On the Checking of Boxes, and the Need to Chill Out

In the comments to yesterday’s post about college admissions, Joseph Yoon quoted my statement that “I’m somewhat sympathetic to claims that Asians have a difficult position in higher education,” and shot back with: I wonder if you will feel more strongly about this in 10 years when your kids are near college. Will you advise […]

The Visual Presentation of Misleading Information, Anti-Asian Bias Edition

In which the skewing of a data plot in Ron Unz’s epic investigation of college admissions makes me more skeptical of his overall claim, thanks to the misleading tricks employed. ———— Steve Hsu has a new post on a favorite topic of his, bias against Asians in higher ed admissions. This is based on a […]

Using Light to Put a Mirror in the Dark: “Optomechanical Dark Mode”

In which I unpack a cryptic paper title and explain how quantum superposition lets you use light to keep things from interacting with light. ————- I joined AAAS a couple of years ago to get a break on the registration fee for their meeting, and I’ve kept up the membership mostly because I like having […]

The Inspiring Power of You’re Doing It Wrong

I’ve got a bunch of browser tabs open on my various computers that have been there for weeks, one of which is Alastair Reynolds on writing science fiction. This is mostly a response to a not-terribly-interesting complaint that the science fiction genre has been “exhausted,” but there was a bit in there that resonated with […]

Hobbits and Prime Ministers: The Physics of Doors

Over at Tor.com, Kate has begun a chapter-by-chapter re-read of The Hobbit, and has some thoughts on Chapter 1. It’s full of interesting commentary about characters and literary technique, but let’s get right to the important bit: Physics! Kate mentions in passing in the post that the Hobbit style round door with a knob in […]

Why Are Physics Classes Full of Old Stuff?

Everybody and their siblings have been linking to this Minute Physics video, an “open letter” to President Obama complaining about the way that most high school and even intro college physics classes don’t teach anything remotely modern: I’m not entirely sure where the date of 1865 comes from, but it’s true, the standard intro physics […]

Do the New Paper Dance

OK, it’s a paper I mentioned here before, when it went up on the arxiv, but the “Comments on Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics” article I wrote this summer is up on the Physica Scripta web site now, and for the next not-quite-thirty days it’s free to read and download: Searching for new physics through […]

Financiers Still Aren’t Rocket Scientists

Over at Slate, John Dickerson has a piece expressing amazement that “numbers guy” Mitt Romney was so badly misinformed about the election. While I’ll admit to a certain amount of schadenfreude about the general bafflement of the Romney campaign and the Republicans generally, this particular slant (which Dickerson isn’t the only one to take, just […]

Twilight of the Elites and the Rise of the Culture

In which I use my double license as a physicist and a science fiction fan to engage in some half-assed futurism spinning off Chris Hayes’s much-discussed book. ————- I don’t read a lot of political books, because I tend to find them frustrating. They’re usually surprisingly ephemeral, trying to spin Deep Meaning out of a […]

What’s FiveThirtyEight Good For?: The Inevitable Nate Silver Backlash

Now that we’ve apparently elected Nate Silver the President of Science, this is some predictable grumbling about whether he’s been overhyped. If you’ve somehow missed the whole thing, Jennifer Ouellette offers an excellent summary of the FiveThirtyEight saga, with lots of links, but the Inigo Montoya summing up is that Silver runs a blog predicting […]