Leaders of science organizations say they're being shunned by the Trump administration. “I’ve never seen the scientific community so concerned,” said [physicist and former Congressman] Rush Holt, chief executive of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “This goes way beyond funding. When fake news is accepted as just one of the alternate approaches, then there are serious problems to be addressed.” Related: Professor Smith Goes to Washington: In response to the new president’s stances on a range of issues, more scientists are preparing to run for political office.
Here's Why Some Scientists Refuse To Just 'Stick To Science.' Related: Scientists must fight for the facts, per Nature's editorial. Also: The War on Facts Is a War on Democracy: In a time when facts don’t matter, and science is being muzzled, American democracy is the real victim. Bonus: They Might Be Giants sing "Science Is Real": "A scientific theory isn't just a hunch or guess--it's more like a question that's been put through a lot of tests."
Silencing Scientists: A Recent History. Related: Government scientists at a U.S. climate conference were vocally terrified to speak with The Intercept's Sharon Lerner. Also: The Trump administration may get away with violating scientific integrity policy. But it’s not immune to whistleblowers.
Looking back at Canada's political fight over science. The country’s last prime minister prevented some scientists from talking to the media, while making cuts to research budgets. Related: What the US Can Learn From Canada's Battle With an Anti-Science Government. Also: A survivor's guide to being a muzzled scientist.
Scientists Are Planning the Next Big Washington March. Related: Science march planners, here’s some unsolicited advice. According to Michael Lubell of the American Physical Society: "Make it a march about science, not scientists."
When government censors or eliminates science, it's because the science tells you things about their policy that they don't want you to know https://t.co/L1lUS916tn— Robert McNees (@mcnees) January 26, 2017
Why Science Is So Hard to Believe. Must-read article by the Washington Post's Joel Achenbach. "It’s their very detachment, what you might call the cold-bloodedness of science, that makes science the killer app. It’s the way science tells us the truth rather than what we’d like the truth to be. Scientists can be as dogmatic as anyone else — but their dogma is always wilting in the hot glare of new research. In science it’s not a sin to change your mind when the evidence demands it. For some people, the tribe is more important than the truth; for the best scientists, the truth is more important than the tribe."
How Islamic scholars saved knowledge (and science). "After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the eastern part of the empire, what would become the Byzantine Empire, continued to flourish. Within the Byzantine Empire, Islamic scholars still did science. More importantly, the ancient texts, those not destroyed by the guys with the shiny belt buckles and fondness for pre-literate ignorance, were copied and preserved. Had this not happened, we would have lost even more of the advances of antiquity."
Karl Popper on Truth vs. Certainty. "Knowledge consists in search for truth. It is not the search for certainty.” Related: The Coin Toss and the Love Triangle: There are two flavors of uncertainty in our lives. Math helps with both.
Destabilizing nuclear rhetoric, from just two men, has pushed the Doomsday Clock closer to midnight. “This is the closest to midnight the Doomsday Clock has ever been in the lifetime of almost everyone in this room.”
So, yanno, enjoy the science while you can.
I wrote a short article for New Scientist on how a plasma tidal wave (technically a black hole analog, or plasma mirror) may tell us if black holes destroy information. Related: Nobody Knows Where A Black Hole's Information Goes. Also: Exotic black holes caught turning into a superfluid.
Another way to think about what Schrödinger's cat tells us.
No urban legend: Our rooftops are collecting stardust. Guitarist helps show a longstanding belief among amateur astronomers is correct.
Artist Nicholas Rougeux Transforms Sentences From Classic Literature Into Constellations. "In the constellations, the first word of a sentence is a starburst. From there, every subsequent word juts off at an angle from the previous one, with the angle determined by the part of speech." [Image: a cut-out from the constellation map for James Joyce’s Dubliners. Credit: Nicholas Rougeux]
How life — and death — spring from disorder: Life was long thought to obey its own set of rules. But as simple systems show signs of lifelike behavior, scientists are arguing about whether this apparent complexity is all a consequence of thermodynamics.
An applied mathematician discovers geometric logic in Colorado's Sun Temple ruins.
A Nanotech Breakthrough Could Generate True Holograms. Transparent rods 500 times thinner than a human hair are bringing us one step closer to free-floating, 3-D images. Related: Australian Scientists Are Creating Star Wars Inspired Holograms.
Physicists patent detonation technique to mass-produce graphene.
