Natural Sciences

Fake Book Titles Extravaganza #4!

Time for another round of Fake Book Titles that I’ve done, compiled from twitter!  You can see compilation 1, compilation 2 and compilation 3 at the links. Been struggling a bit more with inspiration the past few months, but let’s see how I did…

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

Original title: The Eyes of Sarsis.

The classics never get old:

Original title: The Odyssey.

This one next will (hopefully) make no sense at...

Old School Dungeons & Dragons: Part 15

Time for another roundup of my twitter threads on old school Dungeons & Dragons products! Let’s jump right in:

The Complete Fighter’s Handbook (1989), by Aaron Allston. I haven’t yet touched any of the “handbook” supplements that were made for 2nd edition AD&D!

The Complete Fighter’s Handbook was the first in a long line of handbooks intended to expand the variety of options for characters, races and campaigns in 2nd edition...

‘Murder Hornets’ in the U.S.: The Rush to Stop the Asian Giant Hornet

‘Murder Hornets’ in the U.S.: The Rush to Stop the Asian Giant Hornet:

Yeah, I really couldn’t let this story pass by without some comment here!

Just when you thought that 2020 couldn’t get any more ridiculously bad, here come the invasive murder hornets!

This comment in the NYT article struck me:

For larger targets, the hornet’s potent venom and stinger — long enough to puncture a beekeeping suit — make for an excruciating combination that victims have likened...

A near-disaster at a federal nuclear weapons laboratory takes a hidden toll on America’s arsenal

A near-disaster at a federal nuclear weapons laboratory takes a hidden toll on America’s arsenal:

Nuclear power is an amazing and quite safe technology… at least until human beings are the ones working on it. Via my twitter friend nuclearkatie, I learned of this rather terrifying story involving improperly handled plutonium at a federal nuclear weapons laboratory… in 2011. In short: don’t bring all of your plutonium samples together for a photo op.

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The first news report of the laser (1960)

The first news report of the laser (1960):

Lasers as death rays? Somehow, whenever a new scientific discovery is made, there are some folks who anticipate the worst from it. (Often with justification.)  Over on my main blog, I talk about the first news report of the discovery of the laser in 1960, which is hilariously over the top with somewhat tongue-in-cheek predictions of impending doom.  Fortunately, things have not turned out quite so bad, and the laser has been overall...

Jasmine: Journey Into Power coloring book

I haven’t been blogging much lately, because *gestures hands at everything* but I wanted to give a shoutout and a boost to a friend’s work today!

If you’ve been following for a while, you may remember that not too long ago I met Darlene, a very talented artist who was one of the early fantasy artists for TSR; one of her most famous works was the fantasy comic Jasmine which ran in Dragon Magazine for 12 issues starting in issue 37. (I have a physical copy of that issue...

Astronomers find the closest known black hole to Earth!

Astronomers find the closest known black hole to Earth!:

I forgot to share this post from Bad Astronomy from last week! Astronomers have found the closest known black hole to Earth, which is about 3 times closer than the previous record holder.

This could be cause to make folks really nervous, because there aren’t a lot of things about black holes that are good for living creatures, to put it nicely. Fortunately, this black hole is still 1,000 light years away, which is way too...

The Anniversary of the Laser at Cambridge University Press – Part 2!

As promised, here’s the link to part 2 of my two-part series of posts at Cambridge University Press on the 60th anniversary of the laser! This post features a discussion of the basic ideas of how a laser works, like stimulated emission that can create an “avalanche” of photons:

Please give it a read! You can read part 1 here.

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The Anniversary of the Laser at Cambridge University Press – Part 1!

On May 16, 1960, Theodore Maiman of Hughes Research Laboratories was the first person to create the now ubiquitous and important source of light that we know as the LASER – Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. This year marks the 60 year anniversary of this achievement, and for this occasion I wrote a blog post for Cambridge University Press on the history of the laser!

Please check it out over at the CUP blog! This is part 1 of 2, and part 2, which describes...

What the 'Humans Are the Virus' Meme Gets So Wrong

What the 'Humans Are the Virus' Meme Gets So Wrong:

As long as I’ve got plagues and catastrophes on my mind, here’s a thoughtful article about the rather common thought these days that the coronavirus is some sort of punishment or reaction to humanity’s destructive effect on the planet. Here, Brian Kahn argues that it’s not humanity in general that’s the problem, as we are PART of the planet, but a rather greedy subset that have pushed and either/or view of humans vs....