Five French Scientists

We’re in Paris for a week. See last week’s post for information about the A380 we flew. Here are five French scientists we’d like to meet while we’re in France, if only they were still alive. These scientists represent the kind of thinking we appreciate, thinking outside the box and searching for novel connections. Marie Curie (1867-1934) Okay, she was a naturalized French citizen, but … Continue reading Five French Scientists

Science Writing at AWP 2013 (Part 2)

Also see Part 1 of “Science Writing at AWP 2013.” We like to keep busy at Lofty Ambitions, but attending an AWP panel that is comprised of Pireeni Sundaralingam, Alan Lightman, C. Dale Young, and Sandra Alcosser tends to make one pause, get a little introspective, and ask, “Could I be working just a tad bit harder?” Three of the four panelists are writers who … Continue reading Science Writing at AWP 2013 (Part 2)

The Cutting Edge of Modern Physics & a Poem

Last week, we posted “You say, Festschriften; I say, that’s a funny word.” The next evening, we attended a public discussion among Yakir Aharonov, Sir Michael Berry, Paul Davies, François Englert, and Nobel Laureate Sir Anthony Leggett; that discussion was called “The Cutting Edge of Modern Physics: Achievements and Opportunities.” We were impressed by how well these physicists made their own specialized fields accessible to the lay audience. What also … Continue reading The Cutting Edge of Modern Physics & a Poem

Update from Ragdale and A Nuclear Birthday

On Thursday evening, after dining on walnut burgers, chipotle sweet potatoes, and sautéed spinach, we built a fire in the fireplace and settled in for a long editing session. We spent more than four hours working our way aloud through the two chapters we’ve drafted since our writing residency began. Yesterday, it snowed in big clumps. From our second-floor windows, we watched the snow fall. … Continue reading Update from Ragdale and A Nuclear Birthday

In the Footsteps (Part 11)

We spent yesterday in Pasadena—at CalTech and Vroman’s Bookstore—because that’s how we chose to spend one of Doug’s vacation days. We had been planning to visit the CalTech archives for a while, but we chose yesterday because our colleague Tom Zoellner was reading at Vroman’s from his new book A Safeway in Arizona: What the Gabrielle Giffords Shooting Tells Us about the Grand Canyon State … Continue reading In the Footsteps (Part 11)

Beautiful Science

Last week, we wrote about a temporary exhibit at the Huntington Library. Today is the anniversary of Kelly Johnson’s death. We mentioned several of Kelly Johnson’s written pieces in last week’s blog because he was a central figure in Southern California’s aviation history. Read about “Blue Sky Metropolis” HERE. Past that exhibit is an ongoing display called “Beautiful Science.” Most science museums, while relatively aesthetically inviting … Continue reading Beautiful Science

Pie with Einstein

We’re working on our regular post for Wednesday, thinking about scale in the wake of the earthquake in Japan, and wishing things were better than they are there. For now, we’ve distracted ourselves because today is Pi Day. The shorthand for today’s date is 3/14, and that’s the start of the numerical representation of the mathematical constant pi: 3.14. A circle’s circumference is always its … Continue reading Pie with Einstein

Guest Blog: Brian Foster

We welcome guest blogger and physicist Brian Foster this week. With Jack violinist Jack Liebeck, he does a program called “Einstein’s Universe.” Click here to find out more about the upcoming events. Brian Foster is a professor of experimental physics at Oxford University. His CV is twelve pages chockfull of publications, awards, and grants. His books include Electron-Positron Annihilation Physics. Among other aspects of particle physics, … Continue reading Guest Blog: Brian Foster

10:17 Birthdays & More

Sharing birthdays on October 17 are Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders (1933), daredevil Evel Knievel (1938), and Space Shuttle astronaut Mae Jemison (1956). Those of us who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s remember Evel Knievel, dressed in his red, white, and blue garb. He attempted to jump this, that, and the other thing, including the Snake River Canyon on a motorcycle—or rather, on … Continue reading 10:17 Birthdays & More

On Books: A Nerd by Any Other Name

In future posts, we’ll offer recommendations for good books about aviation, science, writing, and collaborating. But as we were talking about those tomes, we realized that our most important book experience was as children in homes with a set of the World Book Encyclopedia. This encyclopedia offered our young selves answers we sought to specific questions—where is this country Uruguay, what are its capital, natural … Continue reading On Books: A Nerd by Any Other Name