Connections Quiz

Connections Quiz

(October 18, 2018) Short attention span? Perfect, we understand each other. Each of these "connections" will take no more than 18 seconds to read. That's supposed to be the average duration of our...

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Fighting Entropy

Part 2 of 2

(September 27, 2018) In Part 1, I discussed how entropy can be thought of as a measure of disorder, where chaos and order correspond to high and low entropy, respectively. Let's see how...

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Fighting Entropy

Part 1 of 2

(September 20, 2018) Life's tough, then you die," proclaims that helpful bumper sticker. Then look at what happens: Entropy takes over. Actually, the entire course of our bodies' existence, from birth to death,...

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Excellent Simulations

(September 6, 2018) Suppose this whole mess is just a simulation? Wildfires, Trump, Mars rovers, vaping, dreams, sex, God, you, me, everything — all a digital creation of some far-in-the-future kid playing with...

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Early Routes Out of Humboldt

(August 23, 2018) If you drive or cycle the rolling mountain road from Bridgeville to Kneeland — it's a county right-of-way, despite all the "no trespassing" signs — you'll be following the first...

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Vlad, Vampires and Dracula

(August 9, 2018) Don't think it's easy being a vampire. Apart from the mundane sunlight/holy wafer/cross-in-your-face/spike-through-your-heart issues, you've got to deal with the fact that blood is toxic. A few teaspoons won't hurt...

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The Roots of Homeopathy

(July 26, 2018) Sometimes topics for this column fall, unbidden, into my lap. Such was the case during our recent trip to Romania, where we'd booked a room in the heart of old...

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TESS the Planet Hunter

Part 2 of 2

(July 12, 2018) Last time, we discussed how NASA's recently launched Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, will spend the next two years surveying nearly the entire sky to search for planets...

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TESS the Planet Hunter

(Part 1 of 2)

(June 28, 2018) Sitting in the cavernous nose of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, NASA's TESS was launched on April 18 from Cape Canaveral. By the time you read this, TESS —Transiting Exoplanet...

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Correlation ≠ Causation

(June 14, 2018) Mention just about any scientific finding involving a chain of causation — anthropocentric global warming, monarch butterflies/milkweed destruction, fluoridation/fewer cavities ("Colorado Brown Stain," May 31) — and you'll hear...

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Colorado Brown Stain and Fluoridation

(May 31, 2018) It reads like the sort of detective yarn beloved by BBC viewers, except that instead of the one-hour format, this story took nearly 50 years to unravel. Chapter one began...

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Pyramid Woo

(May 17, 2018) The New Age began, as far as I was concerned, in the spring of 1970. Fresh in the Americas, I was completely captivated by woo — the more some phenomenon...

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The Shape of Zoophilia

(May 3, 2018) The Shape of Water, an Oscar-winning romance between a latter-day Creature from the Black Lagoon and a mute cleaning lady, can be summed up in a word: bestiality. The stuff...

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Magnificent Frigate Birds

(April 19, 2018) Frigate birds are a surprising study in contrasts. On the one hand, I admire them gliding effortlessly high overhead, following the updraft above a Pacific beach in southern Mexico. On...

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April Quiz

Puzzles for brain training

(April 5, 2018) They say — someone says — eating blueberries, salmon and avocados is good for the brain. So is solving puzzles. Here's your annual IQ-increasing set of teasers. Nothing too...

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The E.T. Equation

(March 22, 2018) "... there must be extraterrestrial civilizations ... because the laws of nature that led to the development of life and intelligence on Earth must be the same as those prevailing...

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