On the Myth of the Talented Jerk

You see it all the time, particularly on TV – the computer programmer who is arrogant/politically incorrect/amoral enough to be a royal pain to work with, but is just so good at their job that everyone has to just deal with them anyway. As outlined in an article recounting a PyCon 2015 talk by Jacob…

On the Kepler KIC 8462852 objects and things they might be

There’s something strange going on in orbit of the Kepler star KIC 8462852. As has been extensively covered elsewhere, the star suffers from some unusual obscuring sources which do not have ready explanations. Of course, this has excited a great deal of speculation, ranging from everything from the reserved (Mysterious Star Leaves Scientists Wondering What’s…

on “The Martian” (with spoilers)

Yes, it’s The Martian, the latest great hope of science fiction, after a decade that’s given us a few high-concept contenders for classic sci-fi. Based on a novel by Andy Weir that I read faster than anything I’ve read recently, it’s basically a fictional descendent of Apollo 13: A mission in space gone horribly wrong,…

in which NASA finds water on Mars

NASA has discovered water on Mars! There’s actual signs that liquid water is currently flowing on the planet, in tiny channels, before it evaporates. If this past week’s news has given you a case of deja vu, there’s good reason for it. Over the past few years, NASA has made a string of announcements that…