Category Archives: Cool Stuff

James Oberg: Astronaut UFO Incidents

Sometimes when looking for a topic, I end up going on wild tangents, chasing one thought or another and satisfying my own curiosity. I try to keep my ear to the ground for interesting or unusual UFO reports that might be … Continue reading

Posted in Conspiracy Theories, Cool Stuff, Science, Space, TV & Media | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Captain Cook and the Impossible Cotton

Shortly before Captain James Cook was killed on the island of Hawaii in 1779, one of his botanists, David Nelson, made a single four-day excursion up Mauna Loa and collected 136 species of plants. From Reader’s Digest‘s 1986 book, Mysteries of the Ancient … Continue reading

Posted in Cool Stuff, History, Nature, Science | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gravitational Waves and the Value of Errors

Imagine a fat guy doing a cannonball into a calm swimming pool. We can predict that a minute later the surface of the pool will be mottled with waves: ridges and valleys, peaks and pits. The Standard Model of cosmology … Continue reading

Posted in Cool Stuff, Nature, Science, Space | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Skeptical and Belgian Hip-Hop of Stromae

George Hrab can be considered the skeptical maestro-in-chief. His songs are witty, musically interesting, and the texts have a very clear skeptical theme. He’s also very fond of explaining his first appearance at The Amazing Meeting (TAM) in Las Vegas, where … Continue reading

Posted in Cool Stuff, TV & Media | Tagged , | 3 Comments

In Defense of Electric Silence

For some time now, a few activists have proposed that a danger of electric cars is their silence to unsuspecting pedestrians. According to this claim, pedestrians are more likely to be struck by cars that they cannot hear coming. A … Continue reading

Posted in Cool Stuff, Technology | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Whales’ Pelvic Bones: Evolutionary Science at its Best

This summer I took my kids to the Royal Museum for Natural Sciences here in Brussels. Apart from the usual dinosaur exhibits and a very nice exposition on evolution, there was also a large room (evidently) for the display of … Continue reading

Posted in Cool Stuff, Nature, Science | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The Tragedy of History’s Smallest Underground War

Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave has been known since the late 1700s, and exploited for its saltpeter wealth through the War of 1812. Thereafter it became a tourist attraction, passing from owner to owner throughout the 1800s, each of whom had a … Continue reading

Posted in Cool Stuff, Events, History, Nature | 10 Comments

Is the Evidence for Inflation and Gravity Waves Just Dust?

One of the strengths of science and the scientific method is that it is self-correcting. As new evidence is found, old ideas are tested against that evidence. Should they fail, they are either modified or discarded and new ideas take … Continue reading

Posted in Cool Stuff, Science, Space | 1 Comment

How This Clinical Trial Went Terribly Wrong

As a lifelong asthma sufferer, I’ve always had alerts set up at ClinicalTrials.gov, a central clearinghouse for clinical trials. If a clinical trial for a new experimental drug came up in my area, I wanted to be notified so I … Continue reading

Posted in Cool Stuff, Health, Science | Tagged , , , , , | 28 Comments

How do you make an atomically sharp needle?

Back in the late 1980s, my friend Dan was a student at University of California, Santa Barbara and an employee of Digital Instruments, one of the very first companies to sell a practical commercial Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM), the Nanoscope … Continue reading

Posted in Cool Stuff, Science | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments