Ötzi-quel

This ongoing saga of Ötzi the Iceman fascinates me. I first learned of him from Radiolab a few years ago, but turns out we keep learning more about this mythic Italian mummy: The more scientists learn, the more recognizable the Iceman becomes. He was 5 feet 5 inches tall (about average height for his time),… Read more Ötzi-quel

Refer Madness: PB & A

Refer Madness spotlights strange, intriguing, or otherwise noteworthy questions I encounter at the library reference desk. Here’s an interesting one that came to the desk: the PseudoBulbar Affect. (Pseudo “false” + Bulbar, referring to the brainstem.) A patron said she had it and was looking for some scholarly information about it. According to PBAinfo.org, PBA occurs when “certain neurologic diseases… Read more Refer Madness: PB & A

The Martian

I conducted an experiment with The Martian. Too many times I’ve read a book before seeing its movie version and have come out of the theater disappointed they didn’t show this or showed too much of that, and above all that I knew what was going to happen. Seems the conventional wisdom is that you… Read more The Martian

How to Feel Small

I like things that make me feel small. Like If The Moon Were Only 1 Pixel, a “tediously accurate scale model of the solar system” that, as you scroll horizontally, reveals the vast span of our neighborhood: Or Why Time Flies, a philosophical exploration of our fungible awareness of time: Or The Scale of the Universe (my favorite), which, as… Read more How to Feel Small

How We Got to Now

I couldn’t put down How We Got To Now, Steven Johnson’s six-part book on “innovations that made the modern world.” The book is an exposition on the theory of the “hummingbird effect,” which occurs when “an innovation, or cluster of innovations, in one field ends up triggering changes that seem to belong to a different domain altogether.”… Read more How We Got to Now

Einterstellar

My new definition of cosmic irony: to be in the midst of Walter Isaacson’s Einstein: His Life and Universe as I went to see Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, a marvel of a film that directly references Einstein and his theory of relativity. I had a chuckle during the film when that moment arrived, not because I understand the theory… Read more Einterstellar