TV Review: Cosmos, Episode 10

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(I've decided to review the new Cosmos series hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson that's airing on Fox. If you missed it, you can stream full episodes online.)Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, Episode 10, "The Electric Boy"Up till now, Cosmos has used historical sequences as an adjunct to the science, just as a way of giving credit to the men and women who brought us the discoveries we now take for granted. But this time, the writers made the interesting and daring choice to make the entire episode … [Read more...]

TV Review: Cosmos, Episode 6

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(I've decided to review the new Cosmos series hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson that's airing on Fox. If you missed it, you can stream full episodes online.)Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, Episode 6, "Deeper, Deeper, Deeper Still"After the last two strong episodes, there was bound to be a clunker sooner or later, and I'm sorry to say this was it. Although it elaborated on a theme of the microscopic, atomic and sub-atomic worlds, it lacked a central narrative thread to tie together all the … [Read more...]

TV Review: Cosmos, Episode 5

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(I've decided to review the new Cosmos series hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson that's airing on Fox. If you missed it, you can stream full episodes online.)Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, Episode 5, "Hiding in the Light"With computer graphics getting cheaper and better every year, every new TV show and movie has to grapple with the question of how much is too much. That's no less true for a hard-science series like Cosmos than it is for a sci-fi drama. There's always the temptation to put more … [Read more...]

Movie Review: Particle Fever

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Last weekend I saw Particle Fever, a movie about the Large Hadron Collider and the scientists who built it in their quest to resolve one of the greatest outstanding mysteries in physics. It's easily among the most enthralling science documentaries I've ever seen, so if you get the chance, see it!The LHC was built to fill in the last missing piece of the Standard Model, the wildly successful theory that's guided particle physicists for decades, but that fails to explain why some subatomic … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Motor City

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Atlas Shrugged, part I, chapter IXUp till now, Atlas has positioned itself as a novel set in the real world. Whatever you may think about its author's opinions on politics, economics or human nature, however implausible you find some of her plot developments, it tells a story that could at least conceivably happen. But that's about to change in a big way, as our heroes are poised to discover the MacGuffin that's going to shape the rest of the book."Hank," she said suddenly, "could we … [Read more...]

Book Review: God and the Atom

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(Author's Note: The following review was solicited and is written in accordance with this site's policy for such reviews.)Summary: Written at an expert level; ordinary readers won't be able to keep up.Victor Stenger is a professor of physics and the author of many atheist books such as God: The Failed Hypothesis. His new book God and the Atom brings these domains together by arguing for the importance of atomic theory in disproving theism.Stenger's aim is to show that scientists … [Read more...]

People of Light and Darkness

The big news this week is that the Large Hadron Collider, the massive particle accelerator at the European physics lab CERN, has apparently discovered the elusive and long-sought subatomic particle called the Higgs boson, which explains why other particles have mass. The hunt for the Higgs has consumed decades of effort by physicists all over the world, and its discovery fills in one of the last missing pieces of the wildly successful theoretical framework called the Standard Model. Naturally, … [Read more...]

Discovering Electromagnetism

In Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World, there's a chapter titled "Maxwell and the Nerds" about James Clerk Maxwell, the Scottish physicist who discovered the four equations that govern electricity and magnetism. There's a passage in this chapter that I think perfectly sums up the moment that all scientists strive for. Many renowned ancient and medieval thinkers believed that light didn't travel at all, or that if it did, its speed was infinite. Aristotle, for example, argued that light "is not … [Read more...]

The Language of God: In the Beginning…

The Language of God, Chapter 3By B.J. MarshallAfter his prelude, Collins begins at the beginning: The Big Bang. He talks about what it is, asks what came before it, and argues that it cries out for a divine explanation. The Big Bang doesn't just cry out for an explanation - no, no, no - it cries out for a divine explanation. Nothing like checking your biases at the door when doing that science thing, right?We saw previously that he knows what a theory is, so this guy knows how to do … [Read more...]

Cathedrals

You may have heard that, after an exasperating series of setbacks and delays, the massive particle accelerator called the Large Hadron Collider is finally up and running. Even in preliminary tests, it's set records for the most powerful particle collisions ever recorded in a lab - and when it's reactivated later this year, it's expected to set new ones.Recently, I was struck by this quote from a National Geographic article on the LHC:So far, the CERN team has been very cautious as it … [Read more...]


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