Random Thoughts

George Clooney used to copy my haircuts.

People who knew me in the 1990s always marveled at my classic, parted-on-the-side, immaculately coiffed style. It was retro, just like the term "marvelous' is today. Prior to that, I had a classic Caesar no-part look. He showed up in the television show "E.R." sporting that and I dismissed it as coincidence but when he then jumped onto my "Mad Men without the goop" look, I became suspicious and switched again, to a slicked-back "1980s martial arts villain" look, before changing to what I have now; a random part, more California, less Northeast serious. When you are young, it is a struggle to be taken seriously in the physics and engineering world but I am older now, so it's all cowboy boots and casual.


Charles Hard Townes (AP Photo)

Charles Townes has a lot going for him; he just saw his 99th birthday and 500 people showed up to cheer for him. He has a Nobel prize and a younger wife - Frances is 98.

Oh, and he invented the laser, which just about everyone on planet Earth has heard of.

Mission Accomplished. Now it's time to go back home.

After two space shuttle missions and almost two decades, astronaut Mike Massimino has left NASA for Columbia University in New York. During the final servicing mission of the Hubble Space Telescope in 2009, Massimino became the first astronaut to tweet from space, and he now has nearly 1.3 million followers.


"Going Deep" With David Rees premieres tonight on National Geographic Channel and if you have little time to decide whether or not to watch it, you are in luck because I can be brief - it's a good show.

"Going Deep" is fun for all ages and levels of expertise because he starts into the concepts and then really goes deep, just like he says he will.

How deep is science writing these days? Pretty darn deep.

Way back when Science 2.0 started there were not a lot of great science writers. There were well-known ones, but not great ones. Journalism was in flux and mainstream media didn't respect it much, and scientists respected science journalism even less than media corporations did. The best writers just didn't go into science journalism. One of the reasons that a pillar of the Science 2.0 mission was revamping science 'communication' was because the public had stopped respecting journalists and scientists felt like they got a lot of things wrong. If science journalism couldn't win Pulitzer Prizes, at least it could be accurate and that meant making scientists the journalists.

ZOOLOGISTS ANNOUNCED THE discovery of a tiny, super-cute new primate which can kill a human by licking its elbow. I am not making this up. 

The new species of loris found in the Philippines has a poison gland at its elbow, says the American Journal of Primatology. If the creature feels threatened, it attempts to grabs a slurp of poison before biting the attacker.

American science media is constantly going on about evolution and climate change deniers - sometimes even inventing assaults on evolution that don't exist - but when it comes to quasi-religious beliefs about energy and medical science, we get a whole slew of rationalizations about how people just don't trust corporations, or they have ethical issues or whatever.

And then there's food. The intellectual food obfuscation in order to avoid discussing the obvious demographic that embrace food pseudoscience is truly dizzying. American Shamanism is alive and well and its temples are in a Whole Foods store.
Burned Plan

Burned Plan

Jun 10 2014 | 2 comment(s)

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves….” Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Act 1, scene 2.
Our fire problem has been a long time in the making. It did not happen overnight. We will not fix it overnight, perhaps we never will.

 Library of Congress. Coeur d'Alene National Forest, Idaho. Photo taken between 1909 and 1920. Photo Credit: Library of Congress.
The World Cup is fast approaching and with it come no end to projections, estimations and forecasts about who is going to do what. 

Using a Bayes analysis, once you reach the semifinal you have a 50 percent chance of being correct - just like flipping a coin. But can it work before then? Yes, is you do enough simulations.  But before you fire up your copy of Championship Manager and try to play 100 times, there is an easier solution.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has announced that the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is accepting applications for projects related to  abandoned mine drainage projects .

You'll have to be a non-profit or a government agency to get government money - the groups most likely to be able to do something on budget are prohibited from applying to get a grant from taxpayers.