The Bright Side of the BICEP2 Story

I’ve done yet another piece for The Conversation, this one expanding on something I’ve been saying in interviews promoting Eureka: that knowing the process of science can help people sort good science from bad. In this particular case, I take the somewhat #slatepitch-y angle that the recent high-profile unraveling of the BICEP2 experiment’s claim to […]

Five Billion Years of Solitude by Lee Billings

It’s taken me a disgracefully long time to finish the review copy of Lee Billings’s Five Billion Years of Solitude I was sent back in the fall, mostly because I didn’t read anything not immediately related to the book-in-progress for most of November and all of December. Which is to say, the long delay is […]

Direct and Indirect Heating: Why Don’t Power Plants Change Local Climate?

This past weekend, I was at Boskone, where I appeared on a few science-y panels. One of these was on the possibility of beaming power down from space: Energy From Space Beam me down some juice, Scotty? Let’s talk about the possibilities — and practicalities — of really long-distance power transmission. Tom Easton (M), Jordin […]

1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created by Charles C. Mann

Back when I reviewed Mann’s pop-archaeology classic 1491, I mentioned that I’d held off reading it for a while for fear that it would be excessively polemical in a “Cortez the Killer” kind of way. Happily, it was not, so when I saw he had a sequel coming out, I didn’t hesitate to pick it […]

Frickin’ Lasers: “Laser Advances in Nuclear Fuel Stir Terror Fear”

A physics story makes the front page of the New York Times today. Sadly, it’s with the headline Laser Advances in Nuclear Fuel Stir Terror Fear. Sigh. The key technological development, here, is that General Electric has been playing around with a laser-based isotope separation technique. This is an idea that’s been around for a […]