(A dialog between two extraterrestrials entering a new, unexplored solar system. Translated from their native Hexa-Dimensional Hru-ru)
“Captain, we examined the gas planet with the fantastic rings.”
“Yes. No biomarkers, even though it seems perfect for life: mostly hydrogen and helium, with traces of methane, ammonia and water. Temperature is minus 279 Fahrenheit, windspeeds 1,100 miles an hour.”
“Sounds like heaven. Damn! We’re were so close.”
Let’s face it. Spend months on a desolate island in the Pacific looking at the beaks of Galapagos finches and before long, you might begin to realize something is going on there. Naturalist Charles Darwin did and it led to the theory of natural selection. Those individuals with heritable traits better suited to the environment will survive.
That’s not the way my father saw things in the natural world. He had his own rules that made you worthy of passing on your genes. Continue reading
Since I’m a firm believer in science and humor, I thought I would take a different tack to all the eulogies being made across the Internet since the passing of the great physicist last Wednesday. Instead, I offer you a wonderful interview that TV funnyman John Oliver had with Steven Hawking on Last Week Tonight in 2014. Continue reading
We finished off the dinosaurs with a whopping asteroid to make way for you mammals. We tinkered with your genes and got you to come down from the trees. We taught early humans how to raise crops and domesticate animals. Gave democracy to the ancient Greeks. And pulled your sorry asses back from the brink of nuclear war on multiple occasions. You owe us extraterrestrials big time.
And how do you Judases repay us?
A few years ago, I made a trip to the Mount Wilson observatory high above Pasadena, California. It’s where some of the greatest discoveries of 20th century astronomy took place.
It’s also where we humans got taken down a peg or two from our lofty, self-awarded importance in the cosmos. Continue reading
For most people, the word vacation conjures up visions of tanned carcasses parked on comfy lounge chairs in the Caribbean, sipping tropical drinks bristling with paper umbrellas and colorful straws.
I don’t buy into that illusion. Continue reading
Richard Feynman, one of the greatest physicists of the 20th century, could look at a simple tree and see much more than some roots, a trunk, branches and leaves. He understood and marveled at where they came from. The answer isn’t what you think.
Feynman said that trees come mostly out of the air.
Before you sputter in laughter and point in ridicule, you need to know that he’s correct.
We’ve been sending radio and television signals into space for decades without giving it much thought.
Maybe we should. Continue reading
My mother never understood the wave-particle duality of electromagnetic phenomena. She had no interest in the fact that objects traveling near the speed of light shortened in their direction of motion. And she never grasped how an airplane managed to stay up in the air at all, even though her husband flew planes for a living. Continue reading
Why was actress Jodi Foster filmed at a different angle than Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs? Where is the camera usually placed when two people are talking in a Joel and Ethan Coen film? And how do you make it interesting to watch when a character in a film travels to another city? Continue reading
They’re funny, weird, brilliant and sadly, mainly forgotten. Continue reading
We can have our cake and eat it too when it comes to climate change Continue reading
Life, the universe and everything answered in these terrific videos.
Located in the the first two stories of an old bank space in downtown Los Angeles, The Last Bookstore isn’t just a place to pick up a classic or the latest best seller. Continue reading