Tag: Science

Sarah Rose Siskind is a science comedy writer, psychedelic educator, comedian, and co-founder of Hello SciCom, a company that combines science communication and comedy to help scientists and tech companies revamp their content. She and Bridget discuss homelessness, how little we knew in our 20s, sobriety & pharmaceuticals, why D.A.R.E. is a terrible program, pandemic-induced anxiety, why mental health issues are like spousal abuse, and why people shouldn’t treat weed as a cure-all. They swap crazy Burning Man stories, discuss classism, agree that art is one of the things humans do right, commiserate over comedian-brain, and highlight the importance of knowing your audience in any given situation.

The Best of the Great Courses


I listened to my first Teaching Company courses, now known as The Great Courses, over 20 years ago. A dear friend suggested that I listen to The Great Ideas of Philosophy by Prof. Daniel N. Robinson. It was magnificent, and I soon had finished ALL of Prof. Robinson’s courses: The Great Ideas of Psychology, Consciousness and Its Implications, Greek Legacy: Classical Origins of the Modern World, and American Ideals: Founding a “Republic of Virtues.” Every course was incredibly illuminating.

In college, I could count the number of Great professors on one hand: my Trig/Statistics/Calculus professor, an American History professor, and the great David Bell, an English professor. Daniel N. Robinson had all the qualities of a great teacher, primarily the ability to present a survey class, like The Great Ideas of Philosophy, which included the Western philosophers from the pre-Socratics into the 20th century, as if he were a full believer of the philosopher on whom he was lecturing.

I have since listened to (and occasionally viewed, but I much prefer listening while driving or walking) dozens more. Here is a list of some of the other professors I find to be great, “great” meaning I will listen to their courses again and again with unfailing pleasure.

Heather Heying is a scientist, educator and author. She and Bridget discuss the possibility of a vaccine passport and why they’re so unsettled by the idea. They reflect that nothing good comes from being told that in order to do something you have to show your papers, that once you give up a certain amount of liberty or power, it’s much more difficult to get it back, how being against the idea of a vaccine passport does not make you an anti-vaxxer, and the dangers of being called a conspiracy theorist when you dare to ask questions. They also cover the death of credibility, why you should spend time in nature moving fast, how it’s easy to radicalize people when they’re lost, why Joe Rogan is so awesome, and why we should all remember that on some level, we’re all self-righteous hypocrites. Be sure to check out Heather’s podcast with her husband Bret Weinstein, DarkHorse Podcast.

The Computer Age Turns 75


In February 1946, the first general-purpose electronic computer, the ENIA, was introduced to the public. Nothing like ENIAC had been seen before, and the unveiling of the computer, a room-filling machine with lots of flashing lights and switches–made quite an impact.

ENIAC (the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) was created primarily to help with the trajectory-calculation problems for artillery shells and bombs, a problem that was requiring increasing numbers of people for manual computations. John Mauchly, a physics professor attending a summer session at the University of Pennsylvania, and J Presper Eckert, a 24-year-old grad student, proposed the machine after observing the work of the women (including Mauchly’s wife Mary) who had been hired to assist the Army with these calculations. The proposal made its way to the Army’s liason with Penn, and that officer, Lieutenant Herman Goldstine, took up the project’s cause. (Goldstine apparently heard about the proposal not via formal university channels but via a mutual friend, which is an interesting point in our present era of remote work.) Electronics had not previously been used for digital computing, and a lot of authorities thought an electromechanical machine would be a better and safer bet.

On the Nature of Poetry


Its stuff that rhymes. Only it doesn’t always rhyme. Usually the stuff that doesn’t rhyme is bad, but then if you look at poetry in other languages and traditions sometimes it doesn’t even rhyme at all. Hmm… maybe I should back up a bit. What I’d like to do is try and characterize poetry from a scientific perspective. That means I’ll be observing three samples of poetry captured in the wild to see what we can learn about them. Let’s move right to the first:

I come home during the 2016 campaign and @MattBalzer says to me “Hillary Clinton just called Trump supporters a ‘basket of deplorables.'” You know how I responded? “I don’t often have a good word to say about Hillary Clinton, but that’s a good phrase right there.”

The Emperor’s New Mind


Mathematical truth is not a horrendously complicated dogma whose validity is beyond our comprehension. -Sir Rodger Penrose

The Emperor’s New Mind is Sir Roger Penrose’s argument that you can’t get a true AI by merely piling silicon atop silicon. To explain why he needs a whole book in which he summarizes most math and all physics. Even for a geek like me, someone who’s got the time on his hands and a fascination with these things it gets a bit thick. While delving into the vagaries of light cones or the formalism of Hilbert space in quantum mechanics it’s easy to wonder “wait, what does this have to do with your main argument?” Penrose has to posit new physics in order to support his ideas, and he can’t explain those ideas unless you the reader have a sufficient grasp of how the old physics works. Makes for a frustrating read though.

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It seems our planet Earth is rotating around its axis faster than it has in decades. (Something to do with its core, the motions of oceans, and its atmosphere.  I’ll leave it to others to explain the nuts and bolts of it).  Since the definition of a “day” is tied to the completion of a […]

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My Covid Adventure


In early December, I got Covid – the Wuhan Flu, ChiCom Fever. This is the disease that has California and New York locked down. The one that has us cowering in fear. (That’s not a joke. I have several otherwise-sane friends, who are locking themselves in the house, venturing out only when they have to. Two are MENSA members.)

