. It has a football flavor: Google tells me CR7 is Cristiano Ronaldo, star player for famed Spanish soccer team, Real Madrid. The galaxy named after him shows up way down on page three of my search results! That bright patch […]

Do Stars Make Buckyballs?

No doubt you never thought about this question. But suddenly it is hot science news. The answer that we get is: Yes. And it has interesting implications. The story starts with the odd properties of carbon. (It’s our story too because they are the basis for life, not to mention much of our industry.) Carbon […]

I’m from Missouri…Show Me!

Finding new drugs these days is largely done with quantum mechanics. Fifty years ago it was more like what the Brits (and the indie rock band Arctic Monkeys) call suck-it-and-see. So thousands of Americans don’t know that they have arms and legs and normal lives thanks to the courage of a Canadian—and American—physician. She says […]

Taking the Shot

These days there’s news about the pros and cons of vaccinations. There is good news and there’s bad news. Let’s unscramble them, because we can learn from both good and bad. There is good news about ebola vaccines. Ebola is about eight times less infectious than measles but it’s far more deadly. It’s a gruesome […]

Go Jets Go!

How about those jets! Jets in space are hot in science news these days. They are hot because they are a huge problem. How huge? Try thinking of a billion times a billion miles. Let’s start small. Archerfish find breakfast using water jets. Their jets are longer than their body size. How they shoot their […]

A Small Problem

In recent posts we’ve touched upon the sorry state of physics. ‘Sorry state’ is not just my view; many physicists and science writers see this the same way. Physics has now all but lost experimental contact with the real world. What went wrong? How can we fix it? And why should we care? What went […]

Get a Little Ether in Your Life

In your spaceship, far from any star, can you tell if you are moving? Do you even know what moving means? Physicists thought about this long before we made our way into near-Earth space. And they tangled it up with a concept called the æther. The word aether was once widely understood. Winston Churchill uses […]

Losing Time

Time matters to us all. We are defined by time. Mostly we don’t think about it. But it’s easier to think about than you might expect. Time became important in the 15th century. It came to be synonymous with clocks. Accurate chronometers would help sailors figure where they were at sea. Many made bold voyages—or […]

Global Warming Losing Heat?

The message of Dr. Bernard Forscher’s brick allegory is that data can obstruct the search for scientific explanation. Today we check a story about missing heat (recent fodder for climate-change denial). On the way to explanation we’ll see data being tweaked to say more than they should. (Data in my book is plural and datum […]