Protocol for chicken soup

Submitted by Nicholas C. Darnton (inactive) on Wednesday, 1/27/2010, at 4:35 PM
chicken soup

There are so many competing recipes for chicken soup, how do you know which is the best?  Why, the recipe that has passed the scientific gold standard for rigor, clarity and reproducibility: peer review!  Follow the link to the only chicken soup recipe published in a peer-reviewed journal.  Everything else is amateur. 

To be fair, there are other peer-reviewed references to the medical potency of chicken soup, but they lack sufficiently specific protocols for soup. 

Physics in the media

Submitted by Nicholas C. Darnton (inactive) on Thursday, 7/9/2009, at 6:35 PM

Need some trendy liberal arts college references to popular culture?  So far we've got comic books, TV, movies, computer games, and pop history.

  • The Physics of Superheroes.
  • The Physics of Star Trek.
  • Physics in the computer games.
    All video games have to have reasonably accurate simulations of physics to make the player's interactions with the world seem believable.  Most people concentrate on the storyline or strategy, but there's a lot of underlying physics modeling of light propagation (and surface textures) as well as dynamics.  The actual underlying physics is not far beyond the level of Physics 16/17; the challenge is to find approximations that allow a single CPU to perform the necessary simulations in real time as the game is played.
  • Bad physics
    • in movies.  Critique of common physics mistakes in movies with individual movie ratings.
    • throughout history.  A recent book looks at the history of bad science (from naïve to corrupt).  Reviewed here.

Overhyped science

Submitted by Nicholas C. Darnton (inactive) on Tuesday, 1/6/2009, at 9:57 AM

The Economist waxes philosophical with an article that asserts that ground-breaking – and wrong – science is more likely to get published in the higher-profile journals (read Science and Nature) than solid but accurate science.  While there is a kernel of truth to this (I've seen some ludicrously overhyped articles in Nature), I'm suspicious because "ground-breaking" means "new", and The Economist reflexively hates all things new.  The Economist is so conservative that it brings life to the adage

a true conservative is someone who hates all change – even change for the better. 

It doesn't surprise me at all that The Economist is attracted to an argument (especially one based on the law of supply and demand) that casts suspicion on newness.

Science as Art

Submitted by Nicholas C. Darnton (inactive) on Tuesday, 1/6/2009, at 9:52 AM
Bubble chamber

I've always thought that scientific instruments are beautiful; apparently I'm not alone.  New Scientist has a gallery (and accompanying article) of parts of defunct  particle physics experiments recyled as objects d'art.  I'm not sure I'd want these in my living room, but they're pretty good as outdoor sculpture.