Natural Sciences

History of the Conservation of Energy: Booms, Blood, and Beer (Part 1)

Another post inspired by my research into my Falling Felines and Fundamental Physics book!

Energy cannot be created or destroyed, but merely converted from one form to another.

Such is a typical statement of the law of conservation of energy, one of the most important unifying principles of physics.  We constantly experience its effects in our day to day lives, whether we recognize it or not.  When we accelerate our car, for instance, chemical energy in the fuel is converted...

RIP Simon, 2002-2018

It has been a hard year in many ways, but the worst of it has been the loss of numerous loved ones.  Last night, our beloved kitty Simon passed away suddenly at age 16, apparently from a heart problem.

Simon in September of 2015.

It is hard for me to write about the loss of another kitty, after Fluff and Sabrina earlier this year, so this post may not be as long as I’d like: it’s just too painful.  But I wanted to share some memories of this beautiful boy, and convey how much...

Pendulums, spheres, and the spinning Earth

The first of what will hopefully be a small series of posts inspired by research on my Falling Felines and Fundamental Physics book, which will be sent to the publisher this week!

In 1851, French physicist Léon Foucault achieved the seemingly impossible: he discovered a way to bring the motions of the cosmos into the lecture hall for anyone to see and understand.

The invention I’m talking about is now known as Foucault’s pendulum: a free-swinging pendulum that...

Falling Felines Photo Fundraiser update!

Just a quick update here, for those who haven’t been following my GoFundMe page: I’ve made great progress in raising the funds for the photo rights so far — with over 2/3rd covered!  I’ve been quite obsessed with getting the book draft finished and the photographs acquired, so my energy has been focused away from the blog here for a little while.

If you want, though, you can read my updates on the GoFundMe page (donations not required to read them, but...

The Auctioneer, by Joan Samson

I recently started thinking about the structure of horror stories in a new way: relating them to the behavior of natural disasters.  Some stories are unpredictable, with sudden bursts of terror, like lightning strikes or tornadoes.  Others build up a sense of dread gradually, like a coming thunderstorm, or a hurricane.  Much more rare are stories that grind away at the reader bit by bit, like the inexorable erosion of a coastline.

I was inspired of this natural disaster framing...

Burnt Offerings, by Robert Marasco

For many years, I marveled at what appeared to be a genuine dearth of quality haunted house novels.  There are a number of undeniable classics, such as Jay Anson’s The Amityville Horror (1977), Stephen King’s The Shining (1977), Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House (1959), and Richard Matheson’s Hell House (1971), but beyond these it becomes much harder to find good examples.

It turns out that there are, however, plenty of amazing haunted...

Of Men and Monsters, by William Tenn

I’ve noted a few times already that the series of SF Masterworks released by the Orion Publishing Group is a great way to get exposed to some great science fiction that has otherwise fallen off the radar in recent years. I’ve read Brian Aldiss’ Non-Stop (1958) and Nicola Griffith’s Ammonite (1992) in this reprint series, and being pleasantly surprised have gone through a number of others that I will blog about in due course.

One of those that I read some...

Halloween Treats 2018

Every year, since the beginning of this blog, I’ve posted a selection of classic horror and ghost stories for Halloween, as “treats” for my readers! I was originally inspired to do this after I saw Miriam Burstein, who runs The Little Professor, do it first. In a brief exchange on twitter, we talked about how many of the original links to stories we used over the years have broken; I thought that, this year, I would largely focus on tweeting new links and summaries...

The Fantastic Falling Felines and Fundamental Physics Photo Fundraiser

As you may have heard, I’ve been working on a book on the history and physics of cats landing on their feet, titled “Falling Felines and Fundamental Physics.” The book will be published in early 2019, hopefully, and I’m really excited to share it with you!  However, my publisher is a non-profit academic publisher and doesn’t have funds to cover the publishing rights for some key photographs for the book; some of which are quite pricey.

Because...

Nicola Griffith’s Ammonite (1992)

I’ve been quite interested in reading more science fiction in recent months, to make up for my lack of knowledge about the field.  It so turns out that The Orion Publishing Group has released an extensive series called “SF Masterworks” which includes not only famous classics but many more obscure books that I had never heard of.  I first came across the series when I was looking to read Brian Aldiss’ Non-Stop, and since then I’ve grabbed up a...

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