A more technical post than most. If the symbol and the equation look familiar to you, you’ll be fine. If not, you may still like the post, but in case you’re about to depart I’ll put my customary link to my pop-science biophysics book’s description here, and also share this week’s news that it will … Continue reading What does the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle have to do with microscopy?
A terrible question to ask in science is unfortunately quite common: Does something affect something else? It seems innocuous enough — after all, one might want to know whether exposure to sunlight affects one’s risk of skin cancer, or whether the location of the moons of Jupiter affects the stock market. The answer, however, is … Continue reading Pushed around by stars
I’ve thought more about CRISPR and genome editing over the past year than ever before, ending up devoting a chapter to it in my upcoming popular science biophysics book. The ability to cut, paste, and edit strands of DNA inside living cells is truly amazing, an advance that deserves all the hype that it’s received … Continue reading CRISPR, the Nobel Prize, and the “Forgotten Man”
Update May 12, 2020: I intend to start the course during the week of May 18, 2020. If you’re interested in taking it, please do the following by May 15, 2020: (i) Get the up-to-date syllabus here; (ii) Write your name and email address on this sheet if you haven’t already contacted me; (iii) Note … Continue reading An informal image analysis course
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, the proliferation of models of the spread of the virus rivals the spread of the virus itself. Looking at these models is dizzying, and their accuracy so far, especially with respect to heterogeneity across regions, is unimpressive. Of course, modeling an ongoing pandemic is hard, but recently a more fundamental … Continue reading Known and unknown pandemic models
This evening, the American Physical Society suddenly cancelled its largest annual conference, the March Meeting, the day before it was to start. I’m one of the 10,000 physicists who will now not be spending the coming week in Denver. The cancellation is due to fears of the coronavirus. Some would say the caution is warranted; … Continue reading A Coronavirus-Cancelled Conference
Synopsis: I investigate a mystery about rising conference costs and reach a different conclusion than expected. (From 2019; a January 2022 update is at the end.) A few days ago I was registering for the American Physical Society (APS) March Meeting, the major yearly gathering of Physicists, and noticed that the registration fee is quite … Continue reading The Case of the Rising Conference Registration Fee
There is a deluge of research papers; it is impossible to keep up. Everyone knows this and tackles it in their own way — plowing either systematically or randomly through as many new publications as they can, or giving up and just searching for papers when needed. I think it’s important to be aware of … Continue reading Papers as noise
For months I’ve been intending to write about a fascinating and frightening 2018 paper on the “half-life” of scientists — how long scientists remain in the scientific workforce. I was reminded of this recently by an excellent paper comparing the impact of small and large research groups on science. The two papers should perhaps be … Continue reading Science, Small Groups, and Stochasticity
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!