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Hontas FarmerRSS Feed of this column.

Currently I am an adjunct professor at the College of DuPage. My research focuses on astrophysics from massive star formation to astroparticle physics. Born and raised in Chicagoland I have lived... Read More »


Trump did not know science neither does his opposition.  Mask work, social distancing works, copious rapid testing works but no one or two or all of these things are a ironclad guarantee one will not get sick.  Keeping six feet apart reduces your chance of getting sick by a certain fraction, as does mask wearing, as would testing everyone.  We can reduce that probability of infection to a single digit percentage.  No one, no matter how righteously they believe, will be completely immune.   

What is math and is math real?   Math is the language of physics right down to figuring out what one hand full of fingers plus another hand full of fingers is.  Right down to a duck counting her ducklings even animals know that level of mathematics.  More advanced mathematics like algebra, calculus… or the rules of matrix arithmetic, are all set up so that they will be consistent with the math we see in real everyday numbers.  It is a matter of figuring out who got more fish to eat, or who has more cattle.  

How many apples are there?

Mainstream “news” has a problem. Reporters for more traditional big name organizations no longer need to present actual proof of anything they report.  The reason mainstream reporters do this is to feed the beast of the 24-72 hour news cycle.  The most recent “revelations” by “anonymous sources” regarding alleged statements by President Trump exemplify this issue. It is a story which fits the preconception that he does not respect veterans, but there is a huge difference between going after a political opponent who happens to be a vet and insulting dead WWI or WWII soldiers.

Standard English exist because not everyone in the world who uses English is a native speaker of English.  According to a group of English writing instructors it is racist to expect that in formal academic writing expecting standard English is racist.    In this one scientist opinion that is factually incorrect. 

What are the best computing devices for online classes?  As an adjunct professor here is my opinion on what makes for a good computer for online courses, and a few suggestions of which computers to buy.  The key factors to consider are compatibility with commonly used software.  Flexibility in terms of input, portability, and price.   Considerations like raw computing power are not necessarily part of this calculation though more power is a plus.

Unification of General Relativity with Quantum Field Theory is the greatest mystery of physics, the holy grail of theoretical physics, and also a graveyard of theories. Everyone who has chosen has chosen poorly so far. Working on this problem from another point of view than the usual one I have been lead to the same basic insight as is found in string theory. That at some fundamental level the universe can be described exactly given either enough harmonic oscillators, or the right set of variables in which the behavior is that of a harmonic oscillator.