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  • What the Heck's on Goodreads? 

    May 13, 2018, 21:27

    "Reality in the Shadows (or) What the Heck's the Higgs" is meant to help a new audience come to discover a love of science and especially physics, or to…

  • Classy 

    May 13, 2018, 20:56

    A student films my teaching assistant, in slow-motion, slamming a sledge hammer into a cinder block on my chest while I lay between two beds of nails. I've…

  • Re-Running 

    January 7, 2018, 08:36

    My measured weight from Jan. 10, 2016 to today. By the end of 2016, I was running 10 miles at my longest stretch. Then I injured my hamstring. Then 2017…

  • Road diary, day 3 

    January 4, 2018, 16:43

    Bombogenesis. Noreaster. Bomb cyclone. Polar vortex. These are none of the words you can use to describe the first day of our return trip to Texas. After a…

  • Road Diary, Day 2 

    December 29, 2017, 16:22

    This is the second and last day of our trip north to Wisconsin. As we have continued north into the cold Arctic air parked over the middle and Northeast of…

  • Road diary, day 1 

    December 28, 2017, 15:36

    The cats snooze in their carriers, resigned to life on the road. Jodi and I are on our annual road trip to Wisconsin. It has a new element this year: the…

  • A View from the Shadows: Confessions of a practicing physicist 

    December 24, 2017, 15:39

    "Reality in the Shadows (or) What the Heck's the Higgs?" is meant to help a new audience come to discover a love of science and especially physics, or to…

  • A View from the Shadows: Tune That Dial to Black Hole 

    December 22, 2017, 11:39

    A simulation image, tweeted out by the NRAO, showing what astronomers can expect to see (right) when they crunch the radio data from the supermassive black…

  • A View from the Shadows: The New Astronomy 

    December 17, 2017, 11:23

    Image credit: LIGO/Virgo/Caltech/MIT/Leo Singer (Milky Way image: Axel Mellinger) Sometimes, scientific fields move fast. They move so fast, even three…

  • A View from the Shadows: The Truth and Beauty of the Higgs Boson 

    December 10, 2017, 12:43

    A visualization of what we knew well-enough about the Higgs (solid black lines), and not at all (dashed lines), circa June 2017. Understanding the Higgs will,…

  • A View from the Shadows: The Allegory of the Cave 

    December 6, 2017, 10:01

    Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". This drawing is by Markus Maurer. Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" could almost, taken at face value, be the plot of a movie…

  • What now for U.S. Graduate STEM Education? 

    December 2, 2017, 07:23

    Final Update: What Became Law Dec. 22, 2017 You can love or hate the tax overhaul that Congress passed and the President just signed into law, but there is…

  • A View from the Shadows: Reading List 

    December 1, 2017, 10:32

    "Reality in the Shadows (or) What the Heck's the Higgs" is meant to help a new audience come to discover a love of science and especially physics, or to…

  • A View from the Shadows 

    November 29, 2017, 09:15

    "Reality in the Shadows (or) What the Heck's the Higgs?" is meant to help a new audience come to discover a love of science (and especially physics), and to…

  • What Did You Expect? 

    November 23, 2017, 10:02

    "It's here!" Mandy came running into the house, waving a letter in the air. Levar looked up from reading the news and forced a smile. They'd been waiting…

  • Deliverable 

    November 19, 2017, 08:22

    Senator Orrin Hatch recently said, “I grew up in a shack with a Meadow Gold Dairy sign for a wall. I worked as a janitor to pay for law school. I believe in…

  • Write Your Member of Congress: Graduate Tuition is Not Taxable Income! 

    November 9, 2017, 11:27

    Write your member of Congress today and tell them that making graduate tuition waivers count as part of taxable income will spell doom for higher education in…

  • The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics 

    October 3, 2017, 05:13

    The Nobel Prize committee planned the announcement of the 2017 prize in Physics for Tuesday, October 3, at 11:45am CET (4:45am US Central time). I got up early…

  • A view of Orion 

    August 27, 2017, 09:24

    Venus rises over the mountains east of the SMU campus in Taos, NM. It is nearly sunrise. This weekend is drawing to a close. I write this not from Dallas,…

  • Summer Journal: Part 2 

    August 1, 2017, 15:21

    My notes on machine learning concepts from my whiteboard at the Weizmann Institute, "dressed up" to look like blueprints. The first half of the summer was…

  • The Higgs' Most Favoritist Thing is Beautiful 

    July 6, 2017, 12:13

    The ATLAS detector captures a proton-proton collision that is a promising candidate for the production of a W boson and a Higgs boson, where the Higgs…

