Why trust a theory? Physicists and philosophers debate (Synopsis)

“Did you ever read my words, or did you merely finger through them for quotations which you thought might valuably support an already conceived idea concerning some old and distorted connection between us?” -Audre Lorde One of the most damning, albeit accurate, condemnations of String Theory that has been leveled at it is that it’s … Read moreWhy trust a theory? Physicists and philosophers debate (Synopsis)

Ask Ethan #17: The Burden of Proof

“Never waste your time trying to explain who you are to people who are committed to misunderstanding you.” –Dream Hampton Perhaps no word in the English language generates as much misunderstanding as the word theory. In scientific circles, this word has a very specific meaning that’s different from everyday use, and — as a theoretical … Read moreAsk Ethan #17: The Burden of Proof

Ask Ethan #10: Why is the Universe the same everywhere?

“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.” –Dale Carnegie Our new Ask Ethan segment has been really … Read moreAsk Ethan #10: Why is the Universe the same everywhere?

Ask Ethan #1: Back-to-school advice

“Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing worth knowing can be taught.” –Oscar Wilde As many of you know, last weekend I launched a suggestion box here on the site, and I’ve been overwhelmed by the response: about fifty of you have sent something in to … Read moreAsk Ethan #1: Back-to-school advice

Where does an earthquake's energy come from?

“As seismologists gained more experience from earthquake records, it became obvious that the problem could not be reduced to a single peak acceleration. In fact, a full frequency of vibrations occurs.” –Charles Francis Richter You’ve all been around long enough to be familiar with the severe damage that earthquakes can cause, rattling and cracking the … Read moreWhere does an earthquake's energy come from?

Advice to my young self on my one-year-Con-niversary

“A lot of mothers will do anything for their children, except let them be themselves.” –Banksy One of the great joys I got to experience came last year, when for the very first time, I was invited to be a guest of honor at a most fabulous convention: MidSouthCon 30! I went into it not … Read moreAdvice to my young self on my one-year-Con-niversary

Why is it a big deal that the new LHC particle is verified as the Higgs?

“If you’re a reporter, the easiest thing in the world is to get a story. The hardest thing is to verify. The old sins were about getting something wrong, that was a cardinal sin. The new sin is to be boring.” –David Halberstam It was only a few months ago that both collaborations at the … Read moreWhy is it a big deal that the new LHC particle is verified as the Higgs?

The Universe Just Keeps Trying to Kill Us

“Don’t wake me for the end of the world unless it has very good special effects.” -Roger Zelazny It’s always the ones you least expect that get you the worst, it seems. I went to bed last night excited that Asteroid 2012 DA14, a 200,000 ton asteroid, was going to pass within just 28,000 km (or … Read moreThe Universe Just Keeps Trying to Kill Us

How can we see black holes?

“According to the special theory of relativity nothing can travel faster than light, so that if light cannot escape, nothing else can either. The result would be a black hole: a region of space-time from which it is not possible to escape to infinity.” –Stephen Hawking You may have encountered objects that are the same … Read moreHow can we see black holes?

How Many Planets Are In The Universe?

“Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.” –Ray Bradbury It wasn’t all that long ago — back when I was a boy — that the only planets we knew of were the ones in … Read moreHow Many Planets Are In The Universe?