The Unbearable Sameness of Physics Talks

Gordon Watts has deja vu: [Leaving a colloquium], I got stopped by another member of our department, who is a good friend of particle physics, and she said basically the same thing: all particle physics talks look the same. Some of the comments: Two slides on the detector. Some pictures of quarks, and then some […]

My Teams Stink

There’s been much less hoops-blogging than usual around here this year for a couple of reasons. For one thing, I’m busy with work, and more substantive blogging, so I don’t have time to watch a lot of games. I’m also playing a fair amount of basketball these days, both pick-up games at lunch, and IM […]

The Problem of the Modern Republican Party

Mark Kleiman explains the problem of abortion in American politics (Bill Hicks: “Yeah, I’m gonna win you all back with this one”) in two paragraphs of this post: Jane Galt is right that the country would be better off if the abortion debate sparked less hatred on both sides. Moreover, she’s right that one key […]

Two Minutes of String Theory

Discover magazine has announced a contest: Your goal is to create a video that quickly and clearly explains perhaps the most baffling idea in the history of the world: string theory. And the best part is that you have just two minutes. You’ll be happy to know that Peter Woit has already bowed out (suggested […]


Various and sundry items that don’t quite rate a post of their own. I was astonished to learn on Pardon the Interruption that today is Gene Hackman’s birthday. Not so much that it’s his birthday, as that it’s his 77th birthday. He doesn’t seem like he should be that old. Then again, he’s looked about […]

Basic Concepts: Energy

Having talked about force and fields, it seems fairly natural to move on to talking about energy, next. Of course, it also would’ve made sense to talk about energy first, and then fields and forces. These are interlocking concepts. A concise one-sentence definition of energy might go something like: the energy content of an object […]

The Dresden Files

I meant to post a comment on the new SciFi Channel series of The Dresden Files yesterday, but really, it’s hard to work up much enthusiasm. It’s not that the show was bad– if it was bad, I’d have no problem writing something saying that. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t all that good, either. […]

Actual Terrorist Convicted (Story on Page 43)

Thoreau at Unqualified Offerings points out an honest-to-God terrorist conviction that didn’t make a big splash in the news. Guess why: GREENBELT, Maryland – Robert F. Weiler, Jr., age 25, of Forestville, Maryland pleaded guilty today to possessing a pipe bomb (an unregistered destructive device), being a felon in possession of a firearm and attempting […]

Posted in War

Sociology of Car Bumpers

Something my sister pointed out, based on driving from San Francisco to southern California, and subsequently confirmed by local observations (for example, in the parking lot on my way back from basketball today): When you see magnetic ribbons attached to cars, they invariably have right-leaning political slogans on them: “Support the Troops” and the like. […]

Science Investment and The Horizon Problem (Updated)

Apparently, it’s “economics of higher education” day here at Uncertain Principles. This time out, we have Steve Hsu on Larry Summers. (Update: I should also link to this post by Brad DeLong discussing the same article, with good stuff in the comments. And while I’m bashing free-market advocates, here’s Jonah on the worst assumption in […]