Light Pollution

(November 23, 2023) "The thought of light traveling billions of years from distant galaxies only to be washed out in the last billionth of a second by the glow of the nearest strip...

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Entropy and Order

(November 9, 2023) "You can find many different diagnoses in death certificates, but they're just details. What really kills us is entropy increase." — Sabine Hossenfelder, Existential Physics Along with the Big Bang,...

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Rocket Science

(October 26, 2023) If you've ever watched the launch of a rocket, perhaps a Space Shuttle or one of SpaceX's Falcon 9s, you'll have heard the phrase "Max Q." About a minute after...

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Humboldt Bay Timeline

(October 12, 2023) Humboldt Bay (Wigi, to the Wiyot people) is actually a lagoon, the largest protected large body of water between San Francisco and Puget Sound. It's about 14 miles long and...

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Darwin's Bulldog

(September 28, 2023) "I was the most popular man in Oxford for full four & twenty hours." — T.H. Huxley, following his debate with Bishop Wilberforce At 25, Thomas Henry Huxley returned from...

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The Einstein Problem

(September 14, 2023) "It's a wild ride. It's completely unlikely and should not be taken as a model for how scientific discovery ever happens. It's completely ridiculous." — Craig Kaplan, co-author of the...

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To Run is Human

(August 31, 2023) "In the ancient Olympics, nobody competed with shoes, you would run barefoot." — Daniel Lieberman, evolutionary biologist Forget the invention of sex, fire, toolmaking, language, agriculture. The real turning point in the...

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Vulcan: Missing in Action

(August 17, 2023) Vulcan was the Roman god of fire; he was also ugly. The good news is that he somehow got to marry the goddess Venus, who was something of a catch....

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Summer Puzzles

(August 3, 2023) Every year at this time, I check what I've dumped into my "puzzles" folder over the past 12 months. Hope you enjoy them as much as you enjoy the one...

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Answers to Summer Puzzles

(August 3, 2023) Surviving the Toss: Either the two tosses come up the same (two heads or two tails) or different (one head, one tail). So one of them, say Alice, always says...

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Aliens vs. Alien Life

(July 20, 2023) Aliens: Intelligent creatures from a distant star who have traveled to Earth. Alien Life: A necessary precursor to those aliens, simple self-replicating molecules, such as cyanobacteria (blue-green algae). Earth is...

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Drones in Rwanda

(July 6, 2023) "You now see much bigger and wealthier countries like the U.S. using Rwanda as a role model." A surprising statement given that Rwanda, a landlocked country in the heart of...

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Humboldt's Lagoons

(June 22, 2023) Of the four lagoons claimed by Humboldt Lagoons State Park, only two would pass muster with any self-respecting dictionary. A lagoon is usually defined as a shallow body of brackish...

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Multi-messenger Astronomy and Gold Rings

(June 8, 2023) Astronomers glean information about distant objects from four types of energetic signals: electromagnetic radiation (such as visible light, radio waves and gamma waves); gravitational waves (subtle "ripples' in spacetime, first...

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Lava Beds, Lava Tubes, Modoc War

(May 25, 2023) A geological hotspot deep underground in the northeast corner of California has been sending molten rock to the surface for over half a million years. It's a reminder that we...

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