If both Special and General Relativity didn’t work precisely as Einstein said it did, GPS would be far less accurate than it actually is. Like, way off, meaning those auto-drive cars wouldn’t even get to the right road. Or any road. And we’d all be lost. Let me explain. GPS works by very precise distance … More How GPS finds you and lets Google send you adverts
What defines smart? One of my memories from intermediate school, years ago, was the time my class sat a science test. One of the other kids had made it his life’s mission to jeer at me at every opportunity – mindless bully-stuff like ‘you’re an idiot’ by way of greeting – and happened to get … More What defines intelligence?
I love science. Check out this photo of NASA astronaut Alan Bean descending the ladder of lunar module Intrepid during the Apollo 12 mission in 1969 and about to set foot on the Oceanus Procellarum. Know what’s so awesome about it? Other than the fact that – hey – these guys are on the moon, … More Why science is so awesome
There’s an apocryphal story about the time an eminent scientist was asked to write 500 words for a leading magazine on whether alien life might exist. The resulting article consisted of the words ‘nobody knows’, repeated 250 times. That point’s still true today. There are plenty of clues that point towards the idea that life … More Are there aliens? Nobody knows…
It seems to me that by our everyday standards, hyper-extreme physics of the Einstein variety is magic – abstract, nonsensical and absurd. To me it’s like dada art. And that also isn’t surprising, conceptually. Setting aside the fact that both dada and Einstein came from Switzerland, the turn of the twentieth century brought the great … More Extreme physics as dada art – really!
Arthur C. Clarke’s A Fall of Moondust (1962) impressed me for lot of reasons when I first read it. The book still does – not least because, seven years before the first Moon landings, he predicted (a) that the only life found on the Moon would be bacteria retrieved from human-built probes, and (b) the … More The writers who predicted the future
It’s funny how things change. These days allergies are well understood as a genuine medical matter, they can affect anybody, and they can also be fatal if we’re not vigilant. What’s more, allergies seem to be getting more prevalent in western society. That’s totally turned around from when I was a kid. Back then, allergies … More Why are allergies becoming an epidemic?