Ask a ScienceBlogger: Justify My Funds

This week’s question from our Corporate Masters has to do with the ever-popular issue of funding: Since they’re funded by taxpayer dollars (through the NIH, NSF, and so on), should scientists have to justify their research agendas to the public, rather than just grant-making bodies? “Justify” is an awfully strong word, here… The answer to […]

Shameful History

We had an interesting colloquium yesterday from Mark Walker, a colleague in the History department, on the subject of Peter Debye, a Dutch chemist and Nobel laureate. It seems that a book published last year on Einstein in the Netherlands included some material accusing Debye of being a Nazi collaborator, which touched off a major […]

Intake Police

Two news stories today relating to students’ intake of various substances, and the people who want to control them: First, an essay in the New York Times about misguided anti-obesity measures in the public schools. It’s got the requisite list of dodgy medical statistics, and some shots at the BMI as a measure of “obesity.” […]

Open the Pod Bay Doors, Hal

There’s an interesting story in the Times this morning about efforts to make robotic space probes more autonomous. The idea is that it would be nice to be able to explore the Solar System without the big delays introduced by light-speed communications lags. In the absence of an ansible, autonomous robots are the best way […]

Funny-Weird or Funny-Ha-Ha?

While channel-surfing the other night, I caught a few minutes of a program claiming to present the “100 Funniest Movies of All Time,” and was a little baffled at the choices I saw represented. As with most list shows, it was way too heavy on recent stuff (The 40-Year-Old Virgin might be really funny, but […]

Soccer Observations

I gained about fifty pounds my freshman year in college (from ~190 lbs in high school to ~240 labs by the end of the year), owing to taking up rugby and a beer-heavy diet. Since then, people who meet me generally assume that I played football in high school– in fact, that was probably the […]

My Uncanny Power Over Weather

One of my two classes this term (Quantum Optics) is a junior/senior level elective, and when I teach those sorts of classes, I like to invite the students over to the house for dinner (they’re paying $40K/year for the Liberal Arts College Experience, after all…). The problem this year is that it’s also a very […]

Fact and Fiction

A couple of link-worthy posts dealing with the true nature of academia: Over at the Little Professor, Miriam Burstein addresses the movie cliches of academia (spinning off a post at Michael Berube’s blog). Meanwhile, Dr. Free-Ride discusses the finer points of tailoring academic regalia, which is useful information as graduation season approaches. (My own cheap […]

Kids These Days

Over in the right-hand sidebar, Seed is pushing a short piece on Laurie Pycroft, a 16-year-old Briton who founded Pro-Test, an organization supporting animal testing. This was all over the UK papers a couple of months ago, and a little Googling turns up a piece by Pycroft himself telling the story of the group’s origins. […]