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.…

This view of asteroid Bennu ejecting particles from its surface on January 19 was created by combining two images taken by the NavCam 1 imager onboard NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft: a short exposure image (1.4 ms), which shows the asteroid clearly, and a long exposure image (5 sec), which shows the particles clearly. Other image processing techniques were also applied, such as cropping and adjusting the brightness and contrast of each layer. Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Lockheed Martin

Meet Bennu, Who Is a Little Strange


OSIRIS-REx, the very ambitious effort to obtain a sample from an asteroid in space, is a success to this point. The manmade satellite is in orbit around the small asteroid 101955 Bennu. It’s a triumph of celestial navigation and technology. There were serious critics of the OSIRIS-REx’s mission, who asked “What was the point, what…

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,…