It is widely believed that modern society is in sharp decline. Crime, especially, is widely considered to be steadily soaring out of control. American politicians frequently join the fray, using the crime issue to assert various political points. For example,
Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton is an advocate of the death penalty, but hopes to
Continue reading Is US crime soaring? Do gun controls encourage crime? The science of crime statistics
The New York Times has published a feature article on mathematician Terence Tao of UCLA, regarded by some as the most brilliant mathematician alive.
Terence Tao was born in Adelaide, Australia, the son of Chinese immigrants. His intelligence and mathematical precocity were evident at a very young age. He taught himself to read at age
Continue reading New York Times features mathematician Terence Tao
If extraterrestrial astronomers or space travelers were to zoom a telescope to view present-day planet Earth, he/she/they might wonder at the strange appendages that many humans seems to have attached to their hands and ears… Yes, iPhones, Androids and now even smart watches have taken society by storm, for better or worse. Ditto for
Continue reading Moore’s Law is 50 years old: Will it continue?
In a 2012 interview, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a U.S. presidential candidate for 2016, was asked “How old do you think the Earth is?” He responded, somewhat coyly: “Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that.” Keep in mind that
Continue reading How certain are scientists that the earth is many millions of years old?
Creationist and and intelligent design writers frequently emphasize “gaps” in the fossil record, and, in particular, claim that there are “missing links” in the human family tree between “apes” and humans. So what are the facts here? Is there indeed an unbridgeable “gap” between apes and humans?
Hardly. To appreciate how far the study
Continue reading Are there “missing links” in the human family tree?
Why is it so hard to find ET? After 50 years of searching, the SETI project has so far found nothing. In the latest development, on April 14, 2015 Penn State researchers announced that after searching through satellite data on 100,000 galaxies, they saw no evidence, such as infrared signatures, indicative of advanced technological
Continue reading Desperately seeking ET: Fermi’s paradox turns 65 (Part II)
Gravitational lensing revealing multiple copies of the same supernova
Sixty five years ago, in 1950, while having lunch with colleagues Edward Teller and Herbert York, who were chatting about a recent cartoon in the New Yorker depicting aliens abducting trash cans in flying saucers, Nobel physicist Enrico Fermi suddenly blurted out, “Where
Continue reading Where is ET? Fermi’s paradox turns 65
“I Prefer Pi” is appropriate title for Pi Day (3/14, i.e., March 14), as it is one of the few palindromes involving Pi = 3.141592653589793… (a palindrome is a phrase that reads the same forwards or backwards).
Pi Day is particularly memorable this year, since only once a century can one celebrate this event in
Continue reading I Prefer Pi: Background for Big Pi Day (3/14/15)
In the field of mathematics, prime numbers are whole numbers that cannot be evenly divided by any integer other than itself and one. The first 12 prime numbers are: 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, 31, 37. Although the study of prime numbers is a very old field of
Continue reading Is the nature of mathematical proof changing?
New Pew Research Center poll on scientists’ views versus public views
A new poll by the Pew Research Center has highlighted some stark differences between views of leading scientists, in particular members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and those of the general U.S. public. The results are summarized in this
Continue reading Does public opinion always agree with scientific fact?