Category Archives: Cool Stuff

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

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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

In Which I Admit Defeat in Being Beaten to Filming Death Valley’s Moving Rocks

First of all, my congratulations to Richard D. Norris, James M. Norris, Ralph D. Lorenz, Jib Ray, and Brian Jackson for their publication in PLOS ONE of Sliding Rocks on Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park: First Observation of Rocks in … Continue reading

Posted in Cool Stuff, Nature, Science | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

The Day I Met Dr. Edward Teller

Dr. Edward Teller, the “Father of the Hydrogen Bomb,” is often known for his uneasy relationship with fellow Manhattan Project member J. Robert Oppenheimer, the “Father of the Atomic Bomb.” Their rivalry was not limited to the specific type of … Continue reading

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

It’s Quantum Mechanics… Or Something

Scientists get things wrong very often. I, for one, am thankful they do. Being wrong is an opportunity to learn new and interesting things about the world. Or it might simply mean we need to do more work in order to see … Continue reading

Posted in Cool Stuff, Education, Energy, Science | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments