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Picks

Hal Harris's picture

Observation of Interference Between Two Bose Condensates

Sun, 02/02/1997 - 01:00 -- Hal Harris

The very first of "Hal's Picks", back in 1995, was the announcement of the first experimental observation of a Bose-Einstein condensate. This can be considered as a new phase of matter, in which atoms in a cold cluster lose their separate identities, because their deBroglie wavelengths exceed the dimension of the group in which they find themselves.

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Enantiomeric Excesses in Meteoritic Amino Acids

Sat, 02/01/1997 - 00:00 -- Hal Harris

The origin of the molecular "handedness" that pervades earth's biology has been an evolutionary puzzle. Given that right and left-handed amino acids have equal energies, why do only the left-handed ones participate in biosynthesis? One hypothesis is that life started from templates that arose from extraterrestrial sources, such as meteors.

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The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

Wed, 01/01/1997 - 00:00 -- Hal Harris

Science lost one of its most eloquent and persuasive spokesmen with the death last month of Carl Sagan. While he was best known as an astronomer and planetary scientist, The Demon-Haunted World should remind us that his interests were far broader than that. Here, he addresses at greater length some questions of pseudoscience that he briefly discussed in Sunday Parade magazine articles.

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Plastic: The Making of a Synthetic Century

Sun, 12/01/1996 - 00:00 -- Hal Harris

The dustcover for this book promises it to be an anti-chemistry diatribe, but I found the book itself, with the exception of a chapter near the end ("The Seat of the Plague") to be relatively even-handed in its treatment of the subject. It is full of interesting anecdotes about the history of polymers and their overwhelming impact on mankind.

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Seven Experiments That Could Change the World: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Revolutionary Science

Fri, 08/02/1996 - 02:00 -- Hal Harris

I picked up this volume because its title suggested that it would encourage hands-on science activities that are essential to good teaching and effective learning. Unfortunately, I discovered on reading it that the author combines a deep antagonism for the scientific "establishment" with credulity for numerous fringe ideas.

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