No Celtic? Blame the Volcano

(March 6, 2019) Celtic is virtually absent in the English language, despite the fact that almost everyone in what is now England spoke a branch of Celtic before Germanic speakers invaded the country...

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Delusion is My (and Your) Middle Name

(February 21, 2019) Quick quiz: Would you rather receive $100 right now or $120 a month from now? Most people take the $100 right now, despite the extraordinary offer of 20 percent...

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James Dyson's Electric Car

(February 7, 2019) "Anyone who can convince people to part with $400 for a hair dryer knows a thing or two about marketing." — Steve Hanley, CleanTechnica James Dyson built 5,127 prototypes before...

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Cancer, Part 2: Turtles, Birds and Rabbits

(January 24, 2019) Last week, we looked at some of the many reasons why the diagnosis and treatment of cancer are so difficult and controversial. A common way of illustrating the problem is...

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Cancer, Part 1: The Unwinnable War

(January 17, 2019) Like the War on Drugs, the $500 million War on Cancer was doomed from the get-go. In the case of drugs, you're fighting human nature. With cancer, the opponent is...

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Looking for Aliens

(January 3, 2019) Seems we're hearing a lot about aliens these days. They're humans supposedly swarming over the border, snails invading our lakes, plants taking over the dunes. Even cancer cells, those utterly...

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Eight Tree Myths

(December 20, 2018) I recently — and rashly — accepted an invitation to co-teach a class on trees, bowing to the old saw about learning by teaching. Fortunately, my co-teachers kept me honest...

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Physics' Beautiful Crisis

(December 6, 2018) Beauty is truth, truth beauty,' — that is all/Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know." — John Keats, from "Ode on a Grecian Urn" What works for...

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The Bear Harbor Railroad, 1892-1905

Part 2

(November 22, 2018) Last week, we followed the saga of the Bear Harbor Railroad from the delivery in 1892 of a "Gypsy" locomotive — what would become Bear Harbor Lumber Company No. 1...

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The Bear Harbor Railroad, 1892-1905

Part 1

(November 15, 2018) From May to September on the third Saturday of each month, visitors to Fort Humboldt State Park enjoy free rides behind a couple of veteran steam logging locomotives, courtesy of...

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TMT: Astronomy's New Eye

(November 1, 2018) Say it quickly — "30-meter telescope" — and it doesn't sound like much. But this new $2 billion instrument under construction near the summit of Mauna Kea on Hawai'i's Big...

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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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Recent Comments

  • Re: Early Routes Out of Humboldt

    • I know this is *way* old, but I keep thinking about it, and what an…

    • on March 18, 2019
  • Re: The Weirdness of English

    • Ing From Middle English -ing, from Old English -ing, -ung (-ing, a suffix forming nouns…

    • on March 9, 2019
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