City of Glass

Greetings from New York City. My work is very simple. I have come to New York because it is the most forlorn of places, the most abject. The brokenness is everywhere, the disarray is universal. You have only to open your eyes to see it. The broken people, the broken things, the broken thoughts. The … Continue reading City of Glass

On how impractical cuisine can save the humanities

A few weeks ago, following a post on Steve Hsu’s blog, I read an interesting essay by Steven Pinker on science and the humanities: “Science Is Not Your Enemy An impassioned plea to neglected novelists, embattled professors, and tenure-less historians.” It seems these days there’s a deluge of text on the state of the humanities, … Continue reading On how impractical cuisine can save the humanities

Graphs of Science Funding

  There was some conversation in the department today about science funding trends, the discouragingly low success rates for grants, etc. Just to have a place to point to, I’ll post some graphs, with almost no commentary.  Here’s science funding over the past few decades, in constant dollars, from Paula Stephan’s excellent How Economics Shapes … Continue reading Graphs of Science Funding

Books + Berkeley

When I was an undergrad at Berkeley, aside from doing radio astronomy, I worked in Paul McEuen’s lab examining electronic transport in nanostructures, working especially with a  great postdoc named David Cobden. Looking through the contents of last week’s Nature, it was a fun surprise to see pieces by both of these people: one paper, … Continue reading Books + Berkeley

The Mini Lisa

UPDATE: The really amazing media coverage of this is:,33423/   The Onion! I’m very impressed. My friend Jennifer Curtis at Georgia Tech has a paper out featuring a clever nanolithography technique, in which heating an atomic force microscope tip generates a temperature gradient that guides chemical reactions at a surface. Controlling the position and temperature … Continue reading The Mini Lisa


A quiz question for local readers: Where on the University of Oregon campus did I take this photo? Like most people, I tend not to notice things above me. S. (age 4) pointed out these beautiful abstract bicycles as we were wandering through campus. Who knows what other ceiling-situated art there is? Continue reading Up!