Programming Note, Party Games

Next Thursday is Thanksgiving, and the impending holiday and associated travel has thrown our schedules all out of whack. I’m making myself crazy trying to maintain the usual posting schedule while still meeting work and family responsibilities. Thus, for at least the next week, and possibly longer, I’m not even going to try.

If something really big comes up that needs to be mentioned, I’ll probably post about it. Other than that, you can expect links dumps, and not much more.

If you need something to entertain you right now, here are a couple of party games:

And that’s it for now. See you when I see you.

It’s Not Science Without Graphs

As a sign of what an enormous geek I am, here’s what I did to pass the time while Kate was getting ready for the wedding we went to yesterday:


Yes, I amuse myself by making graphs. If I knew Python, I’d be an xkcd character.

Anyway, that’s the monthly traffic for this blog from January 2006 (when I moved to ScienceBlogs) to the present. As you can see, April 2008 was the third best month since the move, thanks to Reddit picking up my post on What Everyone Should Know About Science, and in influx of crazy people. Thank you, Reddit, thank you crazy people.

Continue reading “It’s Not Science Without Graphs”

The Year in Blogging, 2007

Because it’s not science without graphs:


That’s the traffic for this blog for 2007. If you integrate the area under the curve, you get a total of 833,275 page views for the year, which is, frankly, kind of astonishing. That’s up from last year’s total of 574,676, so I guess the goal for 2008 is to break a million.

The top ten posts for the year, in terms of traffic:

Continue reading “The Year in Blogging, 2007”

Phyiscs Pictures Wanted

As noted a little while ago, ScienceBlogs has recently redesigned the channel pages on the front page, and they now include images supplied by the bloggers. For example, the doomsday weapon photo that currently graces the Physical Science page is a picture of my lab.

Now, any idiot can take pictures of cute fuzzy animals, but physics pictures are a little harder to come by. So, the corporate masters are soliciting pictures from you, the readers of this blog:

It’s not too hard: the image needs to be at least 465 pixels wide. Readers should send their photos to They should send only photos that they have the rights to (eg, photos they have taken themselves), and they should include a line of text to the effect that we have permission to use their photo on ScienceBlogs. They should also add how they’d like to be credited, and whether they would like a link to appear along with the credit.

People can also send us links to Flickr pages, or tag a photo on Flickr with “Sb-homepage,” and we will find it. They should make sure that the photos are licensed under Creative Commons with an “attribution only” or a “share alike” license.

So, if you have good pictures of physics stuff, send them along, or tag them on Flickr, and help make ScienceBlogs look cooler.

Redecorating ScienceBlogs

ScienceBlogs has just redesigned the main site. Sort of. The change is subtle enough that you might not notice it– the only real difference on the front page is that the “channel” list has been reorganized– it’s now slightly shorter, and some old channels have been combined into new ones.

There are two practical advantages to this: on the back end of things, this allows the individual bloggers to put a post in two channels at the same time, which is great for things that straddle the boundary between two areas. Also, the new channel pages feature pictures, with the Physical Science page currently graced by a picture of my lab, so that’s a nice bonus.

There are presumably disadvantages as well. Here’s a comment thread for you to complain about stuff in.

Blog Maintenance Update

You may notice, a couple of posts down, a post with the title “Links for 2007-10-03,” with a bunch of, well, links in it. This was auto-generated by, and is the main reason why I started using that service this week– the idea is to give me a way to collect together the sort of almost-bloggable links that I run across every day and end up leaving as open blog tabs for a week before deciding that they don’t really have enough meat to be a full post, and it’s too much work to cut and paste a lot of them together for a Links Dump. This will tend to include a bunch of EurekAlert press releases and little news squibs from various science publications, along with some just plain weird stuff from around the Web, with one-line comments from me.

The idea here is to guarantee that there will be at least some minimal content here every day, even when I start to get really busy with other stuff, and can’t put in the effort for in-depth blogging.

While I was fiddling around with the blog, I also finally took the time do do a blogroll update. I do most of my blog-reading via RSS these days, so I’ve gotten to be really bad about keeping the links in the left-hand column current. I’ve added a bunch of science blogs that I read regularly, plus a couple of other categories of sites. If I missed anything, or broke any of the new links, let me know.

