The radioactive corpse of Cassiopeia A

Getting Geeky: Astrophysics and Reality


Long-time readers know that WC can get kind of geeky from time to time. You have been warned. Science “knows” the universe was born out of a cosmic explosion 13.8 billion years ago. The universe rapidly inflated and then cooled. It’s still expanding but at an increasing rate and is mostly made up of unknown…

Bernd Heinrich at Boise State University, April 17, 2019

Some Time with Bernd Heinrich


Bernd Heinrich is a highly regarded biologist. The Birds of North America note on Common Ravens cites to him an amazing eighteen times. He’s now an emeritus professor at the University of Vermont and, at 80 years old, still runs ultra marathons. He’s also the author of some twenty popularizations, of wildly uneven quality. Here’s…

Measles, Day 4

WC Blames the Lawyers


There is a measles epidemic in New York City. So far, it has sickened some 329 people, with no end in sight. This isn’t to be confused with the ongoing epidemic of measles in eastern Washington State. New York City has declared a public health emergency. The City has issued an emergency health order. ll…

Notes on Ken Philip


WC has written of the sad death of his friend Kenelm Philip, physicist, fellow fan of good books, programmer and, above all, astonishing lepidopterist. WC has also written of Ken’s little “surprise” for WC: Ken named WC as his executor, to WC’s consternation. There have been subsequent events that merit a blot post. First, Ken’s…

This photograph from the May 29, 1919 total solar eclipse shows one of the stars used to confirm Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity. The red dot shows where the star would have been without the sun's interference. (Image: © Royal Observatory, Greenwich)

The Centennial of Eddington’s Proof


To those of a geeky persuasion – a group that certainly includes WC – there is an important anniversary approaching. May 29 will be the centennial of Eddington’s confirmation of general relativity. To understand why this is important we have to go back to 1915 or so. Albert Einstein had published his four scientific papers…

WC’s Heroes: Sir Issac Newton


I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.…