Whenever you look at the teeming, rich and oh-so-various world, if you've got the right eyes, if you've got the eyes of a mathematician, you will find patterns — simple, elegant forms hiding in everything you see. Those patterns explain why sugar dissolves in a cup of coffee, why clouds release rain, why a heavy plane can climb into the sky.
Originally published on Tue October 29, 2013 1:56 pm
By Adam Frank
Carl Sagan, an astronomer with the soul of a poet, liked to remind us that we were all "star stuff." It was, without a doubt, one of his most beautiful images. But what, really, was Sagan talking about?
Well, there are two answers to this question. The first is remarkable, the second is crazy-remarkable and, if we pay attention, both can open a hidden doorway for us to the depths of time we swim in everyday without ever noticing.
When you're in love with science, ordinary everyday stuff can suddenly seem extraordinary. At least that's how NPR blogger and astrophysicist Adam Frank sees it, even down to the dust on his car.
ADAM FRANK, BYLINE: Carl Sagan, an astronomer with the soul of a poet, liked to remind us that we are all star stuff. It was without a doubt one of his most beautiful images. But what really was Carl Sagan talking about? Well, there are two answers to this question.
Anthropologist Lynne Isbell was running through a glade in central Kenya in 1992 when something suddenly caused her to freeze in her tracks. "I stopped just in front of a cobra," she says. "It was raised with its hood spread out."
Isbell, who is at the University of California, Davis, says she has spent the past couple of decades trying to understand how she could have reacted before her conscious brain even had a chance to think — cobra!
Originally published on Mon October 28, 2013 3:58 pm
Halloween is a time for creativity and imagination. Children and adults alike are given free rein to carve pumpkins, decorate wildly, conceive novel costumes and entertain witches and goblins and ghosts in their myriad forms.
For adults, the boundary between fantasy and reality is typically a clear one, at least when it comes to Halloween beasties. Flying witches are fantasy, but the 3-foot-tall "ghost" demanding candy on your doorstep on Oct. 31 is an all-too-real child beneath that white sheet.
This week, we're exploring the tech frontier through the eyes of our children. So we're starting with the littlest ones — babies. Can certain kinds of screen time help babies learn?
To find some answers, I employed the help of my 1-year-old daughter, Eva. She's still a wobbly walker and the sum total of her speaking skills sound like gibberish. But she has no problem activating Siri, the virtual assistant on my iPhone. Her 16-month-old friend, Lily, is even savvier with the gadgets.
Morning recess at St. Augustine Catholic School in Culver City, Calif., is like recess in many other schools. Children run and play in the afternoon sun. But nearby, away from the basketball hoops and the games of tag, the staff is preparing.
Next to the playground sits a cargo container full of supplies: water, duct tape, an axe, a shovel and a generator along with gasoline. All of these supplies are here just in case the freeways are cut off or the power goes out — in case there is a major, destructive earthquake.