  • Draining the Brain 

    July 1, 2017, 18:06

    A healthy human brain depicted on the left, and an Alzheimer's addled brain depicted on the right. The American Political Brain is in the throes of a…

  • Summer Journal: Part 1 

    June 26, 2017, 18:47

    Our summer travels began with a flight from Dallas to Paris, France. There has been too much happening this summer to stop and write about it. Instead,…

  • The Sign of Four Estates: The Week in Review, April 30 - May 6, 2017 

    May 7, 2017, 10:00

    Jodi and I pose in front of the U.S. Capitol Building. We had just emerged from a memorable and excellent visit with Texas Congressman Peter Sessions'…

  • The Dock in the Clouds: The Week in Review, April 23-29, 2017 

    April 30, 2017, 10:06

    My first night at CERN. The weather was unpleasant, wet and cold. But the view of the lab at night, with its various office lights twinkling in a steady…

  • A Force for Greatness: Science Policy Links for the Week of April 16-22, 2017 

    April 23, 2017, 03:42

    Given how much the past few months have been largely about "eating the seed" corn by threatening to pillage the nation's scientific capabilities, this week was…

  • The Pump with No Handle: The Week in Review (April 16 - 22, 2017) 

    April 22, 2017, 10:16

    My gitlab CERN page shows that the last 10 days have been solid blue with coding activity. Being away from SMU and working in London has been ridiculously…

  • The Case of the Street that Wasn't: The Week in Review (April 9-16, 2017) 

    April 16, 2017, 10:40

      A view of the London Eye and Westminster from the Waterloo Bridge. Taken on Easter Sunday, 2017. This last week has been eventful! It began with…

  • Eating the Seed Corn: Science Policy Links for the week of April 9-14, 2017 

    April 14, 2017, 13:29

    Signs and portents abound in rhetoric from the current executive branch of the United States. Science, the only known way of establishing reliable information…

  • A Tale of Two States: The Weeks in Review, March 26 - April 8, 2017 

    April 8, 2017, 10:00

    Traveling from Dallas to Hartford, Connecticut. The last couple of weeks have been quite a mix, with the first one being not-so-interesting (just another…

  • Eating the Seed Corn: Science Policy Reading List for April 7, 2017 

    April 7, 2017, 17:00

    "The Pillars of Science Denial", from http://drrajivdesaimd.com/2013/12/01/imitation-science/ The US President still has selected no science adviser,…

  • Eating the Seed Corn: Science Policy Reading List for March 30, 2017 

    March 30, 2017, 22:13

    The assault by the Executive Branch of the US government continues on basic scientific research and sound policy based on science. Here is a reading list…

  • A Study in Fahrenheit (The Weeks in Review, March 13 - 25) 

    March 25, 2017, 16:06

    Our treacherous refrigerator. I reached into the freezer to grab one of the waffles. It compressed under the touch of my fingers. Frozen waffles aren't…

  • Tips for Science Advocates 

    March 16, 2017, 19:53

    Many of the 2008 high-energy physics laboratory users who advocated for basic science research investment in a trip to Washington D.C. in 2008. I spent a…

  • Anti-Steve: The Week in Review, March 5-12, 2017 

    March 12, 2017, 21:42

    To get to the Tri-Cities in Washington - Pasco, Richland, and Kennewick - you hop a flight in Seattle and make the short trip inland to a beautiful mountain-ri…

  • EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Rejects that the Earth is Round - A Lesson in Two Parts 

    March 10, 2017, 11:39

    Part 1 - What he said The flat earth of Pruitt's imaginings. CNBC's program "Squawk Box" recently interviewed the new EPA chief, Scott Pruitt. In an…

  • Signs and Portents: The Man Behind the Mask 

    March 9, 2017, 13:00

    The mask comes off. Scott Pruitt only partly covered his true feelings at his recent Senate confirmation hearing. Now he's dropping all of the pretense he…

  • Anti-Steve: The Week in Review, Feb. 26 - March 4, 2017 

    March 5, 2017, 20:37

    Parked on the tarmac at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, waiting for our gate to clear so I can finally go home. This was quite a week. I…

  • Signs and Portents: Starving the Limb 

    March 4, 2017, 11:26

    President Trump addresses the U.S. Congress on Feb. 28, 2017. His scripted speech focused on a vision of a flourishing America, including science, while…

  • Anti-Steve - The Week in Review: Feb. 17-25, 2017 

    February 25, 2017, 04:47

    This past week was my last week at CERN during my two-week trip to the laboratory. It was a week filled with many activities: we has an awesome group…

