Natural Sciences

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! In honor of the holiday, here are links to a few classic horror fiction stories that were inspired by the science of their eras.

The Damned Thing, Ambrose Bierce (1893). A story inspired by the existence of invisible radiation! Investigators probe into the mysterious mutilation of a man.

The Horror Horn, E.F. Benson (1923).  Recognition that humans evolved from more primitive ancestors inspired this story of a terrible chase on a shunned mountain.

The Whisperer...

Math’s Beautiful Monsters - Issue 53: Monsters - Nautilus

Math’s Beautiful Monsters - Issue 53: Monsters - Nautilus:

Monsters in literature are often creatures that defy our understanding of natural laws and inexorably destroy everything they come into contact with. Well, it turns out that this description can also apply to concepts in math and science.  Over at Nautilus, Adam Kucharski describes how mathematician Karl Weierstrass invented a simple mathematical beast that tore down much of the established ideas of calculus:...

Deepest ocean trench home to race of giant amoebas

Deepest ocean trench home to race of giant amoebas:

(Jumping back into some horror facts after a long hiatus with some classic science horrors!)

Horror movies are filled with creatures that are deadly simply because they are much, much, much bigger than they should be.  Sometimes, that happens in real life to creatures we really don’t want to be very big, as researchers in 2011 discovered:

The team documented the deepest known existence of xenophyophores, single-celled...

The Endless Fall, by Jeffrey Thomas

Though I’ve been in a bit of a reading funk the past few months due to life, work and stress, I managed to find one thing that helped me break out of it: long airline flights. Between recent trips to Seattle and Los Angeles (which I should probably blog about), I ended up reading a lot of lovely books, including research for my upcoming cat physics book as well as some excellent fiction.  I tend to stock up my kindle with a lot of books by authors I’m unfamiliar with, and one...

Halloween Treats 2017

It is getting really challenging not to repeat myself with these annual samples of classic horror stories for Halloween, as I’ve been doing this for ten years! You can read the old editions here:   2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and my 2010 post on the true story of the “Lady of the Lake“. It is likely that not all of the links in those old posts work, but the lists are there.

Some Other Animal’s Meat, Emily Carroll (2016). ...

Ernest Fox Nichols’ darkly memorable lecture

Though there are many, many lectures given in the sciences, relatively few of them really stand out in a historical sense. One famous exception is Hans Christian Oersted’s 1820 lecture on electricity and magnetism, during which he discovered the relationship between electricity and magnetism.  This is, as far as I know, the only time that a major scientific discovery has been made for the first time in front of a lecture audience.

On the opposite end of the spectrum of “memorable”...

Terrifying ancient crocodile discovered in the Sahara was almost the size of a bus

Terrifying ancient crocodile discovered in the Sahara was almost the size of a bus:

Speaking of giant creatures, as we did in the last post, lots of ancient predators were HUGE.  And they would definitely be dangerous to humans, if they weren’t extinct. 

In 2016, for example, paleontologists uncovered an ancient crocodile in the Sahara that was scary big:

This prehistoric crocodile is believed to have measured more than 30 feet long and weighed three tons. The skull alone...

Never Bet the Devil and Other Warnings, by Orrin Grey

The first time I encountered Orrin Grey’s work, it wasn’t even his fiction! He wrote the introduction to the Valancourt edition of J.B. Priestley’s 1927 novel Benighted, and I was struck then with his knowledge and insight into classic horror.  Since then, I’ve been following his work with interest and enjoyment, and was delighted to support the Kickstarter for a reprint and expansion of his original short story collection, Never Bet the Devil...

The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories, Volume 2

Just in time to enjoy for Halloween, Valancourt Books has recently released their second volume of horror stories, in The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories, Volume 2!

The volume contains 14 stories of terror and the supernatural in VBHSv2, encompassing nearly 200 years of horror history.  It includes a number of stunningly rare and never reprinted tales, including two that have never been published anywhere else.

Once again, as I said for VBHSv1, I am impressed with the cleverness...

What is quantum entanglement? Part 6: Locality, reality, and John Bell

This is part 6 in a lengthy series of posts attempting to explain the idea of quantum entanglement to a non-physics audience.  Part 1 can be read here,  Part 2 can be read here, Part 3 here,  Part 4 here, and Part 5 here.

In the last part of this series of posts, we discussed the practical implementation of entanglement using photons, which is the most common (though not only) way to study and apply entanglement in modern experiments.  In this post, we return to a bit of the...

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