Virginia from Space

Big shout-out to astronaut Ricky Arnold, who snapped this amazing photograph of Virginia a few hours ago. Most of my family, and most of the people I grew up with, are contained within this single frame. Beautiful, heady stuff.     

Top Science Stories of 2017

Since I apparently get antsy when I’m between semesters and don’t have hundreds of papers to grade, I’ve decided to once again rank the ten biggest science stories of the year. You can revisit my previous year-end lists at the following hyperlinks: 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013. Annual disclaimer: I am not a scientist. I teach and Read More …

Latest from Low Earth Orbit

Since I’ve previously used this blog to write about my admiration for astronauts (links), I thought I’d provide an update on some of the people currently inhabiting the International Space Station. First and foremost, a big shout-out to Iowa-born Peggy Whitson, the current ISS commander who has spent more time in space than any other American, male Read More …

Our New Computer Overlords

The current President and his cabinet have said a lot of confounding things over these past 100 days or so, but one comment struck me as especially curious. During an interview last month, former hedge-fund manager and current Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin was asked about artificial intelligence and its potential impact on the Read More …

Fly Me to the Moon

You may have missed it given all the other headlines of late, but we have an early candidate for science story of the year. Two weeks ago, Elon Musk announced that his company, SpaceX, had been approached by two as-yet unnamed people who want to visit the Moon on one of his rockets and then return Read More …

Science in the White House

As the Presidency of Barack Hussein Obama draws to a close, I thought I’d remind everyone that he has been a tireless promoter of science for the past eight years. Among other things, he launched the BRAIN Initiative, the Precision Medicine Initiative, and he helped broker a global climate agreement in Paris. He privatized the space industry. He even Read More …

America the Beautiful

I don’t often shill for multi-billion dollar corporations, but the past few weeks have got me thinking about one of my all-time favorite commercials. It’s the now-famous ad for Coca-Cola that features “America the Beautiful” being sung in multiple languages. The commercial irked a surprising number of people when it first aired during the Super Bowl Read More …