  • Anti-Steve: The Weeks in Review, Feb. 6 - 18 

    February 18, 2017, 09:46

    This sign hangs on the door of an office not far from my own office at CERN. Seeing it was a delightful moment of science humor on a walk back to work. I…

  • On being a scientist in America right now 

    February 4, 2017, 16:50

    There is a question that hangs on the lips of scientists in America right now. If science is under threat, what is the best way to act? There is no simple…

  • Dog Whistles: Phrasing that Encodes Anti-Science 

    January 31, 2017, 19:46

    A "dog whistle" in a political sense is a code phrase that stands for an idea other than the one used in the phrase. Let's look at a dog whistle in the…

  • Trump, Behind Closed Doors, Insists Earth is Flat (a lesson) 

    January 24, 2017, 21:58

    The flat earth of Trump's imaginings. Image from Ref. (2) A story hit the press today - behind closed doors last night, while meeting with both Democrats…

  • Signs and Portents: Rumors of Energy Dept. Gutting and Basic Science Tweets Deleted 

    January 24, 2017, 21:36

    Rick Perry answering questions at his Jan. 19, 2017 confirmation hearing for Secretary of Energy (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster). Perry may have been auditioning…

  • Signs and Portents: White House Website Energy Policy Sketch 

    January 22, 2017, 20:42

    A screen capture of the whitehouse.gov energy policy page from 1/22/17. In a continuing effort to collect the signs and portents from the Trump administrati…

  • Signs and Portents: Rex Tillerson on Climate Change Policy 

    January 18, 2017, 06:32

    Mr. Rex Tillerson seated at his confirmation hearing on January 11, 2017. It's been days since the confirmation hearings of Mr. Rex Tillerson for United…

  • Science Policy Under Trump: Vaccine Policy . . . or maybe not. 

    January 10, 2017, 20:55

    A chart from the CDC showing the rate of measles infections and how it dropped precipitously upon the introduction of the first measles vaccine. Like all…

  • Astrophotography Sunday 

    November 20, 2016, 07:19

    I awoke to the buzzing of my wristwatch. It was 4:30am. The telescope and all its accessories were already in the car. I only needed to get out of bed and…

  • A vigilant eye on science leadership in the U.S. 

    November 14, 2016, 20:24

    Scientists in Washington D.C. in 2009, spreading the message about the benefits of science to society. This was a trip I helped co-organize and involved…

  • Our Possible Futures 

    November 13, 2016, 21:57

    A coal-fired power plant, one of the engines our species created that had ushered in a new age of the Earth: the Anthropocene. Photo by Robert Ashworth. I…

  • Keep talking 

    November 12, 2016, 20:24

    Born in America, he's a humble whiz kid with a penchant for physics and computers and a knack for whipping up miracles in a laboratory. His only crime this day…

  • CERN Travelogue: Week 1 

    October 23, 2016, 13:33

    Walking back from dinner in nearby St. Genis on Thursday night, I stop to photograph a number of office lights on at nearly 11:30pm at CERN. The work never…

  • The Second U.S. Presidential Debate 

    October 9, 2016, 19:15

    A week of sexual-assault-themed events have led to tonight's second debate. Trump was caught on tape bragging about having sexually assaulted women, and then…

  • Bad at two things - intelligent designers on dark matter 

    October 5, 2016, 20:21

    It's been a while since I felt it necessary to comment on the people who profess that things like "intelligent design" are science. However, tonight on Twitter…

  • The Vice Presidential Candidate Debate 

    October 4, 2016, 18:54

      Mike Pence (R) and Tim Kaine (D) square off on Oct. 4 in the first and only US Vice Presidential candidate debate. Tonight is the first and only…

  • Live Blogging: the first 2016 U.S. Presidential debate 

    September 26, 2016, 19:44

    I'll be live-blogging observations and thoughts on the back-and-forth between the two leading U.S. Presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump,…

  • US Presidential Candidates on Science and Policy - Research and Climate Change 

    September 21, 2016, 19:13

    How will the aspirant presidential candidates handle long-term vs. short-term goals in scientific research and engineering? What are their thoughts on climate…

  • The Higgs Boson and the Bottom Quark 

    September 18, 2016, 11:10

    A candidate event from LHC Run 1 for the production of a Higgs and a Z boson; the Higgs is reconstructed as decaying into a pair of bottom quarks, while the Z…

  • US Presidential Candidates on Science and Policy - Innovation 

    September 17, 2016, 15:54

    What is Innovation? Is it something you can't define but you know it when you see it? Let's see how the candidates tried to define what is needed to keep…

  • US Presidential Candidates on Science and Policy - Questions for the Candidates 

    September 17, 2016, 15:00

    A President alone cannot set all science policy for the nation, but a well-informed President is part of a solid science policy portfolio. Photo by Diego…

  • Mid-Campaign: the numbers on honesty 

    September 16, 2016, 19:14

    Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump might each claim the other lies more, but the numbers don't lie: so let's look at the numbers. We're mid-campaign in the…

  • Zipping through Oshkosh 

    September 9, 2016, 10:27

    We zip through Oshkosh after a brief stop. Have to keep moving North. We have appointments to keep and still many hours left to this drive. 

