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Robert Scherrer
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Robert Scherrer's posts

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The Physics Problem that Isaac Newton Couldn't Solve
I spent the year before graduate school doing research at the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge. While I was there, Martin Rees (later Sir Martin, and now Lord Rees) gave a talk to the new graduate students on the best way to choose a Ph.D. dissertation t...

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Star Trek Dentistry
Upon reaching a Certain Age, your teeth begin to disintegrate -- something to look forward to, kids! Thus it was that I found myself sitting my dentist's office last week, waiting for a new tooth. What I hadn't realized is that dentistry has, over the past ...

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If You Miss Next Month's Eclipse...
In just one more month, the city of Nashville will host part of the  Great American Eclipse . I can already feel the excitement building, along with the email inquiries about housing in the area. If you're planning to drive somewhere to view the eclipse, bo...

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The Next AI Frontier: Teaching Computers to Lie
I got into a minor kerfuffle over at Steve Hsu's blog when I commented on  this post  about AlphaGo, the neural net program that has blown away all of the human competition in the game of Go. I said that I would be more impressed when computers mastered Dip...

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Fr. Georges Lemaitre and Cosmology
If you'd like to see my talk on Fr. Georges Lemaitre and his contributions to cosmology, there is a video posted here . You'll find me about half-way down on the right-hand side. The other talks were also very interesting and definitely worth your attention.

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The Smartest Person Who Ever Lived
Who was the greatest genius in human history? Einstein? Newton? Mark Zuckerberg? (Hint: not Mark Zuckerberg). My vote goes to someone who probably died about 3000 years ago on the shores of the Eastern Mediterranean. Consider this fact: it's likely that eve...

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The Mystery of Cosmic Lithium
When most people think of lithium, they probably think of antidepressants, or possibly lithium batteries. But to a cosmologist, lithium is the misshapen puzzle piece -- the one that won't quite fit, no matter how hard you push it. What does lithium mean to ...

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Physics in the Year 2116
Last year Physics Today ran an essay competition called "Physics in 2116." The idea was to write a science article that might appear in Physics Today 100 years from now. Motivated largely by the enormous prize money, I entered the competition but, alas, min...

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Lies, Damned Lies, and Astronomy Photos
I'm sure you've all see beautiful images like this NASA photo of the Crab Nebula: Who you gonna believe, me, or your own eyes? Just imagine if you looked at the Crab Nebula through a powerful telescope -- you'd see something that looked... nothing at all li...

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Germany's Famous Science Museum
I spent last week in Munich -- my first visit to Germany in 30 years. At this point, I am supposed to insert the obligatory paragraph expressing shock and surprise at how much everything had changed. But frankly, Germany didn't seem all that different from ...
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