Random Thoughts

Apres un long silence

Apres un long silence, dont je ne chercherai pas a m'excuser,
j'ai le plaisir de vous communiquer ...

After a long silence, for which I will not try to apologize,
I am pleased to inform you ...

On the Electricity excited by the mere Contact of conducting substances of different kinds. 
In a letter from Mr. Alexander Volta, F.R.S. Professor of Natural Philosophy in the University of Pavia, to the Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph Banks, Bart. K.B. P.R.S.
Read to the Royal Society June 26, l800
To those who follow my twitter account: my account was hacked over a week ago, and only today could I get it back to work (the twitter support team is not -hehm- a prize-winning one).

So while I am busy deleting the >200 tweets that were (I believe automatically) posted there, you can safely add me back if you (understandably) masked me out.
When I was a kid, I would happily play around with both words and numbers – I still do. Both have their aesthetic appeal. Whether it is constructing and deconstructing mathematical puzzles or cryptic crosswords, they appear as small artefacts that reveal a grander architecture. Combine this with the serendipity of the internet, and Pi Day was just a hop, skip and jump away from Richard Feynman and pilish poetry.
I've determined that I won't write blogs about dumb science unless I encounter at least three in a row.  I probably won't actually adhere to that, but it seemed like a convenient excuse to write this piece.

For the record, the first two were about gambling as serving an evolutionary function and that elite athletes are cognitively elite also.  

As usual, these either resembled more "just-so" stories, or they represented totally obvious irrelevancies under the guise that something substantive was being stated.
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio has been chosen as Pope Francis, leader of the Holy See in Rome. That's all well and good, it's nice that heavily-Catholic South America is getting its due and I found it interesting that a Jesuit chose to name himself after a Franciscan.
Are you a science undergraduate or graduate student (or even a post-doc) who has discovered you love science but aren't crazy about the idea of doing research in a narrow field? 

Science is a big place and there are lots of other ways to be in the world of research without doing research. On  February 7th, 2013, Dr. Alex Berezow, microbiologist and editor of RealClearScience, explained how you can transition from the laboratory to the newsroom in a talk held at the University of Washington.

Obviously many of the insights can apply to anyone in science who wants to do their own outreach as well.
I believe in the wisdom of crowds.

If I take one PhD in science and ask them to guess the number of pennies in a jar, it's not going to be close, but if I ask 1,000 regular people to guess, the mean average of their answers is going to be eerily accurate.
Legislation to restrict guns is a lot like legislation to restrict abortion - it's a tough sell at the federal level because of that pesky Constitution so it requires a friendly court and and a lot of lawyers. States, of course, can do it more easily. Some states have ways to restrict abortions and some states have ways to restrict guns.

Gun restriction proponents like Vice-President Joe Biden would probably like to restrict abortions too. America is the only civilized country that still allows late-term abortions on demand, but abortion doctors don't rush into schools and go on an abortion spree so score one for abortion fans.
Next Sunday Italians will vote to change the composition of the two houses of parliament: the "lower" Camera dei Deputati and "upper" Senato della Repubblica. And as often happens with Italian politics, things are complicated. So, despite this site is mostly visited for other reasons than trivialities about politics in foreign countries, I thought I would provide here my own short-sighted, biased panorama of the situation.

If you are a long-time Thor comic book reader, you know Thor's hammer used to be really, really heavy. That means Thor used to be really, really strong. 

Somewhere along the way Big Hulk lobbyists decided that the green guy should be the strongest character in Marvel comics,so writers gave him both virtually unlimited strength and decided that Thor's hammer, the creatively-named Mjolnir (doesn't it just sound like Norse should sound?) was magic, and that is why only he could lift it.  He wasn't the strongest guy around any more, which left it with being supernatural, kind of a cop-out even to me as a kid.