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Hal Harris's picture

The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos

Tue, 02/01/2011 - 00:00 -- Hal Harris

Brian Greene has emerged as the most significant spokesperson for modern physics. It isn't just that his two previous best-selling books ("The Elegant Universe" and The "Fabric of the Cosmos") were written to be accessible to the interested non-specialist, but also to excite the imagination of laymen.

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Flights of Fancy

Sun, 01/02/2011 - 01:00 -- Hal Harris

One cold morning last week, as I was out to pick up our newspapers, a group of perhaps 250 starlings took off from a neighbor's trees, rose as a mass, wheeled a couple of circles in the air over the trees and settled in other trees nearby. There were no predators in evidence, so iIt was not clear what made them fly or how they decided when and where to land.

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Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals About Our Everyday Deceptions

Sat, 01/01/2011 - 00:00 -- Hal Harris

Magic shows don t work on children if they are not old enough to have developed the expectation that causes have predictable effects. They accept what their senses tell them, without constructing models that that make the surprising result unexpected.

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The Efficiency Dilemma: What's the best way to use less energy?

Wed, 12/01/2010 - 00:00 -- Hal Harris

I have always thought that the answer to the question in the subtitle of this David Owen article was clear: make the things we do with energy using less of it. Now I am rethinkng that proposition. Owen writes about the application of "Jevons paradox" to energy consumption: the economical use of a resource results not in less consumption, but of more!

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Trick Or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts About Alternative Medicine

Tue, 11/02/2010 - 02:00 -- Hal Harris

"Trick or Treatment" is a critical (very critical) examination of several varieties of alternative medicine. I was surprised to see Simon Singh as lead coauthor of a book about health because I know him as author of a book about math, "Fermat's Enigma", that I recommended in December of 1999. I thought it was the best science/math book of that year.

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Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks

Mon, 11/01/2010 - 01:00 -- Hal Harris

I am a fan of Ben Goldacre's "Bad Science" column in The Guardian. Several hundred of his articles are available free online at http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/series/badscience. His pieces are always well-researched and well-reasoned, and he writes with flair and wit. This slightly edited collection of his essays has recently been released in paperback in the US, after having been on the market in the UK since 2008.

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Mistakes Were Made (but not by me: Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts

Fri, 10/01/2010 - 01:00 -- Hal Harris

I bought "Mistakes Were Made ..." for on a long plane ride, thinking that it would be a light, entertaining read. It did turn out to be very entertaining, but it also has affected the way I think about politics, law, ethics, and the teaching of science.

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The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education

Wed, 09/01/2010 - 01:00 -- Hal Harris

In 2002, President George W. Bush signed the bill that made No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. It was a culmination of sorts of tides that had been growing for years, through both the Clinton and Bush administrations, toward sweeping reform in US schools.

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