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Another Slice of APS April 2019, Knowing Theories Of Others.

A simple slice of life as an academic.  No chair was assigned for the session Z13 in which...

Replacing Theoretical Physicists With Computer Code? A Slice Of APS April 2019.

Theoretical physicist have no more than five good unique insights in a lifetime. Then spend years...

Presenting A Hypothesis Of Everything, And Finding Out A Giant Had A Similar Idea At The Same Time Is Great.

A hypothesis of everything, that is not what I first thought it would be, is what I will present...

The Black Hole Image Raised Us Up, Media Reactions Lowered Us Down

By oversimplifying the complex human story of how big science done by big collaborations like Event...

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Hontas FarmerRSS Feed of this column.

Currently I am an adjunct professor at the City Colleges of Chicago and the College of DuPage . My research focuses on astrophysics from massive star formation to astroparticle physics. Born and... Read More »

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Ben Shapiro and others often cite a UCLA study which claimed that 45% of transwomen try to commit suicide to “prove” that transgender people are mentally ill and that we should not reinforce their “delusion”.   A big problem with their line of reasoning is that  they generalize a single survey based on a self-selected convenience sample to a whole population.  One could dismiss that as some kind of pseudo intellectual argument based on feelings and facts don’t care about feelings. 

Stephen W Hawking actually wrote me a letter in response to one I sent him (actually I think it was an email) while in hindsight it was very likely to have been written by a functionary for him or the like it was still nice.  At about the same time I sent a message to someone at Fermilab and got a response which they posted to their website and kept there ever since.  Which I consider to be a distinct honor as it was either the first or one of the first such questions (and alone the lines of something people must think of from time to time if they know a little physics.) 
Brian Greene would say that those who doubt string theory just lack vision or  the capacity to understand it.  Balderdash!  String Theory is a beautiful system of mathematics which can be use to construct physical theories ...but it is not science.

Even if we ban guns today, in any realistic situation, there would still be tens of millions of guns in circulation.   This fact means that in order to give teachers a real fighting chance,we must be trained and armed.  As a teacher at the college level right now all I can legally do is be a human shield.  Professors and teachers are the true FIRST* responders in an active shooting situation at a school.  We are the only ones who are expected to go into a potentially dangerous situation completely unprotected other than with the armor of our title and the supposed power of our position. 
The recently released paper noting that dwarf galaxy's orbits do not obey the simplest models of dark matter is not news to any physicist who pays attention to cosmology.  In short, the simplest models of dark matter, the DM in CDM, may need to be tweaked but hopefully not by too much.  So the rest of the media and everyone else can relax.  That's not to say the work isn't very important.  

We all pay our electric and gas bills in winter with more urgency than in summer because cold can kill you.  Without both electricity and gas modern furnaces will not function.  So we pay and think that the cold will be at bay for a month.  Then my family gets this letter which I was only made aware of by my parents yesterday.   ComEd the local electric utility and a corporate subsidiary of Exelon  is going to shut off the power for about 240 minutes between the hours of 8AM and 4PM.  When asked if they will give any warning on the day of this shut off, say a phone call alerting people, I was told no. That outage window which comprises the entirety of the winter daylight hours in Chicagoland and right no