“Sheckley’s stories operate as irresistible language-artifacts, like extended puns or paradoxes: off-kilter, provocative, unsettling even if partly silly. They’re like psychedelic lamps that cast an eerie light in one room where they’re encountered, but then turn out to transform one’s view of all subsequent rooms. These are the kind of stories which, if young or otherwise inattentive at first encounter, you may forget the title and the author’s name, only to rediscover them in some anthology many years later, with a sense of recognition akin to discovering someone else recounting a dream that you yourself once had.”—from Jonathan Lethem and Alex Abramovich’s introduction to their selection of Robert Sheckley stories, Store of the Worlds, out May 1, 2012. (via nyrbclassics)
In theoretical physics we discover that all our laws can be written in mathematical form; and that this has a certain simplicity and beauty about it. So, ultimately, in order to understand nature it may be necessary to have a deeper understanding of mathematical relationships. But the real reason [for scientists to study mathematics] is that the subject is enjoyable, and although we humans cut nature up in different ways, and we have different courses in different departments, such compartmentalization is really artificial, and we should take our intellectual pleasures where we find them.
Yes, the quality of the biomedical community is rapidly deteriorating, and once those who earned their stripes in the 70’s and 80’s retire, those who came into science when the culture was much healthier, we’ll likely be in bad shape:
But Dr. Fang worries that the situation could be become much more dire if nothing happens soon. “When our generation goes away, where is the new generation going to be?” he asked. “All the scientists I know are so anxious about their funding that they don’t make inspiring role models. I heard it from my own kids, who went into art and music respectively. They said, ‘You know, we see you, and you don’t look very happy.’ ”
“My name is Thomas Hanley, and my case history is of particular interest to anthropologists, sociologists, and students of the bizarre. In its humble way, it serves as an example of one of the more obscure mating customs of the late 20th century. To begin with, I own several gray flannel suits…
I can’t wait for the NYRB Sheckley volume to arrive in 2 weeks…
Graduate schools have become increasingly enthusiastic about recruiting outstanding students with strong backgrounds in these fields to address challenging problems in the biological and biomedical sciences. This is an important trend, except that too often faculty mistakenly assume that learning biology is easy, leaving these very talented young people nearly on their own to acquire the biological wisdom that they will need to explore the many mysteries in living systems. In fact, it is not at all easy to acquire the type of deep understanding of biology that is required to make wise decisions about what is, and what is not, an important problem to investigate; and a successful career in research will require much more than just a union of different expertise and tools.
Conservapedia really captures just about everything wrong with right-wing thinking:
"Relativity has been met with much resistance in the scientific world," declares Conservapedia. "To date, a Nobel Prize has never been awarded for Relativity." The site goes on to catalogue the "political aspects of relativity," charging that some liberals have "extrapolated the theory" to favor their agendas. That includes President Barack Obama, who (it is claimed) helped publish an article applying relativity in the legal sphere while attending Harvard Law School in the late 1980s.