Carl Sagan was born 80 years ago today. Although we’re still mourning his passing, he left a legacy of curiosity and optimism worthy of celebration.
Ten summers ago, Francis Crick, the famed molecular biologist and neuroscientist who won a Nobel Prize for co-discovering DNA, died after a years-long battle with colon cancer. One of his closest friends and collaborators, Kristof Koch, remembers Crick’s demise — and especially his unflappability in the face of death — in this funny and moving 16-minute presentation, recorded before an appreciative audience at the World Science Festival.
We feature it here because, unlike Koch, who remained a practicing Catholic (more on that later), Crick didn’t believe in an afterlife. In fact, he was often profoundly irritated by religion, especially Christianity:
“I do not respect Christian beliefs. I think they are ridiculous. If we could get rid of them we could more easily get down to the serious problem of trying to find out what the world is all about.”
Ohio’s House Bill 597 would amend existing education law to include this bit about science:
The standards in science shall be based in core existing disciplines of biology, chemistry, and physics; incorporate grade-level mathematics and be referenced to the mathematics standards; focus on academic and scientific knowledge rather than scientific processes; and encourage students to analyze, critique, and review, in an objective manner, the scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the standards.
That’s all code for “teach kids that evolution is questioned by credible scientists”… which it’s not.
This is just neat. Anyone who’s taken a physics class knows that a bowling ball and a feather are supposed to fall at the same speed due to the effects of gravity, but air resistance prevents that from happening in real life.
In a neat video from BBC Two, Physicist Brian Cox went to NASA’s Space Power Facility in Ohio and they conducted the same experiment in a vacuum chamber (where air resistance is no longer a factor).
You know how the experiment will end, but it’s still really cool to see it in action: