Update on the Universe; or, Where we “canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth”

Box seat holders at the Toads know that periodically we like to drop in on the physicists to see how the universe is progressing. Though it may be some 14 billion years old, fans will be happy to know that the universe is still in its early innings. Time for a hot dog and aContinue reading “Update on the Universe; or, Where we “canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth””

The Elite and the Effete: From Access to Egress

When did literature become an elitist game? When we started writing? Literature both reflects and influences culture, society, and the individual, but there are many things that reflect our values (what we want; not to be confused with what’s good for us) and influence our thought and action (the automobile; lawns; college), but not everythingContinue reading “The Elite and the Effete: From Access to Egress”

Now is the Science of our Discontent: E. O. Wilson and the Sacrifice of Science

Why do humans sacrifice for one another, sometimes even giving their lives so that others may go on living? We are an exceptionally selfish species, if measured by our propensity to hoard, to covet power and control, to manipulate and coerce. Scientists appear to be part of the species. Nature published last August a new paper byContinue reading “Now is the Science of our Discontent: E. O. Wilson and the Sacrifice of Science”

Sea Monsters in A. C. Grayling’s Secular Bible; or, Humanity’s Greatest Endeavor

The receding shorelines of the Sea of Faith betrayed not a spiritual drought but a thirst for knowledge when Matthew Arnold stood on the cliffs of Dover and declared his desperate love for his girl amid humanity’s confusing mission, for the beautiful sea, the moon coming to pieces on its surface, the calm English eveningContinue reading “Sea Monsters in A. C. Grayling’s Secular Bible; or, Humanity’s Greatest Endeavor”

A Different Brain: Reinventing Neuroscience from the Bottom Down

We saw Robert B. Laughlin lecture in Portland in 2005. It was Eric’s idea. He was taking a high school physics class, and there was a free ticket and extra credit in the wings, so we tagged along, always interested in what the physicists are up to. The hall was packed. On the stage wasContinue reading “A Different Brain: Reinventing Neuroscience from the Bottom Down”

Theory of nothing, something, and everything in between

Then we saw Wallace-Wells’s “Surfing the Universe,” in the July 21 issue, and we quickly skipped to this Annals of Science piece; for since seeing the Nobel Prize winning physicist Robert B. Laughlin lecture locally, our old curiosity to know if the physicists will ever solve their “Theory of Everything” has been expanding.  There’s apparently enough string theory going around that if theContinue reading “Theory of nothing, something, and everything in between”