Category Archives: Science

Dark Matter, Explained

If you’ve ever wondered about dark matter, or been asked puzzled questions about it by your friends, now you have something to point to: this charming video by 11-year-old Lucas Belz-Koeling. (Hat tip Sir Harry Kroto.) The title references “Draw … Continue reading

Posted in Science | 37 Comments

Life Is the Flame of a Candle

Last October I was privileged to be awarded the Emperor Has No Clothes award from the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The physical trophy consists of the dashing statuette here on the right, presumably the titular Emperor. It’s made by the … Continue reading

Posted in Humanity, Philosophy, Religion, Science | 74 Comments

Guest Post: Chip Sebens on the Many-Interacting-Worlds Approach to Quantum Mechanics

I got to know Charles “Chip” Sebens back in 2012, when he emailed to ask if he could spend the summer at Caltech. Chip is a graduate student in the philosophy department at the University of Michigan, and like many … Continue reading

Posted in Guest Post, Philosophy, Science | 55 Comments

Slow Life

Watch and savor this remarkable video by Daniel Stoupin. It shows tiny marine animals in motion — motions that are typically so slow that we would never notice, here enormously sped-up so that humans can appreciate them. Slow Life from … Continue reading

Posted in Arts, Science | 11 Comments

Where Have We Tested Gravity?

General relativity is a rich theory that makes a wide variety of experimental predictions. It’s been tested many ways, and always seems to pass with flying colors. But there’s always the possibility that a different test in a new regime … Continue reading

Posted in arxiv, Science | 32 Comments

Einstein’s Papers Online

If any scientist in recent memory deserves to have every one of their words captured and distributed widely, it’s Albert Einstein. Surprisingly, many of his writings have been hard to get a hold of, especially in English; he wrote an … Continue reading

Posted in Science, Words | 35 Comments


This year we give thanks for a technique that is central to both physics and mathematics: the Fourier transform. (We’ve previously given thanks for the Standard Model Lagrangian, Hubble’s Law, the Spin-Statistics Theorem, conservation of momentum, effective field theory, the … Continue reading

Posted in Math, Science | 26 Comments

The Evolution of Evolution: Gradualism, or Punctuated Equilibrium?

In some ways I’m glad I’m not an evolutionary biologist, even though the subject matter is undoubtedly fascinating and fundamental. Here in the US, especially, it’s practically impossible to have a level-headed discussion about the nature of evolutionary theory. Biologists … Continue reading

Posted in Science | 30 Comments

Ten Questions for the Philosophy of Cosmology

Last week I spent an enjoyable few days in Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands, for a conference on the Philosophy of Cosmology. The slides for all the talks are now online; videos aren’t up yet, but I understand they … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Science | 64 Comments

Planck Speaks: Bad News for Primordial Gravitational Waves?

Ever since we all heard the exciting news that the BICEP2 experiment had detected “B-mode” polarization in the cosmic microwave background — just the kind we would expect to be produced by cosmic inflation at a high energy scale — … Continue reading

Posted in arxiv, Science | 55 Comments