Fake Banner
A Tribute To Richard Feynman: Feynman Point Pilish Poems 2013

Richard Feynman was born on 11 May 1918. Today would have been his 95th birthday. This isn’t...

The Math-e-Monday Puzzle: Squares from a Tetrahedral Die

It isn’t Monday, but I’m puzzled every day of the week.Alice is puzzled too; she’s playing...

The Math-e-Monday Puzzle: Infinite Packings Within Finite Figures

After the scramble to get out of jail, here are some questions about imprisoned shapes! In my last...

Solution to The Jailer's Revenge

The solution to the Jailer’s Revenge question is fairly lengthy, so I think it warrants a separate...

User picture.
picture for Hank Campbellpicture for Camillo Di Ciccopicture for Sascha Vongehrpicture for Helen Barrattpicture for Evgeni Starikovpicture for Michael White
Richard MankiewiczRSS Feed of this column.

I used to be lots of things, but all people see now is a red man. The universe has gifted me a rare autoimmune skin condition known as erythroderma, or exfoliative dermatitis. The idiopathic version... Read More »

"I love cake.  Cake is wonderful.  But it is too easy to get caught up in the idea of cake.  When you compare the data, it is clear that pie is a better choice. " And so Hyperbole and a Half launches into a hilarious scientific analysis of this deeply important issue. A parody of a powerpoint presentation proves the superiority of pie versus cake.

I found it about a week ago and forgot to post it, but as it made me smile on second reading I hope others will appreciate the insanity. And who said science writing was in peril?
Here is an amusing quote from novelist Philip Pullman.
At the 2010 Oxford Literature Festival, on the early afternoon of Palm Sunday, March 28th, in Oxford's Sheldonian Theatre, Philip Pullman gave a talk on his book "The Good Man Jesus and The Scoundrel Christ".

The last Questioner of the session quietly asked (paraphrased) :

"To call the son of god a scoundrel is an awful&offensive thing to say"

To which, the author calmly replied :

"Yes it was a shocking thing to say, and I knew it was a shocking thing to say.
But no one has the right to live without being shocked.
No one has the right to spend their lives without being offended.
In my article on brain waves and consciousness I looked at some research associating gamma wave activity with consciousness. This is, however, a controversial area in that other researchers have found that such gamma activity is also correlated with eye movements known as saccades: these are the small eye movements that the brain edits out so that we do not perceive the world as a blur as we switch focus. So, are brain gamma waves merely a byproduct of saccadic movements or are they correlated with consciousness or, potentially, both?
What is Nature’s Worst Design?

Francisco Ayala Answers:

"The human reproductive system. Twenty percent of pregnancies end in spontaneous abortions and miscarriages in the first two months. In the world, that’s 20 million abortions per year. Twenty million abortions per year? You wouldn’t want to blame God for that."
"Francisco J. Ayala, an evolutionary geneticist and molecular biologist who has vigorously opposed the entanglement of science and religion while also calling for mutual respect between the two, has won the 2010 Templeton Prize." Yet again the prize has gone to a scientist who says nice things about religion.

"Ayala, 76, a naturalized American who moved from Spain to New York in 1961 for graduate study and soon became a leader in molecular evolution and genetics, has devoted more than 30 years to asserting that both science and faith are damaged when either invades the proper domain of the other.
Toyota's sticky accelerators could be caused by a concerted attack by evil cosmic rays. Toyota has kept quiet about these malicious forces but this puff piece may have unmasked a sinister force that could be causing untold havoc throughout the planet.

Cosmic rays are high energy protons that have been flung into space by a supernova. Upon hitting Earth they seem to focus their attention on Toyotas. But not, apparently, in random acts of sabotage but rather they seem to have a foot fixation and enjoy playing with their gas pedals.