Wed
Jul 16 2008 5:51pm

Your Intrepid Science Blogger Checks In

Science!All righty, I think I'll pop in now and say hello:

When Patrick Nielsen Hayden told me about the wacky Tor.com thing they were thinking of doing, he also asked me if I would be interested in doing some blogging on the site. And I said to him, well, you know, I do have my own blog. And he said, yes, I've heard rumors of such a thing, but I'd be interested in you being Tor.com's science blogger.

And I said, ooooooh, okay.

Because, as it happens, in addition to writing science fiction, I also write about science from time to time: I'm the author of The Rough Guide to the Universe, an astronomy book, and frequently contribute explanatory science articles to the Uncle John's Bathroom Reader series of books, most notably the Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Plunges Into the Universe book. Yes, yes, go ahead and chuckle at the idea of people learning science on the pot, but that book sold more than 100,000 copies, most of them not to your average science book reader. Now there's a nice chunk of middle Americans who know a little bit more about science than they did before. I think that's valuable, don't you?

So when PNH said, hey, point out shiny science thingies on Tor.com, it was an offer that I couldn't refuse. I love me the science, and I love pointing out shiny science thingies that I find online, on the blogs and in the magazines and other places online where people talk about science and topics related to science. And so here I am. It should be fun, because science is fun (well, except for the parts that are boring. But that's what grad students are for. Whoo-hoo, academic slavery!). I plan on having fun, anyway. Hopefully you will too.

And there you have it: Hello, how you doing, let's talk about science, shall we? Excellent. 

18 comments
Arachne Jericho
1. arachnejericho
I've read the Rough Guide to the Universe, 2nd edition---fun and targeted towards the beginning astronomer (you know, wants to look up into the sky with lenses and things, not just read about it), even the beginning astronomer who doesn't know she wants to be a beginning astronomer.

"Science is fun!" is not something that gets bandied about off the blogosphere. Do you have any favorite fun-science blogs to recommend? I really only know of Phil Plait's mondo-awesome Bad Astronomy.
John Scalzi
2. Scalzi
I love me some Bad Astronomy, definitely. I'll be talking more about my favorite science bloggers as I go along, to be sure.
JR Peck
3. stoolpigeon
I'm all for science.  Looking forward to not only your observations, but the inevitable wit that comes with them.  I think that what would be fun - is not only pointing out the good stuff, but the bad.
 
I think it would also be cool if there were opportunities for active participation.  I don't what the legal end of that looks like but I think it would be awesome.
- -
4. heresiarch
Actually, I'm going to come out against science. Gives me the willies, it does. Where will it lead us next, hmm? The Moon? You know what they say about the Moon.
Brad DeLong
5. delong
Perhaps you will be the man who finally explains decoherence to me in a way that is not incoherent to me...

And what is bbCode? And why is it allowed?


Brad DeLong
Brad DeLong
6. delong
Perhaps you will be the man who finally explains decoherence to me in a way that is not incoherent to me...

And what is bbCode? And why is it allowed?


Brad DeLong
Rich McAllister
7. k6rfm
Well, before one can understand complicated stuff like decoherence, one must understand simple things like mathematics. Like the Banach-Tarski theorem: you can take a solid sphere of radius 1, cut it up into a finite number of pieces, and reassemble the pieces into two solid spheres of radius one.
BruceB
8. BruceB
Brad, bbCode is an alternative set of markup tags, comparable to HTML. A lot of popular web forums use it, so it's a courtesy to folks from that meta-culture.

John, a particular request when you get around to link roundup and reviewing: Is there anything as cool and compact and handy for other sciences as the Astronomy Picture of the Day?
John Scalzi
9. Scalzi
There are some things like that (for example, an Earth Science Picture of the Day); I'll look around for more as well.
Mark Ensley
10. mensley
k6rfm: It's helpful to those who aren't familiar with modern abstract math to point out that the Banach-Tarski trick only works with spheres made with 100% pure infinitely-divisible Unobtanium(tm) and not with stuff that's as annoyingly chunky as real live matter.

If people don't feel like getting a graduate text on measure theory there's a fairly readable book on the (so-called) paradox entitled The Pea and the Sun by Leonard Wapner.
paul wallich
11. paulw
Damn. I thought non-tenure-track faculty were for the parts that were boring, and grad students were for the parts that just needed a lot of cheap labor.

So is this going to be about math, or is it going to be about science?
Laurie Ashton
12. LMAshton
All I know is that it sounds like it could be fun. I like fun. I like science. I especially like when the two merge. :) And we really need smilies here. :D
Mark Ensley
13. mensley
paulw: Hey, I'm just tryin' to be helpful here. k6rfm brought up the advanced math stuff and I thought a nod to a readable book on what ve posted would be cool.

I thought your comment, "So is this going to be about math, or is it going to be about science?" was one of the funniest things I've read in a long time until I suspected you were being serious.

John, I would go on about this and rant but I don't want to derail your thread and I think this could be a cool topic for a future post.
Peggy Kolm
14. Peggy
Science and fun are two great tastes that taste great together!

@ arachnejericho: I quite enjoy Jennifer Ouellette's Cocktail Party Physics blog.
Jeffrey Richard
15. neutronjockey
John, do you have a particular science category or subject that you prefer to talk about (ie Astronomy: solar life-cycles) or do you prefer general questions and topics?
John Scalzi
16. Scalzi
I'll probably tend to lean toward space stuff, on account that's where my own interests are, but I'm going to try to cover a range of things.
Harvey Byas
17. HarveythePuca
Hey John,

Well i'm here and am I glad to hear that you are a guest blogger for TOR. Other than looking at the stars and wondering, what other science do you read, study or keep up with?

PS love the short story, fits in with the series.

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