Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Earth Dean

October 13, 2017

A brief note on a personnel change at Stanford, announced in the Stanford Report this morning:

(#1) The new Earth Dean, with lilies-of-the-valley (and a purple calla lily)

Geologist Stephan Graham has been named dean of the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, Provost Persis Drell has announced.

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The geological vocabulary bluff

April 26, 2017

A recent xkcd, 1829: Geochronology:

Not just the names of dog breeds. Dalmatian and Pomeranian are also place-name adjectives, and geological features are very often named after places.

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A political parable

March 12, 2017

From the NYT Book Review on 3/5/17, (in print) “Stalin Goes Atomic: The Soviet leader’s terror tactics extended even to the men driving his technology program”, (on-line) “Stalin Gets Results: The Soviet Push for Tech Dominance”, by Simon Sebag Montefiore, a review of Stalin and the Scientists: A History of Triumph and Tragedy 1905-1953 by Simon Ings.

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Morning eye in the sky

August 18, 2016

Today’s morning name: Jodrell Bank. (I really have no idea why these things pop up in my morning mind.)

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Surprising authors and the Conan Doyle effect

August 12, 2016

“You’ll Never Guess Who Wrote That: 78 Surprising Authors of Psychological Publications” by Scott O. Lilienfeld (Emory University) & Steven Jay Lynn (Binghamton University): Perspectives on Psychological Science Vol. 11, No. 4, pp. 419-41 (July 2016). The abstract:

One can find psychological authors in the most unexpected places. We present a capsule summary of scholarly publications of psychological interest authored or coauthored by 78 surprising individuals, most of whom are celebrities or relatives of celebrities, historical figures, or people who have otherwise achieved visibility in academic circles, politics, religion, art, and diverse realms of popular culture. Still other publications are authored by individuals who are far better known for their contributions to popular than to academic psychology. The publications, stretching across more than two centuries, encompass a wide swath of domains of psychological inquiry and highlight the intersection of psychology with fields that fall outside its traditional borders, including public health, economics, law, neurosurgery, and even magic. Many of these scholarly contributions have enriched psychology and its allied disciplines, such as psychiatry, in largely unappreciated ways, and they illustrate the penetration of psychological knowledge into multiple scientific disciplines and everyday life. At the same time, our author list demonstrates that remarkable intellectual accomplishments in one scientific domain, such as physics, do not necessarily translate into success in psychology and underscores the distinction between intelligence, on the one hand, and critical thinking and wisdom, on the other

A majot point of the study is that both popular writers and successful scientists in other fields are inclined to seriously underestimate the challenges of doing research in a number of subfields of linguistics — I mean, how hard could it be? — notably psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, historical linguistics, phonetics, semantics, and syntactic variation — all of which can fairly be said to be hard  that is to say, difficult, science — a point made clearly in the full article.

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Our playful entomologists

July 25, 2016

In the August 2016 Funny Times, a wonderful piece “The Name Game” by M.K. Wolfe, about binomial nomenclature for living things, but with special reference to the taxonomic names of insects (there are, after all, so very many of them). A copy of the piece (which you should embiggen for easier reading):

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An entertaining tour of playful, even silly, names that have been adopted. As far as I can tell, these are all entirely accurate, even the insects  Agra vation, Lalsapa lusa, Pison eu, and Vera peculya.

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Name play in the comics

July 30, 2015

Two cartoons this morning with plays on proper names: a Mother Goose and Grimm playing on Simon & Garfunkel, a Bizarro playing on the Big Bang theory and possibly also The Big Bang Theory:

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(#2)

(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in #2 — Don Piraro says there are 2 of them — see this Page.)

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The Counts Perovski

June 3, 2015

In the May 30th Economist, in a “Technology Quarterly” section, an article on work on transparent solar cells, including proposals to use

a family of crystalline materials called perovskites, which could allow semi-transparent solar cells to be made relatively cheaply in large rolls.

Ah, the minerals called perovskites, which reminded me of the garden plant called perovskia, which I grew in my Ohio garden. Turns out there are two different (and apparent unrelated) Russian counts named Perovski here, who lived and flourished at almost the exactly same time.

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The LHC

June 1, 2015

Yesterday’s Scenes From a Multiverse:

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Not the Large Hadron Collider, but the Large Horse Collider, which has found the equitron.

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Morning: Steve Burton Richter

May 15, 2015

This morning’s name was Burton Richter, the Stanford physicist. That led me to a photo of Richter with a quote from him — and Google then obligingly turned up a photo of soap opera hunk Steve Burton with a quote from him.

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