Category Archives: physics

Freeman Dyson’s natural theology: The human brain can’t be explained by evolution, ergo we’re “a miracle of some sort”

Most of you have probably heard of Freeman Dyson (born 1923), a mathematician and physicist of considerable accomplishment, who worked for decades at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study.  He’s also a bit of a polymath, having published on biology and, unfortunately, on metaphysics. For, as he’s admitted, Dyson is a “nondenominational Christian”, something I didn’t know until […]

Do cats understand the laws of physics?

Betteridge’s law of headlines would suggest that the answer is “no”, but the authors of a new paper in Animal Cognition beg to disagree. This short report (reference and free pdf below) tests the idea that cats can identify a rattling sound in a box as denoting an object in the box, and then, when the […]

Physics explains it all

Reader Pliny the In Between has a new cartoon, “Time Dilation,” on his/her site Evolving Perspectives (click to enlarge): Making these cartoons is no easy job; in another new post, Pliny explains the work behind creating the characters and making the panels. It’s far more complicated and laborious than you’d imagine!

Krauss on Horgan

Lawrence Krauss, Michael Shermer, and Steve Pinker have written responses to John Horgan’s splenetic Scientific American blog post arguing that skeptics are criticizing the Wrong Things. Lay off Bigfoot, homeopathy, global warming, and GMOs, he says; we should be going after physics, medicine, and—war! (Horgan seems to have overlooked pervasive skepticism of physics and medicine.) One of […]

An unenlightening disquisition on consciousness

Several readers sent me Galen Strawson’s new piece in the New York Times‘s philosophy section, “The Stone.” In his op-ed, “Consciousness isn’t a mystery. It’s matter“, respected philosopher of mind Strawson makes three contentions. I find the most important two to be uncontroversial, while the third is puzzling. The basic premise is that consciousness is […]

Does the beauty and effectiveness of math in understanding the world prove anything?

One of the disadvantages of shopping for food early Sunday morning is that Krista Tippett’s “On Being” program is on National Public Radio at 7 a.m. And, of course, I have to listen, cursing to myself for an entire hour. Why do I do it, you ask? I could say that I need to keep […]

Krauss on gravitational waves

If you’re interested in the stunning announcement of gravitational waves yesterday, do read Lawrence Krauss’s piece about it in the New York Times, “Beauty in the darkness.” He’s the expert here, so I’ll just give an excerpt. I should add that this observation provides evidence not just for gravitational waves, but also for black holes: To see […]

Einstein right again: Gravitational waves discovered at last!

There were rumors afoot yesterday that this would be announced today. And my CNN news feed just directed me to their article, which I reproduce in its entirety; the headline calls gravitational waves “the holy grail of modern physics.” Gravitational waves are a reality, according to scientists from an institution that has been hoping to observe […]

Gravitational waves discovered?

If they’re real, this is a stupendous discovery. Read about them here and here, and here’s a tw**t by Lawrence Krauss

Magnets are magic

by Matthew Cobb [JAC: Here’s how a small perturbation in a magnetic field sets off a cool chain reaction. It’s the butterfly effect!] "Magnetic field disruption causing chain reaction." via — samim (@samim) January 9, 2016 Here’s the original video, which I can’t embed.