Behold, physics! The Expanse has one thing a lot of sci-fi doesn’t: actual science.
Let’s all geek out on the physics of that Leyden Jar you saw in MacGyver.
The Multiple Multiverses May Be One and the Same. Related: The Many Mice Theory of Quantum Mechanics. Hugh Everett "believed that science should not make ontological claims concerning the unobservable." Also: Fictional multiverses are frankly kind of lame. And sorry, Eleven, but psychic powers won't transport you to another world.
How The Anthropic Principle Became The Most Abused Idea In Science.
Researchers have unveiled a cool laser memory storage device that writes data 1,000 x faster than today’s hard drives, but the technique is still a long way off for everyday use.
CERN's electrocuted weasel (technically a stone marten) to go on display among other animals that met unnatural deaths. Related: The Robots of CERN: TIM (the Train Inspection Monorail) and other mechanical friends tackle jobs humans shouldn’t.
The Secret History of the First Cat in Space.
In NASA Study, Twin Astronauts Show Stresses of Space Travel. Early results from examinations of NASA's Scott and Mark Kelly reveal alterations to gene expression during spaceflight.
NASA's New Astronaut Suits Are Straight Out of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Scientists Want to Brew Beer on the Moon. One small step for hops, one giant leap for malt-kind.
January 27 was the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 1 fire. Here's why we must push on, says the Bad Astronomer. Related: Heat and Ashes: The Untold Story of the Apollo 1 Fire. Also: The hell of Apollo 1: "I heard them scream get me out of here. And then there was dead silence on the pad."
Great wagers in physics history: Two of the most powerful words in science might just be “Wanna bet?”
Math is Beautiful: Artist Hamid Naderi Yeganeh can generate 1000s of unique, intricate images per day using mathematical formulas. “I change the formulas to find better shapes. But I don’t know anything about the results of the programs before running them. For example, I found [the] boat and animals accidentally,” he writes. [Image: Hamid Naderi Yeganeh]
How to Build a Probability Microscope: The surprising mathematics of the extremely rare.
Wanna Learn About Vectors? Just Let Python Do the Work.
Why it’s a big deal that AI knows how to bluff in poker: Playing poker involves dealing with imperfect information.
A rather strange forensic medical report: "An unusual case of murder–suicide: The importance of studying knots."
A Guide to Mathematical Emotions: "Nanotriumph: a small but nonzero victory."
Lewis Carroll, born January 27, 1832, offers 3 steps to overcoming creative block in mathematics and life. Related: For Lewis Carroll's birthday, Alice in Quantumland – an allegory of quantum physics inspired by Alice in Wonderland.
Worth the trip: a pilgrimage to experience Bellingham, Washington’s MegaZapper--a giant Tesla coil.
Use lollipop licker variation to design a way to figure out how many licks to the center of a tootsie pop.
This towering cloud of dust is known as a haboob, and while it appears apocalyptic, it is relatively common.
Cipher War: Machine learning could finally crack the 4,000-year-old Indus script.
How To Use Math To Pick A Favorite Football Team.
Scientists are starting to tally the environmental impact of quantum dots.
A Nuclear Energy Company Wants to Build America’s First Small Modular Reactor.
World's main list of predatory science journals vanishes with no warning. "Jeffrey Beall discovered thousands of online science journals that were either willing to publish fake research for cash, or just so inept that they couldn’t tell the good from the bad and published it all."
Why Renaissance Astronomer Tycho Brahe Is Still a Star.
Pepper’s last optical illusion: metempsychosis.
Cool constellation wine glasses decorated with night sky star charts
What a Cup of Coffee Can Teach People About Entropy and the Nature of the Universe.
The mathematics of sidewalk illusions.
Feel-good fractals: from ocean waves to Jackson Pollock’s art. See also my own 2011 post on the Pollock fractal debate. Related: Are all fractals self-similar? No. But nearly all have noninteger "fractal dimension."
Kill the Mathematical Hydra: How do you defeat a creature that grows two heads for every one head you chop off? You do the math.
Zooming in on a tooth until you can see individual atoms.
Vsauce Host Michael Stevens and Adam Savage Build a Near Perfect Brachistochrone Track.
“What is it like to get struck by lightning? The Physics Girl asks her dad who’s been struck…TWICE.
Finally, artist Landon Ross and Sean Carroll (a.k.a. The Time Lord) collaborated on a project, then chatted about the art/science interface. Worth 50 minutes of your time. IMHO.