Effects of explosions on the ear (1887)

Here’s another blog post inspired, in part, by my work on my upcoming book on Falling Felines and Fundamental Physics

When we discuss our ideal impressions of science, we often imagine repeatedly doing laboratory experiments in which every variable is controlled and the fundamental phenomenon is isolated from all others.  However, in plenty of situations, especially involving biological specimens, such controlled experiments are impractical, impossible, or unethical.

For instance, as discussed in my upcoming book, there is a phenomenon known as “feline high-rise syndrome,” in which cats that fall from higher floors of a skyscraper are seemingly less injured than those falling from lower floors.  Because — thankfully — nobody is deliberately throwing cats out of windows to study how they fall, veterinarians must rely on those accidental fallen cats that are brought in for treatment.

A similar issue arises for unusual injuries in humans, of course.  A particular spectacular — and horrifying — opportunity arose to systematically study one of these in 1886, when an accidental explosion caught ten people in its concussive blast. Here was a grisly chance for an enterprising researcher to learn more about injuries to the ear that are caused by the sounds of artillery explosions.

The arrangement of men at the U.S. Ordinance Proving Ground, Sandy Hook, October 21, 1886. From Sexton’s paper in Science.

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Falling Felines and Fundamental Physics in Five Languages!

Some exciting news to share: it turns out that my upcoming book on Falling Felines and Fundamental Physics will be translated into five languages so far!  In case you missed the lovely cover image before, here it is again, for the English edition:

Right now, it looks like it’s slated to be translated into: Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, and Chinese, and will also be available in audiobook format!  I will have more details on those translations when they get closer to completion.

In the meantime: please don’t forget that you can pre-order my book through Amazon or directly through the Yale University Press website! It is coming out on October 22nd!  I will be sharing a lot more information next week, once we’re at the one month countdown.

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Old School Dungeons & Dragons: Part 8

It’s a quiet night, and I’m feeling great, so here’s old school D&D, part 8!

Chronomancer (1995), by Loren ColemanChronomancer is one of the oddest AD&D supplements I’ve come across yet, and highlights how much TSR was willing to experiment to keep players engaged in the 1990s.

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Old School Dungeons & Dragons: Part 7

Almost caught up on my old school Dungeons & Dragons posts from twitter!  So here’s part 7!

UK4: When a Star Falls (1984), by Graeme Morris.  We start today with another of the UK-produced modules, which tend to have a very different flavor and welcome quirkiness when compared to their US counterparts.

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Dr. SkySkull in China, Part 6: The Temple of Heaven

Part 6 in a long series of posts about my month and a half in China. Part 1 can be read herePart 2 can be read herePart 3 can be read herePart 4 can be read here, and Part 5 can be read here.

On the day we arrived in Beijing, and on the day before I nearly killed myself climbing the Great Wall, we warmed up by visiting another of the major historical landmarks of the city: The Temple of Heaven.  We in fact visited later in the day, having taken the train from Jinan that morning, but still had plenty of time to see the major sites in what is now a lovely historical park.

That image is just a tease to get your attention, but let’s back up for a minute and discuss the Temple of Heaven, its history, and its purpose.

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Old School Dungeons & Dragons: Part 6

Still doing the research on some new physics blog posts, but in the meantime, I have a lot of old school Dungeons & Dragons to catch up on! So before I share more science tricks, here’s part 6!

CB1: Conan Unchained (1984), by David Cook. As a company, TSR was not immune to the allure of making more money by licensing deals.  Later, I’ll discuss some products that will blow your mind! One of the more obvious choices was to take advantage of the popularity of a certain barbarian, and the actor who played him!

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Old School Dungeons & Dragons: Part 5

Trying to keep my game of catch-up on old school D&D alive, so here’s part 5!

WG5: Mordenkainen’s Fantastic Adventure (1984), by Robert J. Kuntz and Gary Gygax. This adventure is reeeeeally old school, even though it was published in 1984!

The name sounds a bit silly, but don’t let it fool you: this adventure was first written in 1972/1973 by Robert Kuntz in order to challenge the skills of none other than Gary Gygax, who used his wizard Mordenkainen! It is a quite punishing dungeon.

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