Category Archives: … the Hell?

An open letter to NC State Senator Tom McInnis

Dear Senator McInnis, I recently read with some concern, first in The Daily Tarheel and then on Slate, about your proposed Senate bill 593, ironically titled “An act to improve the quality of instruction at the constituent 3 institutions of the University of North Carolina.”  This … Continue reading

Posted in ... the Hell?, Politics | Leave a comment

A one-act play about a study in hiring practices in STEM

Scene: A table at Starbucks Cast: Man #1, a wealthy benefactor Man #2, an enlightened guy Man #1: Let me ask you a hypothetical question: given the choice, would you rather have world peace or a billion dollars? Man #2: Oh, … Continue reading

Posted in ... the Hell?, General science, Women in science | 1 Comment

Dr. SkySkull and the mystery of the subluminal superluminal light!

References in a scientific paper are supposed to answer questions, not raise them, but sometimes they inadvertently create a minor mystery for the reader.  A few weeks back, I blogged about the curious phenomenon of subluminal vacuum beams of light, … Continue reading

Posted in ... the Hell?, Optics | 4 Comments

Slurstorm, and the flaws in “Shirtstorm” arguments

I hate writing posts like this.  I prefer to write about fun physics, history of science and cool horror fiction.  But some things are so appalling and disgusting that one must speak up, especially if one’s friends are attacked. You … Continue reading

Posted in ... the Hell?

The Great Sausage Duel of 1865

(Tip o’ the hat to Blake Stacey for first pointing this story out to me!) The history of science is filled with macabre tales of self-experimentation, amoral experimentation on others, horrific accidents, and even mysterious and sinister disappearances. Perhaps the … Continue reading

Posted in ... the Hell?, History of science | 9 Comments

How anti-vaccination is like a nuclear bomb

Update: tweaked the descriptions of nuclear physics to be a little more specific. I’m not sure that anything fills me with despair more than the trend of parents refusing to vaccinate their children. A couple of weeks ago, an article … Continue reading

Posted in ... the Hell?, General science, Health | 14 Comments

Infinite series: not quite as weird as some would say

Updated with a third footnote clarifying my use of the term “diverge,” thanks to suggestion by Evelyn Lamb, who has also written an excellent discussion of the problem with the video.  At the end of this post I list all the … Continue reading

Posted in ... the Hell?, Mathematics | 30 Comments