From Woo to Science

In the early 1970s, a skinny kid in Washington State discovered J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Like many nerdy kids at the time, this kid became obsessed with the Trilogy. He became relatively proficient using the runes defined in the Trilogy, even marking up gear he owned with said runes. That kid, of course, was me. In the next decade or so, I gradually moved away from the hard science I’d grown to love in high school. Fantasy fiction replaced […]

More Science in Tech Please

Eric Klein and I have a spirited discussion about how tech reporting and VCs fail to do proper due diligence when it comes to basic science as it pertains to technology topics. We bring up Theranos, crowdfunded artificial gills, UBeam, and other products and companies which fail at basic science. As a VC, Eric agrees, but also talks about the complexities of doing proper scientific due diligence. And let’s not forget the reality distortion zone introduced by charismatic inventors and […]

We Truly Live in an Age of Wonders

This morning I walked into my office and said, “Alexa, turn on the lights.” And lo, there was light. When I first took a programming class in college, waiting 24 hours for decks of punch cards to be returned seemed perfectly normal. When I first programmed an HP-85 for work a few years later, interactively debugging and testing, that seemed perfectly normal. When I peered at grainy photos slowly materializing underneath liquid developer, I felt like I’d learned some arcane […]

The Lady In White

The lady in white appeared on the snowy slope, maybe 30 feet away, maybe 300 feet. The swirling snow and fog brought contrast down to almost zero, which made distance estimation chancy at best. Despite losing my glasses in the snowy wasteland behind me, I could make her out perfectly: a woman, dressed in a long white dress, with pale face and almost white hair. She beckoned to me, as if to say, come to me, it’s safe and warm […]

Science Versus Engineering

I can be pedantic on occasion. When I watched the movie The Martian, something the Mark Watney character said stood out to me: “I’m going to have to science the shit out of this.” That bit of dialog bugged me at the time, but I wasn’t sure why. I realize now, however, that Watney wasn’t talking about science; he was talking about engineering. This hit home when I read a post on Quantum Diaries by Byron Jennings regarding the differences between science and engineering. […]