What was it like? Are you ready?

Signs of the Times


I’ve grown to hate walking through my suburban Atlanta neighborhood. The unease has been building for years, but in the insane year of 2020, the tipping point has been reached. The misguidedness of too many of my neighbors can no longer be tolerated. The only thing that gives me comfort now is the knowledge that very soon I’ll be leaving for “redder” pastures.

Who knew that beneath the leafy, idyllic exterior of my suburban redoubt lurked so many hearts – or rather, minds – of darkness. I won’t say “hearts” because, after all, they mean well.

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A family history of Type 2 Diabetes (T2D), consistent weight gain, and a very high triglycerides to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol ratio (TG:HDL) motivated me to research obesity and T2D. What follows is a brief and almost certainly over-simplified summary of what I have found. Normally, our body is very good at balancing energy, feeling hungry […]

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The Archie McPhee Odd Candy Taste Test


This last Sunday, Eustace C. Scrubb posted about his foray into the strange world of Archie McPhee. He posted several rather odd flavors of candy cane that one can find at Archie McPhee. Now, I have long been a connoisseur of Archie McPhee’s fine offerings of useless crap and odd foods. I once gave my brother a yodeling pickle (wearing lederhosen, no less) from Archie McPhee.¹ It is a place where one will not find items in good taste. Occasionally, they do offer things that taste good, but kale-flavored candy canes may not be in that category.

Still, I am a man of adventure. I decided to take the challenge and try some of the offerings. Most of the flavors of candy canes also come as hard candies in tins. This offers several advantages, but the main one is that they are individually-wrapped, bite-sized pieces. Candy canes, even for a mouth the size of mine, do not tend to be bite-sized. I ordered five flavors of their candies.

Journalist and former academic Dr. Deborah Soh joined host Ben Domenech to discuss how she takes a scientific and research-based approach to debunking the most common misconceptions about gender identity. Soh compiled her research in her new book, “The End of Gender: Debunking the Myths about Sex and Identity in Our Society.”

Soh said she’s grateful to no longer be in the academic world, where everyone is required to accept so many scientific mistruths as facts. As a liberal herself, Soh said the evolution of gender identity has been used by the radical left to further a narrative that’s harmful to children and not based in science.

Scott Atlas joined Ben Domenech to discuss the data surrounding schools reopening and the dangers of not following the science. Atlas is a fellow in scientific philosophy and public policy at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, a member of Hoover’s Working Group on Health Care Policy, and the former head of neuroradiology at Stanford Medical School.

Atlas laid out multiple points of scientific evidence indicating the necessity of reopening schools. This included the documented facts that children are young people are at low risk of developing COVID-19 themselves and they’re at low risk of spreading it to others. Furthermore, he said, school closures are extremely harmful to children’s health in different ways, especially in that distance learning has proven to be a failure.

Einstein, Ether Strings, and Millikan on the Electron


In the early years of the last century, R.A. Millikan measured the charge of the electron. He was one of the greatest experimentalists to ever live, not only isolating and measuring something so incredibly small but doing other important work with things like cosmic rays. As such, when I saw he had a book, named The Electron, I figured he ought to know a thing or two about the subject. He did; it’s a complete, informative, and up-to-date book, so long as that date occurs within World War I.

The book has been eye-opening, not because of the new physics, but because of all the outmoded and discarded theories that he mentions and dismisses on the way. What if electrons didn’t have a fixed charge, but a statistical distribution that averaged out to what we think of as a fixed charge? This was a viable theory until Millikan disproved it looking at his oil droplets. What really got me though was when he spent his last chapter describing wave-particle duality. Only there was no such thing when he wrote the book. At that point all modern physics had was a real head-scratcher of a problem. Sample quote:

Some Perspective on Viruses


For sixth-grade science, I like to use a text called The Universe in My Hands, which is “a general science course in which the elements of the material universe are ordered by size and the student is introduced to the disciplines of the science as a function of their sizes.” The student encounters the universe by ordering things according to their magnitude. You and I, for example, as humans, are on the order of 1 x 10^0 meters (one times ten to the zero power), which we call the Zero Order of Magnitude, or [0].

A cat is smaller than that, at the 1 x 10^-1 meters or [-1] Order of Magnitude. A marble is at the [-2] scale. A human cell is at the [-5], and a virus is at the [-7], or 2 orders of magnitude smaller than a human cell.

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“We had to destroy the village in order to save it.” Remember this alleged quote from an unnamed military source during the Viet Nam War?  Well known New Zealand-born reporter, Peter Arnett, has asserted that this quotation was something that an “American major said to me in a moment of revelation.”  This major was allegedly […]

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One of our Resistance Library readers reached out to us recently and shared a BBC article that they found interesting. They said it reminded them of our piece Prescription For Violence: The Corresponding Rise of Antidepressants, SSRIs & Mass Shootings and thought it supported some of the connections made there.   They’ve been linked to road rage, pathological gambling, and […]

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Recently a couple of articles on recent or impending scientific breakthroughs were posted in the PIT. I thought it might be interesting to get members’ takes on one of them, and what it might mean for future society, both in general and in specifics. The first involved a physicist who claims to have proved mathematically […]

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