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The Curious Wavefunction

The Curious Wavefunction

Musings on chemistry and the history and philosophy of science
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    Ashutosh Jogalekar Ashutosh (Ash) Jogalekar is a chemist interested in the history and philosophy of science. He considers science to be a seamless and all-encompassing part of the human experience. Follow on Twitter @curiouswavefn.
  • New pastures, new opportunities, an old home

    As T. S. Eliot put it, “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” And so I return back to where I started way back in 2004, to the original “Curious Wavefunction” blog. I wish [...]

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    Richard Feynman, sexism and changing perceptions of a scientific icon

    Feynman playing the bongos (Image:

    [Note from Blogs Editor Curtis Brainard: On Saturday, July 12 the text of this post was replaced with the following statement: "The text of this post has been removed because it did not meet Scientific American's quality standards." To be specific, we felt that the post lacked clarity in a manner similar to two previous [...]

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    Gavrilo Princip, conspiracy theories and the fragility of cause and effect


    A hundred years ago this day in Sarajevo, disgruntled nationalist Gavrilo Princip fired a shot. An Archduke and his wife died, the world mourned and fulminated, and in a rash of misunderstanding and patriotic throes the nations of Europe went to war with each other, a war that in its calculated butchery exceeded all that [...]

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    New Vertex drug combination for cystic fibrosis represents a triumph of drug discovery research

    Kalydeco, a breakthrough treatment for treating cystic fibrosis (Image:

    Getting a drug from conception to market is among the riskiest, hardest and most expensive of scientific and human endeavors, often requiring up to ten years of effort and anywhere between 1 and 5 billion dollars. And the chances of failure at every step are greater than in almost any other complex science or technology [...]

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    Oppenheimer’s Folly: On black holes, fundamental laws and pure and applied science

    Einstein and Oppenheimer: Both men in their later years dismissed black holes as anomalies, unaware that black holes contain some of the deepest mysteries of physics (Image: Alfred Eisenstaedt, LIFE magazine)

    On September 1, 1939, the same day that Germany attacked Poland and started World War 2, a remarkable paper appeared in the pages of the journal Physical Review. In it J. Robert Oppenheimer and his student Hartland Snyder laid out the essential characteristics of what we today call the black hole. Building on work done [...]

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    Molecular modeling and physics: A tale of two disciplines

    For its development physics relies both on time for understanding and on multiple other disciplines that make tools like the LHC possible (Image: Universe Today)

    In my professional field of molecular modeling and drug discovery I often feel like an explorer who has arrived on the shores of a new continent with a very sketchy map in his pocket. There are untold wonders to be seen on the continent and the map certainly points to a productive direction in which [...]

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    Philosophy begins where physics ends, and physics begins where philosophy ends

    Richard Feynman - Philosopher (Image: Washington University)

    Physicist Sean Carroll has some words of wisdom for physicists who might have less than complimentary things to say about philosophy. The most recent altercation between a physicist and philosophy came from Neil deGrasse Tyson who casually disparaged philosophy in a Q&A session, saying that it can be a time sink and it doesn’t actually [...]

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    Making nuclear energy cheap: The view from the Breakthrough Institute

    A very high temperature reactor (VHTR) design created for higher efficiency (Image: Wikipedia)

    I have been wanting to highlight this review of strategies to make nuclear energy cheap and efficient from the Breakthrough Institute for a while. The report contains many cogent recommendations and projects a promising future for nuclear power if the right steps are taken. What I like about it is that it takes a kind [...]

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    Outstanding Verizon ad admonishes parents to not squelch their daughters’ interest in science

    At a time when we are still seeing subtle and not-so-subtle opposition to fostering young girls’ interest in STEM disciplines and to women’s mobility in professional science, it’s encouraging to see this ad from Verizon asking parents to not squelch their daughters’ natural curiosity. Take a look at it. The ad follows a narrative that [...]

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    Truth and beauty in science

    Philip Ball who is one of my favorite science writers has a thoughtful rumination on the constant tussle between beauty and truth in science. Ball argues that the expectation of beauty as a guide to scientific truth is quite uncertain and messy and successes are anecdotal, and I tend to agree with him. There are [...]

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