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skullsinthestars

Old School Dungeons & Dragons: Part 13

Here’s my latest wrap-up of twitter-posted old school Dungeons & Dragons threads! Going to post these more frequently, with fewer entries, because my last few posts were over 4000 words each!  So without further ado…

The Dragonlance Game (1988), by Michael S. Dobson, Scott Haring and Warren Spector.  Here’s a boardgame that was a huuuuge deal when it came out, but I was somehow unaware of until I saw a used copy come by recently! It probably wasn’t...

Book signing at Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville on March 18th!

I am happy to announce that my next book signing for Falling Felines and Fundamental Physics will take place on March 18th at 6 pm at Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville!

Please consider coming out to hear me read from the book, show some short videos of cats falling, and personally demonstrate some of the techniques that cats use to land on their feet!

If you don’t have a copy of the book yet and can’t wait, the book can also be ordered directly from Malaprop’s...

Visualizing the geometric phase of light!

Another post inspired by my book on Falling Felines and Fundamental Physics! I talk about geometric phases in the book in the context of falling cats, but here I focus on the polarization of light.

I regularly argue that most physics isn’t as scary and complicated as most people think. Once you get past the mathematics, which is analogous to a foreign language for the non-fluent, many of the concepts and ideas are intuitive, and even logical. This is, in fact, the motivation...

Fake Book Titles Extravaganza #3!

Time for another round of Fake Book Titles that I’ve done, compiled from twitter!  You can see compilation 1 and compilation 2 at the links. These have proven to be a welcome distraction in stressful times. And, wow, I’ve done a lot since part 2!

As always with these, content warning for language, innuendo, and politics!

Original title: The Caves of Mars.

Original title: En El Centro de La Terra (Spanish version of At the Earth’s Core.) I wasn’t sure...

A few more Falling Felines bits of news!

If you’re still not tired of Falling Felines and Fundamental Physics news, yesterday was a good day for new posts, which I thought I’d compile here, along with some earlier stuff I forgot to share!

The Curiosity Daily Podcast interviewed me late last year, and that interview went up yesterday! You can listen to the podcast here.

I wrote a blog post for BBC Science Focus giving an introduction to the science and history of falling felines, a bit of a “Cliff Notes”...

Ruby Payne-Scott and the mystery of sunspots

This post is in belated honor of International Women’s Day 2020, March 8th, and highlights an important woman physicist who I was unaware of until recently!

I think almost everybody is familiar with the phenomenon of sunspots: relatively dark patches on the surface of the sun that come and go somewhat unpredictably and can range in size from diameters of tens of miles to diameters of 100,000 miles.

Sunspots visible during solar eclipse of October 23, 2014. By user Tomruen...

The Influence, by Ramsey Campbell

I’ve been trying to get together enough focus to start reading fiction regularly again, and there was no better way to spark that interest and begin 2020 than by reading one of my favorite authors of all time, Ramsey Campbell.  At the end of 2019, Flame Tree Press released a new edition of one of Campbell’s classic novels from 1988, The Influence.

If you’re unfamiliar with Campbell’s work, he is a master of establishing an atmosphere of creeping dread....

Old School Dungeons & Dragons: Part 12

Time again for another compilation of old School Dungeons & Dragons posts from twitter! I am still not tired of exploring the history and mechanics of classic RPGs and the adventures written for them.

Bughunters (1993), by Lester Smith. We begin with a look at a non-D&D roleplaying game produced by TSR in the early 90s, whose core conceit is pretty much given away in the title!

Bughunters was one of numerous worlds designed for use with the Amazing Engine gaming system,...

About a cat flip video!

Okay, even though my book is now out in the world and I spent years working on it, I still manage to come across new things that surprise me about the problem of the falling cat!  A good example of this came across my twitter feed the other day: a video of a cat doing some pretty incredible acrobatics.  I include a gif of the relevant action, which includes a slower-motion version of the flip, below.

The cat, and the people, are startled by the sound of a passing car. The cat almost instantly...

Falling Felines at BBC Science Focus!

In case you’re not tired yet of hearing about my book on Falling Felines and Fundamental Physics, I wrote a post for BBC Science Focus Magazine about the falling cat phenomenon, which you can read here.  A sample of the article:

With the recognition of conservation of energy, physicists soon decided that a cat simply cannot flip over on its own in freefall once it begins falling. The consensus view was that a cat, at the moment it begins to fall, must push off of its perch to...