Archive for the ‘Science and Culture’ Category

A new podcast! This one is the world-famous* “Thermostat” story, about my apartment broker, Carl Sagan, a pen, and David Bowie.

* My world, anyway.

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It’s been quiet around here.

Yep. Quiet.

I’d like to say that’s because I’ve been working on other projects, so it’s lucky for me that I have! I’ve been podcasting. Twice. Even better, another one is about to launch!

Introducing The Story Collider.

I’ve teamed up with Brian Wecht, from Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study and Ninja Sex Party, to present evening of true stories. Researchers who think about statistical inference 24/7, comedians who haven’t thought about ecology since frog dissections in high school, and everyone in between will tell stories, live on stage, about the times when, for good or ill, science happened.

Our first show is May 13 at The Creek and The Cave in New York City. Check out our website or Facebook page for more info.

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My second podcast is up at 365 Days of Astronomy. This one is darker, if you couldn’t tell from the title.

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A new medium! I recorded the 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast for today, in which I describe how a broken tooth leads me to discover that The Universe is more terrifying and more exciting than I had imagined.

In the process of recording I discovered that

  1. I love talking.
  2. I hate hate hate hate hate hearing my own voice.

I’m also pretty sure those two points describe 99.9% of humanity. I’ll be doing one of these a month, so hopefully I’ll get over point 2, or at least reduce the number of hates. Luckily, the chance of me getting over point 1 is so insignificant as to be not worth thinking about.

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An emotion is running high as around the world physicists are bracing themselves in anticipation of one of the biggest events of the decade. That emotion is dread, and what they’re bracing themselves against is an enormous flux of annoying questions, because the event is the release of the the movie version of Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons.

The worst part is that, no matter how bad the movie is, we’ll have to see it just to understand the questions.

Fortunately for me Luke McKinney has put together a run-down of the problems with the story at The Daily Galaxy.

The fact that antimatter can create huge explosions is accurate, a rarity in Dan Brown novels…The problem is, if your terrorist organisation has a kilogram of antimatter you’re invincible anyway – because you can fly past security checkpoints on your quantum unicorns and hypnotize targets using The Force.

Read the rest to find out how re-evolving dinosaurs fit in.

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Chirs Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum, among others, are organizing a conference on “The Two Cultures in the 21st Century”, in honor of the 50th anniversary of C.P. Snow’s famous lecture of (roughly) the same name. The two cultures in question are the sciences and the humanities. Snow began an exploration of why there is such a gulf in thinking between people with those backgrounds and what the consequences are. That’s not nearly as academic as it looks: poverty and social policy was the example he chose. Today that’s just as much an issue and we can add things like climate change to the list.

The conference should be fascinating, with speakers like E.O. Wilson, Ann Druyan, and Carl Zimmer. I’ll be there, and hopefully live-blogging.

In the meantime, Chris and Sheril are running a couple book readings to prepare. Chris is hosting a discussion of the “Two Cultures” essay itself. Sheril is leading one on Bonk, Mary Roach’s tour through the science of sex. Both should be a lot of fun.

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neiltysonoriginsa-fullsizeCheers, laughs, heckling — drunken heckling. That’s right, it’s a science lecture.

Deep in The Bell House, near Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal, the Secret Science Club meets. By “secret” and “club” they mean that several hundred people paid the cover and packed the converted warehouse to hear Neil deGrasse Tyson talk about the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of Pluto neé The Ninth Planet, now first among equals in the Kuiper Belt.

With so many scientists and technophiles in the audience it was entirely predictable that the computer and projector wouldn’t talk to each other for the first few minutes. It was also a given that during the Q&A people would ask for validation of crackpot theories of cosmology, or if the world will end in 2012. Everything else was unlike anything I’ve seen before.


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