Category Archives: science

Revisiting the Overpopulation Question


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One of the strange things about my profession is that I can never predict what the public will be fascinated by. Some years ago, I wrote a paper predicting that the sperm quality of men in less industrialized populations would not be as compromised as that of us men in the developed world. But what went viral was the paper’s introduction, which repeated what pretty much every gamete researcher already knows, that measured sperm quality has been declining for decades. Continue reading Revisiting the Overpopulation Question

Why We Need a Control Group


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A common casual discussion topic among my fellow educators is the question of what the essential focus should be for a true universal education system. Having seen an increasing sense of innumeracy and relative ignorance of recent history among my own students, my default position is always that everyone –young and old– could benefit from remediation in both mathematics and general history. Continue reading Why We Need a Control Group

On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies


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March 14 every year is a special day for me. In North America, it’s “pi day” (3.13…. 3/14… get it?) I was going to celebrate with some actual pie, but my fasting blood sugar levels suggested that that’s not the wisest move, so I reneged.

Today, it’s also a sad day, due to the passing of Dr Stephen Hawking.  When I was a young physics student, Hawking fascinated me (as he did everyone else) for so many reasons. His debilitating disease gave him an air of specialness that, thankfully, was well correlated with his intellectual heft. Continue reading On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies

In Defence of Space


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(This post has since been adapted into an article for The Huffington Post titled “No, Humanity Isn’t Worse Off Because Elon Musk Launched SpaceX”)

Nine years ago, I wrote this screed in response to Ashton Kutcher’s ill-informed comments about the price and benefits of the US space program. I returned to the topic two years later in this post.

It seems I must address this topic yet again, as angry activists have once more taken financial aim at expensive innovation, this time targeting space entrepreneur Elon Musk’s recent triumphant launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket, which, for the purposes of PR, included a Tesla sports car thrown to Mars and beyond. Continue reading In Defence of Space