The Argument for Federal Research: the Oleo Sponge


The late Senator William Proxmire (D, Wisconsin) used to belittle pure research, handing out “Golden Fleece Awards” to federal-subsidized researchers whose work he thought had no scientific value. Eventually, his name became a verb, meaning to unfairly obstruct scientific research for political gain, as in “the project has been proxmired”. Senator Proxmire was accused of recklessly attacking…

Would you buy a used car from this man?

WC Is Discouraged


Humankind seems to have invented reasoning, and it has mostly served us well. But reasoning evolved as a skill for plains apes, who included it as a tool for the bigger goal of cooperative living. It’s increasingly clear that reasoning as a tool can be subverted to that larger goal. Three books WC has read recently…

What WC Is Reading


The weather sucks, WC is struggling with a head cold and it’s the same old same old among the yard birds. So WC has been doing a lot of reading. Much of it has turned out to be pretty good. Here’s a quick overview of recent, decent stuff. Michael Lewis famously write Moneyball, which somehow got…

Nine Year Microwave Sky The detailed, all-sky picture of the infant universe created from nine years of WMAP data. The image reveals 13.77 billion year old temperature fluctuations (shown as color differences) that correspond to the seeds that grew to become the galaxies. The signal from our galaxy was subtracted using the multi-frequency data. This image shows a temperature range of ± 200 microKelvin. Credit: NASA / WMAP Science Team WMAP # 121238 Image Caption 9 year WMAP image of background cosmic radiation (2012)

Cosmology 101: The Big Bang Brouhaha


We’re only a few days into the Trump Administration and WC is already tired of the Liar-in-Chief’s antics. Wickersham’s Conscience will take a break from politics and presidential churlishness and revert to the magpie principle. At least until WC’s atrophied moral outrage recovers. For a sense of perspective, lets talk about cosmology instead. Let’s focus on…

CRSPR Critters


If you haven’t heard of CRISPR, you will, It’s a tool that, like the transistor in electronics, is utterly revolutionizing biology. Combined with gene drive, it has made alterations to genomes, including human genomes, within the means and skills of a bright high school biology student. Put on your horned-rim glasses and pocket protector; we’re going…