Tag Archives: Science

Little Flower, If I Could Understand

In celebration of Earth Day and as scientists protest anti-science measures in Washington, Tennyson’s “Flower in the Crannied Wall” is a good poem to revisit. Tennyson holds the tiny flower as a scientist might but then honors its immense complexity.

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Rakunks & Wolvogs & Pigoons, Oh My!

As gene splicing becomes more common, we need novels like Margaret Atwood’s “Oryx and Crake” to point out the dangers. By making connections, good dystopian fiction serves to wakes us up.

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Gulliver, Recommended for Scientists

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson’s favorite book to recommend is not a book of science but Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels.” This shows him to be a very wise man.

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Using Lit to Discover Purpose in Science

My Intro to Literature students, few of whom are English majors, are often startled to discover that literature understands them better than they understand themselves. Today’s post describes the encounters between two science majors and, respectively, Wordsworth’s “Intimations of Immortality” and Kingsolver’s “Flight Behavior.”

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Donne’s Lovers, Spooky at a Distance

Tuesday Adam Gopnik makes some nice literary allusions in a recent New Yorker essay-review of George Musser’s Spooky at a Distance, which is about the history of quantum entanglement theory. Entanglement, also known as non-locality and described by Einstein as “spooky at a distance,” claims that two particles of a single wave function can influence each other, even […]

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Milton Cautions vs. Scientific Arrogance

One of my science students found a way to examine her frustrations at her limited knowledge by looking at Satan and Eve in “Paradise Lost.”

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The Unassailable Thankfulness of Life

In this wonderful poem Robert Barasch steps beyond sterile evolution-creationism debates to insist on the wonder of life.

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Student Learns from Learn’d Astronomer

One of my students took profound lessons from “When I Heard My Learn’d Astronomer.”

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Prospero’s Magic, a Model for Fantasy Lit

“The Tempest” fits magically into a fantasy course.

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Jane Austen, Must Reading for Scientists

Jane Austen can serve as a warning to scientists about confirmation bias.

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Using Lucille Clifton to Defend the Arts

There’s a decline in English majors at elite universities. We use a Lucille Clifton poem to respond.

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The Wood Tick’s Holy Grail Quest

Only an imaginative biologist like David Haskell would compare wood ticks with Camelot knights..

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Nature Red in Tooth & Claw? Maybe Not

Carleton’s Ian Barbour turned to Tennyson in seeking to find connections between science and religion.

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The Deep (Not Scientific) Truth of Genesis

The Book of Genesis, like poetry, captures truths inaccessible to science.

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Midwife, No Doc, at Grandson’s Birth

My new grandson had the birth experience denied Tristram Shandy: one where a midwife was in charge.

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The Brainiest Detective and the Brain

How well did Sherlock Holmes anticipate future studies of the brain? Not very well.

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Metaphors and the Brain

I read a fascinating article in yesterday’s New York Times on metaphors and the brain. If I understand Robert Sapolsky’s piece correctly, the insula—which is the part of the brain that processes, say, disgust with rotten food—also processes “rotten” when it is used as a metaphor (as in “the very deep did rot” from Rime […]

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Rising Again to Dance

Chidi Okoye (Nigeria)  Spiritual Sunday I refute Berkeley thus, Samuel Johnson famously said. And kicked a rock. Bishop Berkeley was the 18th century idealist philosopher who asked how we know reality is really there if we are dependent upon our senses for perceiving it. Is the rock in existence when we turn our backs? Johnson’s […]

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