Category Archives: Science

The Most Interesting Thing in the World

4th May 2017

I came across a good guiding question recently in Career Advice for Undergrads. It’s a succinct way to put something I think about a lot:

“First, what is the most interesting thing going on in the world right now? Second, how can I put myself at the center of that?”

Isn’t that good? I so want to know what fascinates you right now. I’ll go first.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how our workforce is being changed by robots. I wonder how can we best evolve as a world community when robots can do most of our heavy lifting.

This is already happening, obviously. Robots have taken over lots of the old assembly jobs, even lots of the new customer service work that used to be done by phone banks.

So how can we be sure everyone has meaningful work so all of us are fed, have clean water, have access to education, and feel included in society? We need to re-train our workforce so we use the things about us that are uniquely human. It seems like we can create engaging work for people, work that could bring us up a step or two on Maslow’s Hierarchy and raise our global well being, but it’s such a huge undertaking.

I also think about the dark side of this, specifically whether we’ve been too radical about using drones and other tech to sanitize war, thereby making peace a less palatable option. Blurft.

OK, your turn. What’s the most interesting thing in the world right now? It doesn’t have to be a big deal to anyone else, maybe just an artist who’s blowing your mind, or a field you want to know more about. I’m more curious about the quirky individuality of it. I am also game to talk more about robots. Your call.

Leonard Nimoy, 1931-2015

27th February 2015

Leonard Nimoy died today, and I’m sad about it.

My dad was a Trekkie, so Star Trek and the Spock character have brought me a lot of comfort over the years, and fostered my interest in space and technology.

Here’s Nimoy and his son in Vulcan makeup. My sympathies to his family, and appreciation for his work.

The Stars Do Sing

9th September 2014

The poem Silence of the Stars by David Wagoner mentions that natives in the Kalahari desert can hear the stars sing. I wondered whether there was any science behind it, and came across this:

Scientists are using stellar seismology (or asteroseismology) to study the structure of pulsating stars. Star “earthquakes” do make sounds, but we can’t hear them because there’s no air to carry them. So scientists recreated the sound, which this article compares to wind blowing over a microphone.

Tonal variations help scientists understand the surface gravity and age of a given star. Some sound like radio static, others like they’re purring. Lovely.