Natural Sciences

The Devil in a Domino, by Chas L’Epine

Thanks to having lots to do at work, a lot of chaos in my life, and a lot of worry about the world in general, I haven’t been able to concentrate well on reading fiction lately.  What I need at the moment are short, pithy reads, and fortunately my friends at Valancourt Books recently released something that fits the bill, The Devil in a Domino (1897), by Chas L’Epine.

The Devil in a Domino tells the story of a twisted serial killer, and is one of the very first books to be...

Dr. SkySkull in Rome: the Vatican Museums

Part 4 of a series of photo essays on my recent trip to Rome. Part 1 can be read here,  Part 2 can be read here, and Part 3 can be read here.

On day 4 of our Rome adventure, we decided to finally venture inside some of Rome’s wonderful buildings!  Most of our time had, up to this point, been spent walking the city and viewing the architecture from the exterior or, in the case of the Colosseum, interior but still outside. Now we were interested in seeing some of the non-architectural...

Paintings I Love, Painting Is Love: A Storify

Somewhat despairing of all the relentlessly bad news in politics and the world, today I decided to post a series of beautiful paintings on twitter as a bit of an antidote.  I invited anyone else to offer their own favorites, and it turned into a rather large and lovely thread.  I compiled all the tweets into a Storify, and thought that I would share that link here for those not on twitter.  A sample:

John Blackburn’s A Book of the Dead

If you’ve read my blog enough, you know that I occasionally write introductions for volumes released by the excellent Valancourt Books, in particular a lot of introductions to the work of the late John Blackburn (1923-1993), master of horror and thrillers.  Well, I’m happy to say that one of Blackburn’s rarest books, A Book of the Dead, was recently released by Valancourt, with an introduction again by me!

A Book of the Dead (1984) is Blackburn’s...

Swift to Chase, by Laird Barron

(Taking a short break from entanglement and Rome posts to catch up on some fiction blogging!)

Laird Barron is, in my humble opinion, one of the most talented authors of horror fiction working today, and will be regarded historically as one of the greats of all time.  I quickly snap up anything new by him — though sometimes it takes me a little while to become aware of it!

I recently read Barron’s Swift to Chase, which came out in October of 2016.  It is the fourth major...

Dr. SkySkull in Rome: Via Appia

Final part in a series of photo essays on my recent trip to Rome. Part 1 can be read here,  Part 2 can be read here, Part 3 can be read here, and Part 4 can be read here.

Sunday was our final day in Rome, and it would be a short day: our flight out was at around 4:00 pm.  However, we had enough time to see one more major sight, and decided to do something a little further out of the city. In fact, the sight in question is literally a way out of the city: Via Appia, known in English as the Appian...

Optics in the solar eclipse!

Just a very short note: I’m on the road, aiming to be in the path of totality of the solar eclipse hitting tomorrow.  One of the things I’m going to be looking at, in addition to the ghostly hidden sun, is the sky surrounding it. I recently wrote a blog post for American Scientist about some of the history of sky measurements during the eclipse: what could be measured, and how?

There’s a bit about light, a bit about sky glow, and a bit about polarization. Check...

10 years of Skulls in the Stars

I’ve been traveling a bit again lately and been rather busy with work, so I haven’t had much time to blog.  I wanted to acknowledge, however, a rather significant milestone of this site: today officially marks the ten year anniversary of Skulls in the Stars.

Sadly, I got some potentially bad news in my personal life today, as well, so I am still not super-motivated to write, but it seemed wrong to not acknowledge such a big date.  I started Skulls in the Stars on August...

Dr. SkySkull in Rome: Colosseo and Palatino

Part 3 of a series of photo essays on my recent trip to Rome. Part 1 can be read here, and Part 2 can be read here.

We got up early on day 3 in Rome to head to the Colosseum.  On the recommendation of my guidebook, I had purchased combined Colosseum/Palatine Hill tickets for us the night before, and this turned out to be a great idea. Instead of waiting in a line that might have been hours long, we were able to go through a separate line where we waiting, in the shade, for some 20 minutes at...

Dr. SkySkull in Rome: Working and walking

Part 2 of a series of photo essays on my recent trip to Rome. Part 1 can be read here.

Day 2 of our Rome trip was a combination of work and vacation. The choice of Rome as a destination was originally motivated by an invitation from an optics colleague to visit him at Roma Tre University, and my former postdoc advisor and I both volunteered to give short talks about our research.  We were scheduled for pre-lunchtime presentations, so we slept in a little bit and then took a taxi to the...

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