Archive for the ‘Book: Science Excerpts’ category

  1. Avatar

    Can you decode the following acronym-laden sentence?  WoW is a MMORPG.  If you can, then by the psychic power vested in me by the state of overconfidence, I now pronounce you young.  I say that because the sentence translates to World of Warcraft is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game.  In WoW, each player controls […]

  2. Animal Magnetism

    During the 1770s, German physician Anton Mesmer used magnets to treat, among other conditions, mental illness.  Mesmer believed that a magnetic fluid permeated the entire universe, including our bodies, so he would have patients drink a solution containing iron, after which he’d  use magnets to manipulate their internal fluid.  Symptoms sometimes improved, but Mesmer at […]

  3. The Virus

    In 1959, German scientist Wolfhard Weidel wrote a book called (get ready for an ingenious title) Virus, in which he avowed that a virus is, “midway between brute matter and living organism.”  The book’s cover proclaims, “Nothing brings us so close to the riddle of life—and to its solution—as viruses.”  Scientifically speaking that may be […]

  4. The Infinite Monkey Theorem

    I was taught in middle school that given an infinite number of monkeys and an infinite number of typewriters, the monkeys would eventually produce all the great works of literature.  I’m still not certain if that’s true, but I now know that the Infinite Monkey Theorem has been around for a long time, even as […]

  5. Neutron Stars

    Neutron stars are the densest objects known (because politicians aren’t technically “objects”).  Every star’s lifespan is mediated by an astral tug-of-war between its outwardly propulsive fusion furnace and the compressive force of gravity, and how each star dies depends on its size.  If a star is massive enough, when it runs out of nuclear fuel gravity […]