You should also consider this an Open Thread for comments about the look, feel, and general operation of the site. Is there anything that I should change to improve your Uncertain Principles experience? Leave a comment, and I’ll consider it.

In Which I Play With Social Network Applications

I haven’t even had a book contract for a month, and already I’m engaging in Authorial Avoidance Behavior…

I spent a while this morning messing around with setting up a account. This does actually have a worthwhile goal, namely to be an improvement over my current system of keeping a hundred tabs open in Opera containing articles I might want to mention on the blog. This way, I can file them in a central place, and not have the browser open tempting me to web-surf when I ought to be writing.

But, of course, it’s also a wonderful excuse to putz around on the web, doing nothing particularly useful. Such as, for example, setting it up so my bookmarks show up in my Facebook profile.

Which, of course, means that I’m admitting to having a Facebook account (it’s cleverly hidden under my actual name…). Like most people my age, I hasten to add, I don’t really do much of anything with it (and, for that matter, I hasten to add that I hsten to add that I don’t really do anything with it, which also seems to be a characteristic of people my age). It’s occasionally useful for checking what’s going on on campus, and it’s sort of amusing to look at the profiles of students I know when they turn up in the random selection, but really, the idea of sending “friend” requests to students is just a little too close to the creepy “Have You Met My Golden Retreiver Puppy?” level of my personal moral anti-compass, and there aren’t enough of my college classmates on there for it to really be useful in that regard.

I suppose I could set up an “Uncertain Principles” group, but I’m not sure what the value added would be. Other than giving me another way to kill time when I’m supposed to be working…

Meet Your Guest-Bloggers

As mentioned several times hereabouts, Kate and I are headed to Japan on Saturday, where we’ll be spending three weeks touring around and attending the World Science Fiction Convention in Yokohama. We will have at least some Internet access, and I may post the occasional travel update from Japan, but I’m not going to try to schedule three full weeks worth of posts to keep the blog going during my absence.

If, for some strange reason, you find that you are wholly dependent on Uncertain Principles for your computer-based entertainment needs, have no fear– I’m not going to leave you totally bereft, hitting “Reload” on the same old posts for day after agonizing day. I’ve arranged for a couple of guest bloggers during my absence, so there will be at least some fresh physics-blogging goodness for you to enjoy while I’m off in the land of the metaphorical rising sun. They’re both physicists, and friends from my Usenet days, and I’m sure they’ll have interesting things to say while I’m out of town.

Nathan is another AMO physics type, and in fact is currently a post-doc in my old group at NIST. He was an undergrad at Berkeley, and did his Ph.D. at Caltech, but had a brief stint in the real world in between, working for a lab in the Boston area. He’s got slightly more indie cred than I do, when it comes to pop music, but squanders it by being fond of heavy metal.

Aaron is a string theorist, brought in to supply a little diversity of opinion around here. He was an undergrad at Yale (graduating shortly before I went there as a post-doc), and did his Ph.D. at Princeton, and is currently a post-doc at Texas A&M. He’s put up with a lot of grief from me about string theory, and is an extremely good sport about it.

They’ve got the run of the place for the next three weeks, and I’ve given them the keys to the disemvoweller, so don’t go thinking you can get uppity in the comments. I plan to check in from time to time, but even if I don’t, you’ll be in good hands.

Mata ne. See you in September.

Entertain Yourselves

I’m off for a much-needed vacation, and will be Internet-less for the next week. Woo-hoo!

The plan of the moment is to set up a handful of physics “news” items to appear next week (the scare quotes are because some of these items are weeks old), but otherwise there won’t be any updates. If you’re wholly dependent on this blog for your daily entertainment needs, use this opportunity to get a frickin’ life, will you?

If you find yourself desperate for something to do, somebody has set up a stub ScienceBlogs page at Wikipedia, which could stand to be upgraded with more information about the network and the individual blogs. There’s also a general category page for science blogs, which is pretty pathetic at the moment (and is particularly lacking in the later part of the alphabet). If you’re so inclined, you could easily fill the whole week by adding and updating Wikipedia pages about science blogs.

Or, you know, you could pick up a heavy book (Misner, Thorne, and Wheeler, say), and hit yourself in the face with it. Repeatedly. Whatever floats your boat.

Anyway, I’m outta here. Don’t make too big a mess while I’m gone…