A photo of an impish Richard Feynman playing the bongos appears in Ray Monk's biography of Oppenheimer. It is accompanied by the caption "Richard Feynman, Julian Schwinger's main rival for the title of greatest American physicist in history"...
When I was in graduate school I once came across a computer program that's used to predict the activities of as yet unsynthesized drug molecules. The program is "trained" on a set of existing drug molecules with known activities (the "training set") and is then used to predict those of an unknown set (the "test set")...
Why are we drawn to tragic heroes much more then to conventional ones? Perhaps because tragic heroes, because of the flaws and ambiguity inherent in their nature, continue to intrigue us long after we have finished admiring the essentially simple and good character of conventional heroes...
If we were omniscient and had infinitely fast and perfect computers, perhaps we could use quantum mechanics to explain chemistry, biology, economics and psychology.
Since we were discussing the differences between climate change "skeptics" and "deniers" (or "denialists", whatever you want to call them) the other day this piece is timely.
Why do people believe in God, ghosts, goblins, spirits, the afterlife and conspiracy theories? Two common threads running through these belief systems are what skeptic Michael Shermer in his insightful book “The Believing Brain” calls “ patternicity ” and “ agenticity ”...
This post is really a question. Over the past few years, ever since the climate change debate, well, heated up, the words "skeptic" and "denier" have been thrown around on countless websites and blogs, usually accompanied by much frothing at the mouth...
Energy efficiency sounds like a good idea on multiple fronts; mitigating global warming, reducing dependence on foreign oil and saving money. Conservatives and liberals may disagree about the first reason, but you would expect both of them to enthusiastically embrace energy efficiency based on the other two reasons...
Over the last two days I had a pleasant exchange with a 7th grader from California who wanted to know more about nuclear energy for a school project.
Yesterday I wrote a post about a perspective by multifaceted chemist George Whitesides in which he urged chemists to broaden the boundaries of their discipline and think of big picture problems...
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