"Neither highbrows nor lowbrows nor midbrows, but elastic-brows.” — George Orwell
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Eddington photograph confirming Einstein's theory that light "bends"Eddington photograph confirming Einstein's theory that light "bends"

As interested in the possible as he was in the proven.


To study the ocean before we destroy it.

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HiLo Gift Ideas 2011 (#2)


Too many notes? Crowdsourcing whalesong.

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An interlocking "circlon" model of elements developed by fringe theorist Jim Carter

“These people want to be at home in the Universe.”


From bio­logy to battle­ships, BSG as a model for in­spired STEM learn­ing

Categories: Codebreaking, Sci-Fi | 3 Comments

A genre that flourishes on cable, public TV, and in IMAX theaters.

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One view to rule them all.


He defamiliarized science rather than taming it.

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back to the futureback to the future

As reported in the New York Times and elsewhere, a pair of physicists have offered a novel theory to explain the troubles bedeviling the Large Hadron Collidor, the world’s most powerful — and to date, least effective — scientific instrument. In the online physics journal arXiv, Holger B. Nielsen and Masao Ninomiya suggest that the […]

Categories: Haw-Haw, Spectacles | 3 Comments

Electronica composer John Boswell remixes the preambles and perorations of Carl Sagan for a groovy take on the wonder-struck spiritual cosmology at the heart of the landmark PBS series Cosmos. With a guest appearance by Stephen Hawking, who rawks the auto-tuner oldskool. — via Don Share

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Monkeys are making news across the world of science. As we discussed last week, researchers discovered that tamarin monkeys prefer music composed for them. Yesterday, Science Daily reported a study in which monkeys were found to follow the laws of supply and demand. In the experiment, groups of vervet monkeys were offered locked containers containing […]


Over his fecund scientific career, ERWIN SCHRÖDINGER (1887-1961) placed quantum wave mechanics on a firm mathematical basis, contributed to the theory of color measurement and perception, and, in the 1944 lecture “What Is Life?”, anticipated the molecular basis of genetic coding. Still, it’s that damned cat-in-a-box Gedankexperiment, proposed in 1930s correspondence with Einstein, that has […]

In his seminal works, The Mechanical Bride (1951) and Understanding Media (1964), the Canadian philosopher MARSHALL MCLUHAN (1911-80) offered astute, didactic examinations of how the public receives and processes media, and what advertising tells us about society. Currently the darling of every Film Theory 101 class, there was a time when McLuhan — whose seminars […]


A self-described “physicist turned historian for philosophical purposes,” THOMAS KUHN (1922-96) was largely an autodidact in his eventual home — the then-new field of the history of science. With his scattershot academic background, it seems only appropriate that his major work, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), became a cynosure for intellectuals from all fields […]


FROM THE STRUGGLE between Cartesian science and the Classics lampooned by Jonathan Swift in his “Battle of the Books,” to the “Two Cultures” argument of physicist and novelist C. P. Snow, to the “nonoverlapping magisteria” of endlessly optimistic evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould, thinkers have sought to smooth the contradictions of science and faith, reason and […]

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The hobbit hole: Liang Bua cave on Flores. Photo by Rosino via Wikimedia.hobbit-head-lo

They’ve always been with us

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AUTO­NOMOUS CITY EXPLORER, or “Ace,” is a robot built by researchers at the University of Munich that navigates city streets by asking passers-by for directions. New Scientist has the story.

Categories: Haw-Haw, Kudos, Sci-Fi | 1 Comment

THE STAR TREK MYTHOS hosts one of the most flourishing bodies of fan fiction since Euripides and the boys got busy on Homer back in the day (indeed, Trekkies ushered in the modern fan fiction movement). And while the new J. J. Abrams-directed film may not qualify for inclusion, elements of the blockbuster prequel are […]

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The surface of Pluto, based on computer modes. L. Calçada<em>The surface of Pluto from computer models, by L. Calçada</em>

VENETIA PHAIR (née Burney), who named the planet Pluto, died on April 30 in Banstead, Surrey. She was 90. In March 1930, Eleven-year old Venetia was talking to her grandfather, Falconer Madan, about the discovery of the new planet when she proposed naming it after the Roman god of the underworld. Madan was a bibliographer […]

Categories: Kudos, Uncanny | 2 Comments

The catalogue of the MIT Press arrived in the mail today. One of my favorite university presses, MIT publishes books that are terrifyingly smart, but often audacious and surprising as well. (last year’s Digital Apollo by David Mindell, in which the Apollo program comes off as half steampunk fever dream and half bureaucratic clusterfuck, is […]

Everyone knows the Moon's made of cheese...<em>Everyone knows the Moon's made of cheese...</em>

FREE­LANCERS, GIVE UP your paltry hopes of making a killing by cooking up a killer iPhone app. The Google Lunar X Prize — $30 million to the first private enterprise that lands a rover on the Moon — is just lying there waiting to be claimed. It’s time to boot up Moon 2.0! Gawk at […]

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MARGARET and CHRISTINE WERTHEIM are crocheting a coral reef, and they’re eager for help. The sisters direct the Institute for Figuring in Los Angeles, which supports lectures, publications, and projects that explore the “figurative ecology” of nature and the human imagination. One nexus in that web of figuring is something topologists call hyperbolic space — […]

Horvath kite over Switzerland's Morteratsch Glacier<i>Horvath kite over Switzerland's Morteratsch Glacier</i>

Thomas Horvath’s kites are like every kite you’ve ever seen, and like no kite you’ve ever seen. They’re what kites dream of when they lie sleeping in a tangle of string at the bottom of the closet. Horvath uses biomimicry, high-tech materials, and structural principles inspired by Buckminster Fuller to create his deceptively simple kites. […]