The Math of Groundhog’s Day: An Allegory

THE GREAT GROUNDHOG’S DAY CONSPIRACY By Fred Bortz ([email protected]) Many years ago in the Allegheny Mountain town of Punxsutawney PA, a secret committee met, led by Ima Merchant, the head of the local chamber of commerce. Town statistician C. P. Adderly and P. R. Mann, head of a local advertising firm, were also in attendance. … Read more

A visionary new plan for NASA

I’m a little slow on the uptake here, but I guess I thought everyone understood that the Obama administration’s new plan for NASA was not an abandonment of a return to the Moon but rather replacing it with a much more visionary approach, restoring the agency’s leadership in human exploration of the Solar System.

Updates to the Science Shelf plus a new review – edited with addition

The Science Shelf Book Review Archive Spring 2010 Newsletter is now available online. It includes a number of new titles including The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education by Diane Ravitch, who was originally a great booster of “No Child Left Behind.” Click the link or read on for the Ravitch review.

My take on “Climategate”

Another blogger stirred up a predictable argument with his assessment of “Climategate.” I waited for the inevitable bomb-tossing to ensue before commenting. But I think it’s worth making those comments a blog posting of my own. I think they could lead to a civil discussion of how scientists should act when dealing with politically sensitive topics. Care to chime in? Here’s what I wrote:

Children’s Writer Corrects NASA Error!

A writing friend suggested I sensationalize the headline of this little but interesting and instructive tale. So assuming the headline got your attention, read on if you want to know how I noticed a scientific error in the caption on a NASA/JPL Photojournal page. I promise you’ll discover something interesting about the Martian sky if you do.

Expertise vs. Puffery and the Haitian Earthquake

I just read a Scientific American article about an expert who predicted last week that an earthquake near Port-au-Prince would be catastrophic. He was not predicting that such a quake was imminent but rather that it was a calamity waiting to happen.

Contrast that with a recent sparring match I’ve had with a misguided blogger who claims to have a theory that predicts earthquakes–but said nothing about an impending tragedy in Haiti.