• I enjoyed the first episode of The Flash, despite its straining my willingness to suspend disbelief. I don’t mean the whole premise of super powers gained from a lightning strike during a mad scientist’s experiment — that’s a respectable literary convention. But I couldn’t swallow the very last scene, which included a glimpse of a newspaper headline from the future.
Do the creators of this show really expect audiences to believe that daily newspapers will still be printed in 2024? I’m fine with our hero stopping a tornado by running in the opposite direction, but the idea of another generation of print media just seems preposterous.
Speaking of The Flash and real science, here’s a fun piece on how redshifting would make his red costume appear to change color as he ran toward you (via). Redshifting was discovered by the astronomer Vesto Slipher, whose name I mention because Vesto Slipher.
• Gyaaaagh. (TW for arachnophobes and/or arachno-perfectly-reasonable-fear-ists.)
So they opened it up and they said, “What’s it made out of?”
I said, “gold.”
And they’re like, “Uhhhh. Who gave this to you?”
“The King of Sweden.”
“Why did he give this to you?”
“Because I helped discover the expansion rate of the universe was accelerating.”
• James McGrath addresses 1 Corinthians 11:10 — the odd “because of the angels” passage we discussed here the other day. He suspects that part of what makes this bit of Paul’s letter tricky to follow is that we have just one piece of Paul’s ongoing argument with the Christians in Corinth. What reads like Paul going back and forth is probably his quoting bits of their argument and then responding to them.McGrath also takes issue with the NRSV translation I quoted, and most English translations, which have Paul concluding that “a woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head.” He argues a better translation would say that women ought to have authority over their heads — and thus, perhaps, over their own heads. What a difference a preposition can make.
• “I think someone opened one of the seven seals,” Phil Plait writes as a caption to the amazing photo accompanying his post on “Undulatus asperatus” clouds. Definitely more effective special effects than anything seen in Left Behind or any of the other Christian-brand movies about the End of the World.
• A recent poll finds that only two-thirds of Texans are loyal to America. Actually, polls like these — showing that a third of Texans favor secession — just offer another way of measuring something we already know: At least a third of any group is going to be of below-average intelligence. That’s just how averages work.
I’d like to see additional questions for cross-reference: How many of those who favor secession also believe that schoolchildren should be required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance? How many favor laws banning the burning of the American flag? How many favor extravagant means for “securing the border” of the country they wish to secede from?
Passion is not equivalent to bias. But figuring out how to communicate your “why” in a way that accounts for the larger social and political context of your work is incredibly important. …
The many why’s that underlie our work DO affect the questions we chose to ask and the puzzles we seek to unravel. Sharing your “why” in a way that resonates is key to making your science matter to others.
I think that’s true for science, but also for more than just science. If we want others to understand why something is important, it helps to show them why it’s important to us.