This "Skeptic's Collection" column is dedicated to the life, work, and memory of Prof. Stephen Hawking, Lucasian Professor of theoretical physics and cosmology, Cambridge University, United Kingdom. "To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield." -- Alfred, Lord Tennyson, "Ulysses”
If you have not seen the movie Interstellar, with Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Mackenzie Foy, and John Lithgow, you should run – not walk – to the nearest theater or streaming service and watch it. Interstellar is a not just a science-fiction (SF) movie, it is a science-fiction movie, i.e., it does not cut any corners in terms of depicting the actual consequences of near-light travel, e.g., time dilation, black-hole physics, etc. (In that respect, Interstellar is a cinematic fraternal twin to Dan Si
Sometimes even smart and literate people are somewhat naïve when it comes to science. We had an example just recently when educated and sophisticated people compared prevalent conservative skepticism about climate change / global warming with almost non-existent skepticism about the causes of the recent solar eclipse. But this turns out to be a case of dueling misconceptions about differences in scientific methodology: the methodology used to substantiate climate change and the methodology used to account for solar eclipses. The differences are subtle, requiring a working knowledge of the history of science, but important in appreciating the extent to which the two cases – climate change and eclipses – are not quite comparable. Almost. But not quite.
I am riding this partic
I begin with a question: Izzit just me, or have zombies largely taken over popular movie and text culture in the United States? I do not think it is just me. Now, please understand at the outset: I do not ask this question rancorously, or with the least pejorative intent. Fact is, I like “zombie lit”! I am into the 13-volume-and-counting Kindle-book Arisen cycle of zombie lit, by Stephen Michael Fuchs and Glynn James, and D. J. Molles' The Remaining saga of I-don’t-know-how-many volumes. Ditto Max Brooks' World War Z, both movie and book. I have seen, and loved, Abraham Lincoln vs. the Zombies. Ditto Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I am an over-the-top fan of Fear the Walking Dead, The Walking Dead, and Z-Nation. When I take a sabbatical from reading about the history and interpret