Go On Till You Come to the End; Then Stop
31 October 2017 | 7:04 am

Go On Till You Come to the End; Then Stop

ScienceBlogs is coming to an end. I don't know that there was ever a really official announcement of this, but the bloggers got email a while back letting us know that the site will be closing down. I've been absolutely getting crushed between work and the book-in-progress and getting Charlie the pupper, but I did manage to export and re-import the content to an archive site back on steelypips.org. (The theme there is an awful default WordPress one, but I'm too slammed with work to make it look better; the point is just to have an online archive for the temporary redirects to work with.)

I'm one of a handful who were there from the very beginning to the bitter end-- I got asked to join up in late 2005, and the first new post here was on January 11,2016 (I copied over some older content before it went live, so it wasn't just a blank page with a "Welcome to my new blog!" post). It seems fitting to have the last post be on the site's last day of operation.

The history of ScienceBlogs and my place in it was... complicated. There were some early efforts to build a real community among the bloggers, but we turned out to be an irascible lot, and after a while that kind of fell apart. The site was originally associated with Seed magazine, which folded, then it was a stand-alone thing for a bit, then partnered with National Geoographic, and the last few years it's been an independent entity again. I've been mostly blogging at Forbes since mid-2015, so I've been pretty removed from the network-- I'm honestly not even sure what blogs have been active in the past few years. I'll continue to blog at Forbes, and may or may not re-launch more personal blogging at the archive site. A lot of that content is now posted to

What led to the slow demise of ScienceBlogs? Like most people who've been associated with it over the years, I have Thoughts on the subject, but I don't really feel like airing them at this point. (If somebody else wants to write an epic oral history of SB, email me, and we can talk...) I don't think it was ever going to be a high-margin business, and there were a number of mis-steps over the years that undercut the money-making potential even more. I probably burned or at least charred some bridges by staying with the site as long as I did, but whatever. And it's not like anybody else is getting fabulously wealthy from running blog networks that pay reasonable rates.

ScienceBlogs unquestionably gave an enormous boost to my career. I've gotten any number of cool opportunities as a direct result of blogging here, most importantly my career as a writer of pop-physics books. There were some things along the way that didn't pan out as I'd hoped, but this site launched me to what fame I have, and I'll always be grateful for that.

So, ave atque vale, ScienceBlogs. It was a noble experiment, and the good days were very good indeed.

drorzel Tue, 10/31/2017 - 03:04

Meet Charlie
30 October 2017 | 6:15 pm

Meet Charlie

It's been a couple of years since we lost the Queen of Niskayuna, and we've held off getting a dog until now because we were planning a big home renovation-- adding on to the mud room, creating a new bedroom on the second floor, and gutting and replacing the kitchen. This was quite the undertaking, and we would not have wanted to put a dog through that. It was bad enough putting us through that...

Withe the renovation complete, we started looking for a dog a month or so back, and eventually ended up working with a local rescue group with the brilliantly unsubtle name Help Orphan Puppies. This weekend, we officially adopted this cutie:

Charlie, the new pupper at Chateau Steelypips, showing off his one pointy ear.

He was listed on the website as "Prince," but his foster family had been calling him "Charlie," and the kids liked that name a lot, so we're keeping it. He's a Plott Hound mix (the "mix" being evident in the one ear that sticks up while the other flops down), one of six puppies found with his mother back in May in a ravine in I think they said South Carolina. He's the last of the litter to find a permanent home. The name change is appropriate, as Emmy was listed as "Princess" before we adopted her and changed her name.

Charlie's a sweet and energetic boy, who's basically housebroken, and sorta-kinda crate trained, which is about the same as Emmy when we got her. He knows how to sit, and is learning other commands. He's very sweet with people, and we haven't really met any other dogs yet, but he was fostered in a home with two other dogs, so we hope he'll do well. And he's super good at jumping-- he cleared a 28" child safety gate we were attempting to use to keep him in the mud room-- and does a zoom with the best of them:

Charlie does a zoom.

The kids are absolutely over the moon about having a dog again, as you can see from their paparazzi turn:

Charlie poses for the paparazzi.

He's a very good boy, all in all, and we're very pleased to have him. I can't really describe how good it felt on Saturday afternoon to once again settle down on the couch with a football game on tv, and drop my hand down to pet a dog lying on the floor next to me. I still miss some things about Emmy, but Charlie's already filling a huge void.

drorzel Mon, 10/30/2017 - 14:15

Physics Blogging Round-Up: August
1 September 2017 | 7:23 am

Physics Blogging Round-Up: August

Another month, another set of blog posts. This one includes the highest traffic I think I've ever seen for a post, including the one that started me on the path to a book deal:

-- The ALPHA Experiment Records Another First In Measuring Antihydrogen: The good folks trapping antimatter at CERN have now measured the hyperfine spectrum of hydrogen, which is a good excuse to explain what that is and why it matters.

-- 7 Suggestions For Succeeding In Science In College: It's the time of year when lots of people give unsolicited advice to the college-bound, and who am I to buck that trend?

-- How To Look At The Sun Without Buying Eclipse Glasses: How to make a pinhole camera, and the optics of how it works.

-- Quantum Physics Isn't Magic But Thermodynamics Seems That Way: Looking at the microscopic physics of boiling water is pretty incredible.

-- Why Do Basketball Shooters Put Spin On The Ball: A look at the physics of why basketball coaches teach kids to "follow through" in order to put back spin on a jump shot.

The eclipse thing, as you can tell from the date stamp, was knocked together very quickly on the weekend before the Monday total eclipse. Later that evening, I went to look at how many people had read it, and was completely shocked-- I guess Google picked it up really quickly, or something, but it got over a quarter-million views in the course of an afternoon. I was hoping it'd hit half a million, but even Mick Jagger can't always get what he wants, so who am I to complain?

I was also very surprised at how well the thermodynamics post did, which I thought might've been a little too noodle-y, but it got a lot of pleased responses. Maybe there's more of an audience than I thought out there hoping for someone to write at length about thermal physics...

Anyway, that's August's crop of posts. I'm not going to officially call a halt, but with the new academic year starting next Wednesday, posting is likely to slow wayyyy down. But then again, a lot of other things in the world suck at the moment, so blogging about physics might turn out to be a pleasant break...

drorzel Fri, 09/01/2017 - 03:23


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