Category «SCIENCE»

Star Trek: The Motion Picture – The Director’s Cut

It’s hard to impress upon fans born in the twenty-first century just what deserts television networks and movie theaters were for science fiction in the twentieth century. This is not to say those media were devoid of sci-fi, but with only three networks and five major studios, fans were lucky if there were more than …

When We Cease to Understand the World

A review of Benjamin Labatut’s award-nominated collection. They are well-worn clichés: the scientist as tortured genius; the idiot savant who peers unblinkingly into the secrets of the universe while forgetting to eat or bathe; or, at the most superficial, scientists as hopeless nerds, whip-smart but clueless when it comes to “regular” people and their quotidian …

Don’t Look Up

[A review of writer/director Adam McKay’s new sci-fi farce, now streaming on Netflix.] We may very well be in the last days of the American Republic. America has been dysfunctional and divided before (see: the Civil War; the Civil Rights Movement), but our current era of partisan rancor seems unprecedented. The internet promised to bring …

The Kentucky-Darwin Connection

Step just inside the front entrance of the University of Kentucky’s historic Miller Hall and you might notice a brass plaque on the righthand side titled Freedom of Inquiry, the Teaching of Evolution, and the “Monkey Trial”. The plaque reads, in full: In March 1922, the Kentucky House of Representatives debated a bill to prohibit the teaching …

The Creation Museum Is Full of Sh!t

[Originally posted on April 2, 2008 at AmericanFreethought.com.] Yes, I blew $20 at the Creation Museum, brainchild of Answers in Genesis front-man Ken Ham. It’s located in northern Kentucky, across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio. On the drive up along I-75 I didn’t see any billboards advertising it, but there was one of those brown …

Book Review: Einstein: His Life and Universe

[Originally posted on March 19, 2008 at AmericanFreethought.com.] Walter Isaacson’s celebrated biography Einstein: His Life and Universe proves one thing: while Albert Einstein was not the greatest scientist who ever lived, he’s one of the greatest thinkers who ever lived. He wasn’t a scientist in the sense we might think, overseeing experiments and poring meticulously over data; rather, Einstein was a …

Book Review: Freedom Evolves by Daniel Dennett

In this book from 2003, philosopher Daniel Dennett (Breaking the Spell) tries to reconcile free will and Darwinian theory. [Originally posted October 2004 at SciFiDimensions.com; re-posted on February 3, 2008 at AmericanFreethought.com.] Does free will exist? It’s a thorny issue that philosophers have tangled with for millennia. And despite the occasional claim of victory, the …

Book Review: Evolution’s Captain

A review of Peter Nichols’ biography of Robert Fitzroy, captain of the H.M.S. Beagle [Originally posted in February 2004 at SciFiDimensions.com; re-posted on February 2, 2008 at AmericanFreethought.com.] Every schoolchild and amateur scientist knows (or should) that Charles Darwin began developing his ideas about evolution and the origin of species while on a round-the-world voyage aboard …

Book Review: Galileo’s Children

[Originally posted on January 3, 2008 at AmericanFreethought.com. A slightly different version appeared in 2006 in Volume 12, No. 3 of the magazine Skeptic.] It has been nearly four centuries since Galileo Galilei lost his legendary showdown with the Catholic Church’s Court of the Inquisition. Threatened with imprisonment, torture and certain death, Galileo backed down—officially, at …

Movie Review: Flock of Dodos

[Originally posted on November 9, 2007 at AmericanFreethought.com.] Whether we like it or not, the Evolution/Creation Wars will be with us for a while. The forces of Creationism are as determined as ever to challenge Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, especially as it is currently taught in public schools and universities. The Creationists’ latest ploy is ”Intelligent Design,” …