I’ll start this year-in-review post with some highlights of the year in fiction, noting the larger than usual amount of science fiction I read — a mistake I will hopefully not make again — and then write about non-fiction, graphic novels, and movies. (Past years’ lists: 2017, 2016, and 2015.) Fiction My two favorites of … Continue reading The Year in Books, 2018 (in which I am reminded that I don’t like science fiction)
A remarkable graph I came across a few weeks ago, copied below, shows the changes in the numbers of students majoring in various topics between 2011 and 2017. Part of an insightful article by Benjamin Schmidt titled “The History BA Since the Great Recession”, it reports a sharp drop in history majors, a steep rise … Continue reading Local trends in college majors (Or: Do Oregon students choose offbeat degrees?)
Are there general laws governing the gut microbiome? This is an important question if we’re to make sense of how the microbial ecosystem inside each of us influences health and disease, without being overwhelmed by its diversity and complexity. It’s also the question that, almost verbatim, starts off a recent paper from my lab, … Continue reading Kepler, Newton, and Gut Microbes
The U.S. National Science Foundation ran an interesting call for proposals recently called the “Idea Machine,” aiming to gather “Big Ideas” to shape the future of research. It was open not just to scientists, but to anyone interested in potentially identifying grand challenges and new directions. I expect that most of the submissions will be … Continue reading What’s the big idea? Science!
Which University of Oregon department saw its number of undergraduate degrees awarded per year plummet from 82 in 2004 to 22 in 2008, before rebounding to 85 in 2017? The answer is among many that can be gleaned from UO’s excellent Office of Institutional Research website. After conversations in my own department (Physics) about numbers … Continue reading Guess the Major! (A quiz)
One of the most interesting recent developments here at the University of Oregon is the creation of the new Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact, the result of a $500 Million gift from Phil and Penny Knight (of Nike fame). This new mini-campus will be focused on applied / translational research, predominantly related to life-sciences. … Continue reading The 500 million dollar question
What do mice chasing crickets, particle accelerators, solid sponges for natural gas storage, and toddlers with cameras mounted on their heads have in common? All were the subjects of short talks at yesterday afternoon’s “Informal Symposium” on Machine Learning in the Sciences at the University of Oregon, that Teddy Hay, Gabriel Barello, and I co-organized. … Continue reading Machine Learning Mixer