Lake Idaho and the Snake River Volcanic Province

Yet Another Giant, Ancient Lake


The Western Snake River Plain is a desert now. Sagebrush, bitterbrush and rabbitbrush growing on layers of ash and loess, which in turn lie on thousands of feet of basalt, congealed lava. It’s a desert, and a few minutes there in the summer will remove any doubts you might have that it is a desert.…

Image of the star KIC 8462852 (Boyajian’s Star) at infrared (left) and ultraviolet (right) wavelengths.

Tabby’s Star


“When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first.” — Attributed to Wener Heisenberg, 1901-1976 Tabby’s Star, technically a distant star in the constellation Cygnus, known officially as KIC 8462852, is the latest astrophysical puzzle to challenge…

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…