1. 2013

    Science comics

    When I teach classes, sometimes I like to show a comic at the beginning to lighten the mood a bit, or perhaps keep people from falling asleep quite so easily. So I’ve been accumulating this list of science-themed comics for a few years now.

    Newtonian mechanics

    • XKCD 123: Bond and centrifugal force
    • XKCD 135: velociraptor exam
    • XKCD 162: angular momentum slowing the planet
    • XKCD 226: weightlessness on a swing set
    • XKCD 228: resonance in the workplace
    • XKCD 332: gyroscopes are weird
    • XKCD 353: antigravity in Python
    • XKCD 594: period/frequency, and the uterus-hertz
    • XKCD 613: physicists not solving the three-body problem
    • XKCD 669: frictionless vacuums
    • XKCD 755: hitting psychology students with pendulums, interdisciplinary studies
    • XKCD 1001: centrifugal force in a bed
    • XKCD 1175: relative motion on moving sidewalks
    • Abstruse Goose 95: force and The Force
    • The mysteriously missing Abstruse Goose 318: projectile motion and rotations (I challenge you to find this one yourself)


  2. 2011

    The Burzynski Clinic and corporate intimidation

    I had never heard of The Burzynski Clinic until today, when I read this blog post by Rhys Morgan.

    You probably haven’t heard of a man named Stanislaw Burzynski. He offers a treatment called antineoplaston therapy, which he claims can treat cancer, in a centre called the Burzynski Clinic in Houston, Texas. That’s quite a claim, but the Nobel Prize Committee does not need to convene quite yet, because this treatment has been in non-randomised clinical trials since its discovery by Burzynski some 34 years ago. Moreover, no randomised controlled trials showing the effectiveness of antineoplaston therapy have been published in peer reviewed scientific literature.

    It goes on to say that the clinic’s lawyer has been threatening Rhys with a libel lawsuit over some claims made in an earlier post about the ineffectiveness of the antineoplaston therapy.

    Now, I don’t know any of the facts about the therapy, other than what I’ve read in those two posts. But assuming that the posts are accurate, I really want to see Rhys stick it to the man (in this case Burzynski and his lawyer, Marc Stephens) because it shows that being right beats being tough. When it …

  3. 2011

    Good science on The Daily Show

    A while ago I “complained” about something Jon Stewart said during one of his interviews. It was just a minor point, I just wanted to take the opportunity to point out something about the nature of science. So now that The Daily Show has done an entire episode with a scientific theme, while making a bunch of good points, of course I have to mention it. I highly recommend watching it.

    I’m sure I’ll have more to say about this later, but here’s the interview with Lisa Randall:

    The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
    Lisa Randall
    Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook
  4. 2010

    Bad science on The Daily Show

    Normally I love The Daily Show. (Especially in HD) But Jon Stewart's interview with Marilynne Robinson last night really fell short of the usual standard. And not just because she wasn't funny. At 2:52 in:

    The more you delve into science, the more it appears to rely on faith.

    You know, when they start to speak about the universe, they say, well, it's actually, "Most of the universe is antimatter." "Oh really? Where's that?" "Well, you can't see it." "Well, where is it?" "It's there." "Can you measure it?" "We're working on it..."

    The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
    Marilynne Robinson
    Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

    No. Sorry. That's not science. For one thing, nobody with a clue really thinks most of the universe is antimatter. But the more important point is that observation is the core of science. If you can't see something, can't measure it, can't even produce any observable evidence that it exists, you can't pass it off as scientific fact.

    I have to wonder where Jon Stewart is getting this idea that scientists are relying on faith, claiming that things are true without having the …