  • Pleasant day in Wisconsin 

    September 9, 2016, 09:00

    Sure, it is cloudy, but the weather is so pleasant. We are approaching Oshkosh on our trek north. I like the country out here. Very green and very open, dotted…

  • Northbound and down 

    September 9, 2016, 08:09

    Hello, traffic. We begin the trek north for a family event weekend in Wisconsin. Of course, we begin this trip the way all trips north in Wisconsin should…

  • Weight, in Numbers, Summer 2016 

    September 5, 2016, 18:20

    My weight, averaged over short periods of time beginning in early 2012, reported by my Withings scale.This summer was not only for physics research and…

  • End-of-Summer: Teaching at SMU-in-Taos 

    August 27, 2016, 18:57

    The eight students in our August Term Astronomy course, photographed along with us and the new teaching telescope ("Peruna's Scope") that we were able to…

  • A liar in the desert 

    June 22, 2016, 08:31

    To the U.S. Evangelical Community, wandering in what seems to them an 8-year political desert, this is a dangerous time for them - a time of temptation, a…

  • Field Notes: Two Weeks at CERN 

    June 16, 2016, 09:00

    A beautiful sunset as rain moved into the valley between the Jura and the Saleve. I take an evening walk at CERN to get a break from physics analysis…

  • Field Notes: Rencontres de Blois 2016 

    June 13, 2016, 05:42

    A panorama of one of the conference lunches at Rencontres de Blois. Physicists gathered after the morning sessions to discuss the talks, relax, and talk about…

  • The Data-Driven Life - a status report 

    March 25, 2016, 18:34

    Me in 2009 (left) and me in 2016 (right). The difference is at the level of about 40 lbs, and the shape of my head doesn't tell the full story. On January…

  • Anti-Steve: The Week in Review, March 13 - March 18, 2016 

    March 19, 2016, 11:12

    The Moriond Conferences! This last week was a killer. I'm lucky I didn't get sick again. Up at 05:30 every day. In bed well after 21:00 or 22:00 every…

  • Presidential Candidates and Verbal Honesty 

    March 12, 2016, 14:55

    Verbal Honesty Score and the raw data that were used to compute the score. Data is from PolitiFact.com as of 3/12/2016. As a physicist, I am fascinated…

  • Anti-Steve: The Week in Review, February 8-12, 2016 

    February 15, 2016, 11:42

    A scene from the SMU Research Day on Feb. 10. This was an incredible week, not because of anything that happened specifically to me but because of what…

  • LIGO, VIRGO, and February 11, 2016 

    February 10, 2016, 07:15

    The LIGO gravity wave detection experiment - Livingston, Louisiana site. 100 years ago, Albert Einstein published what is considered the foundational work…

  • Anti-Steve: the week in review (2/1-2/5) 

    February 10, 2016, 07:13

    My nominators for the SMU HOPE award, Christo (left) and Lucy (right). Photo by Mark Kerins. Last week was a whirlwind of a week. I attended an awards…

  • Anti-Steve: The Week in Review (January 25-29, 2016) 

    January 31, 2016, 07:56

    The atomic spectral lines of hydrogen (bottom) and helium (top). These elements are the most abundant in stars like our sun. This photo was taken in preparatio…

  • Anti-Steve: The Week in Review, January 18 - January 22, 2016 

    January 23, 2016, 09:41

    This was the best start to a semester that I have had in a long time. My first day of class was Tuesday, and my course has hit a major milestone this semester.…

  • PoliSci: Trumping Statistics 

    January 14, 2016, 15:17

    Trump brags about beating Hillary Clinton in a national contest, based on a total misunderstanding (or intentional misrepresentation) of numbers from Real…

  • Memes vs. Facts: What the President Said 

    January 6, 2016, 09:21

    The reality distortion field is strong with this meme. This circulated hours after the President gave a speech about executive power and how it might be…

  • Northbound 

    December 28, 2015, 20:03

    A toppled tractor trailer truck lying in the median ditch of I-35, a victim of the forces of nature parading through the central United States this week. To…

