Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of Clostridium tetani endospores and vegetative cells, Gram-positive, anaerobic, endospore-forming, rod prokaryote.

Children Are Not Property


At the start of WC’s legal career women and children were still property of men in many states. Women have made great progress in erasing that historic detritus. Kids, not so much. And no where is it more evident than in the childhood vaccine debates. If a parent mistreats his or her children, the state…

William Crawford Gorgas, Chief Sanitary Officer to the Isthmian Commission

Anti-Vaxxers: Science Works


The anti-vaxxers, parents who refuse to vaccinate their children, whether for religious principles, the anti-science belief that vaccinations cause autism or sheer orneriness, create terrible risks that childhood diseases will resurge, and that neonates and babies, too young to be vaccinated, will catch child-killing diseases. You can watch it happening in eastern Washington right now,…

Diffuse Galaxy NGC 1052-DF2 Photo credit: NASA

When No Evidence Is Good Evidence


The puzzle of dark matter is one of the great conundrums of astrophysics. Part of the puzzle is that it cannot be seen – “dark” in astronomy means invisible. So far, it cannot be detected. It can only be inferred. When you see concentric ripples in a quiet pond, you infer someone threw a rock…

Influenza victims crowd into an emergency hospital near Fort Riley, Kansas in this 1918 file photo (AP Photo/National Museum of Health)

Another Unhappy Centennial


The centennial of the end of World War I was observed with all due ceremony, even if President Trump embarrassed himself and the United States by his churlish behavior. World War I killed perhaps 16 million people, counting both soldiers and civilians. A nearly unimaginable number. But it wasn’t even the worst disaster of 1918.…

Graphene (via Wikipedia)

Graphene: The Next Big Thing?


In 1961, WC’s sixth grade teacher, the late Jerry Norum, told his students that “LASERs” were going to be the “next big thing.” He was right, of course; lasers are ubiquitous now, scanning groceries, transmitting data, playing music, performing surgery and serving hundreds of other tasks. They were, indeed, the “next big thing.”1 Is graphene…

Turbulent flow from a candle

Some Turbulence Ahead


Richard Feynman in 1970 described turbulence as the most important unsolved problem of classical physics. Sir Horace Lamb (in a speech to the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1932) said that “when I die and go to heaven there are two matters on which I hope for enlightenment. One is quantum electrodynamics, and the…