Weird (Pseudo)Science: Alchemy

Alchemy is one of those pieces of history that refuses to stay in the past. Remnants of alchemy lurk all around us today, in astrological signs, the classical four elements (air, water, earth, and fire), and the recently repopularized Philosopher’s Stone. Most of these are tiny details, fragments of what was once an incredibly complex philosophy millennia … Continue reading Weird (Pseudo)Science: Alchemy

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GPS Alternatives: The South-Pointing Chariot

One of last week's Google doodles was in honor of the 115th anniversary of the discovery of the Antikythera mechanism. This is a fascinating device that many people consider to be one of the earliest analog computers (using physical processes or quantities instead of symbols to keep track of information) and it definitely deserves its own … Continue reading GPS Alternatives: The South-Pointing Chariot

Science in Fiction: Madeleine L’Engle and Cell Biology

Today's science-in-fiction is on the edge between sci-fi and fantasy, but it undeniably uses scientific knowledge in interesting ways. You may decide I'm stretching the limits of my criteria on this one, but I hope I'll convince you that it belongs on the list, and not just because it was formative for me personally. (That … Continue reading Science in Fiction: Madeleine L’Engle and Cell Biology

How We Hear (or, An Introduction to Fourier Analysis)

(Thanks to my dad for suggesting this topic! It's perfect—scientific, interesting, beautiful, and such a wonderful and wonder-full part of our experience of life.) Generally speaking, our sensory organs are things of wonder. Not to say that we don't understand what's going on with them—increasingly, we do—but that doesn't make them any less marvelous. Our skin, … Continue reading How We Hear (or, An Introduction to Fourier Analysis)

Science in Fiction: Blake Crouch and Parallel Universes

I said when I first started these occasional posts on science in fiction that it wouldn’t always be hard science, and today’s post is a great example of that. I'll be talking about parallel universes as depicted in Blake Crouch’s novel Dark Matter. (It has nothing to do with the cosmological concept of dark matter, so … Continue reading Science in Fiction: Blake Crouch and Parallel Universes

See Luke Read: Star Wars and the Post-Literacy Debate

In honor of May the Fourth, also known as Star Wars Day, I wanted to write about something Star Wars-related. I've previously expressed my relative lack of interest in critiquing the scientific accuracy of any specific element like lightsabers or thermal exhaust ports, so I didn't want to do that. I considered writing about the … Continue reading See Luke Read: Star Wars and the Post-Literacy Debate