  • Anti-Steve: the end of the semester 

    December 23, 2015, 20:39

    The moon on the night of December 23, 2015. This was shot using my Nexus 6 aimed into the eyepiece of my telescope. In many ways, this was a remarkable…

  • When the Twit Hits the Fans: Faculty, Sportsball, and False Gods 

    November 20, 2015, 21:30

    Recently, snark and sarcasm about my University's Sportball program led me into the seedy, human-waste-filled undertow of the Social Web. Here are my thoughts…

  • Acts of Discovery Require Failure 

    November 20, 2015, 20:55

    All of the speakers at the TEDxSMU-sponsored "Loyd on the Lawn" event. Rain drove us into a breezeway but the power of Loyd Commons drew a crowd for a fun…

  • Bad Science Writing: College Paper Edition 

    November 9, 2015, 15:26

    A screen capture of the digital print version of this article on the Paleo Diet. It claims to debunk diets, but is so credulous that I think this word they…

  • Microcosm: when science and the public meet 

    November 8, 2015, 11:37

    A recent DCII Panel Event on "Scientific Research and Public Responses" at SMU. Science is a process by which reliable information is obtained by repeated…

  • Photos from the Joint Meeting of the Texas Sections of the APS+AAPT+SPS 

    November 1, 2015, 19:58

    Photos from our recent trip to Baylor University for the joint meeting of the Texas Sections of the American Association of Physics Teachers, American Physical…

  • Photos from a walk by The Old Stone Dam in Allen, TX 

    October 25, 2015, 19:02

    Some photos from a walk near The Old Stone Dam. I hadn't been to it yet, and it was as lovely as Jodi told it me it would be.    

  • Trick or Treat or Pseudoscience? 

    October 24, 2015, 16:14

    When a charity organization that works to support families and children dealing with childhood cancer partners with a race organization that promotes…

  • Anti-Steve: The Week in Review, October 11-16 

    October 17, 2015, 10:32

    A flight back from CERN (well, London actually) kicked off my last weekend of Fall Break. Hilarity ensued. I haven't done a week-in-review in quite a…

  • Science and its Opposite: Social Media Story About Walnuts Labeled as Drugs by the FDA 

    October 12, 2015, 09:06

    A web article makes the claim that the FDA labeled Diamond Foods' walnuts as "drugs". But is that what really happened? Photo from Ref. 5. A social media…

  • The Lovely Neutrino: Some Resources for the Public 

    October 7, 2015, 01:25

    The 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics is awarded for discovery of neutrino oscillation; but what are neutrinos, and what does it mean that they "oscillate"? Yeste…

  • Anti-Steve: The Weeks in Review, June 27 - August 9, 2015 

    August 16, 2015, 19:23

    I've gone silent for may weeks primarily out of a re-prioritization of my time since returning from CERN. It was a very busy finish to the work period at…

  • Anti-Steve: The Week in Review (6/23 - 6/27) 

    June 28, 2015, 02:28

    On a touring walk of CERN for the new summer grad students, we found it... THE ANTIMATTER FACTORY! Always knew this thing was real... This was a very good…

  • Anti-Steve: The Weeks in Review, 6/13 - 6/22 

    June 24, 2015, 13:19

    The SMU CERN team, out for dinner on a rainy Saturday night in Geneva, Switzerland. Not pictured is one of our post-docs, who had just gotten off weeks of…

  • Anti-Steve: The Many Weeks in Review (5/2 - 6/12) 

    June 13, 2015, 04:12

    Jodi and I pose in front of the "Temple of Love" in the gardens of Versailles, France. It's been a busy month, and the only reason I am pausing to jot all…

  • Anti-Steve: The Weeks in Review, 4/12 - 5/1 

    May 3, 2015, 15:28

    As many of the physics students as we could find and cram in a photo for SMU Honors Convocation 2015. This was an incredibly busy month, and I've only had…

  • Anti-Steve: The Week in Review (4/5-4/11) 

    April 11, 2015, 08:53

    A nice walk to Friday night dinner turned into family phone call meeting crisis time. Oh well . . . it just doesn't seem like a normal day without family…

  • Anti-Steve: The Weeks in Review, 3/15-3/28 

    March 28, 2015, 08:57

    A view of Mt. Ranier down the mall near the Suzzallo Library at University of Washington. The past couple of weeks have been extremely busy. Jodi and I…

  • Anti-Steve: The Week in Review, 3/13 

    March 13, 2015, 06:42

    Remote monitoring of our "E-Shield" experiment using Firefox Hello. It's that time again - time to think back long and hard on the week that was. The past…

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