My Dad The Nerd

My dad the nerd

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

Great Podcasts: Studio 360

great podcasts trulylostinthecosmos

I chanced on this great website while looking for, as usual, all things scientific. Besides great podcasts (the one that led me here was about parallel universes…a subject near and dear to a sci-fi writer’s heart), studio 360 has articles, videos and blogs about current music, books, movies, and other pop culture happenings with a good dose of comedy thrown in (another subject near and dear to my heart as a comedy writer). It’s kind of like an alter-ego to another podcast favorite, Radiolab. Best of all: it has a separate page for science and technology, containing for example, videos of Darth Trump, artists at CERN, and what dark matter would look like if you could draw it.

Enjoy.

Hey Dude, Your Use of Bernoulli’s Equation and Euler’s Equation for Streamline Curvature Effect is Really Rad

truly lost in the cosmos kite hydrofoil board

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Human ingenuity will never cease to amaze me. And neither will the way that science makes its way into nearly every facet of our daily lives.

Especially when it comes to extreme sports. In fact, from wingsuit base jumping to ice climbing, these unbelievable sports wouldn’t exist without making use of scientific principles.

Take what I’ve been seeing more and more off the coast of California in the last year.

Kite surfing is nothing new. You combine a huge inflatable, curved kite and a short surfboard and you go sailing across the top of the water.

At some point, someone must have said to themselves: “This is really great, but I want to go faster. And I want to take advantage of really windy days, but not put up with the choppy surf that high winds create.

Someone, somewhere, must have seen—or ridden—on a hydrofoil boat and noticed that it provides a smooth ride even on choppy seas, it cruises much faster, and turns quicker.

Some smart person attached a hydrofoil to a surfboard and a new sport was born. It makes you do a double take, watching a person sailing three or four feet above the water.

Amazing.

So what’s next?

Once we humans make traveling into space an everyday thing, it wouldn’t be out of the question  to see someone whizzing by at a million miles an hour on solar wind sail.

And after that? It’s anyone’s guess. Black hole base jumping? Pulsar catapults?

(If you’re really interesting in the principle of using foils to lift a boat, here’s what MIT says about it: hydrofoils

Einstein Was a Loser

truly lost in the cosmos dave stukas einstein was a loserThose aren’t my words about the great theoretical physicist. They’re his.

Unable to find work after graduating from the Zürich Polytechnic with a teaching diploma, he wrote to his sister and said that it would have been better had he never been born.

Can you imagine?

The job he eventually got as a lowly clerk at the patent office in Bern gave him what he really needed besides a paycheck: time to think. He put his time there to good use, indulging in his thought experiments, and writing the three papers that changed how we understand the universe. Even after these papers were published, they weren’t universally accepted. It took time. Many years, in fact.

The key thing was, he never gave up.

For those of you still waiting tables or tending bar or working retail, hang in there. If you have talent, the only other thing you need is a belief in yourself. And a little patience.

Bury Me on Pluto

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Interesting fact as the New Horizons probe approaches Pluto, it carries a payload I never would have guessed: some of the ashes of the man who discovered it: Clyde W. Tombaugh. Well done, Clyde. Much better than having your ashes spread over actor George Clooney, as I am planning with mine.