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Picks

Hal Harris's picture

The Invention of Air: A Story of Science, Faith, Revolution and the Birth of America

Thu, 01/01/2009 - 00:00 -- Hal Harris

The BCCE in 1994 was at Bucknell University, not far from the US home of Joseph Priestley, and I was one of a group that went there to see his place. While I knew some of his scientific contributions, I did not at the time appreciate how important a role he had played in the intellectual life of the nascent republic.

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The Archimedes Codex: How a Medieval Prayer Book is Revealing the True Genius of Antiquity's Greatest Scientist

Mon, 12/01/2008 - 00:00 -- Hal Harris

I bought "The Archimedes Codex" (the cloth cover edition, no less) because of the recommendation of Dick Pagni in the Summer Reading article in July, 2008. The book is available in paper beginning next month (January), but it is the kind of book that you might want to keep permanently in your library.

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Physics for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines

Mon, 09/01/2008 - 01:00 -- Hal Harris

The Presidential campaign to this point has been waged so devoid of issues that one might think that there is nothing to discuss other than lipstick and the number of houses the candidates own. Beyond such trivialities as foreign policy, health care, immigration and the war(s), there a few minor issues that have something to do with science.

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Measuring Up: What Educational Testing Really Tells Us

Fri, 08/01/2008 - 01:00 -- Hal Harris

Whether you are trying to choose a school for your child (or deciding which district to move into), evaluate a student or a teacher, comply with the requirements of No Child Left Behind, admit students or apply for admittance, or compare the educational systems of different countries, there is likely to be some kind of a test involved.

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The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives

Tue, 07/01/2008 - 01:00 -- Hal Harris

George Gamow introduced me to Monte Carlo methods in a chapter of "One Two Three Infinity" (Hal's Pick of April, 2001) that I first read when I was about twelve. His vivid description and witty illustration of the path of a staggering drunk comes clearly to mind even these many decades later, and it surely inspired my research on a number of projects.

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The Sky is Falling

Sun, 06/01/2008 - 01:00 -- Hal Harris

How likely is it that an asteroid or a comet of significant size will impact the earth, and what would be the consequences? It is now widely accepted that the dinosaurs were wiped out by such an event, and recent research suggests that previous estimates of the number of asteroid impacts may have been much too low.

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The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments

Thu, 05/01/2008 - 01:00 -- Hal Harris

Lists of "the best" movies, books, sports stars, American Idols, etc. etc. are often intriguing and controversial. Science has its own lists, be they Nobelists or most-cited publications. Just a little while ago (could it really have been November, 2005?) Philip Ball's list of "elegant" chemistry experiments was my choice of the month.

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