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Press and Pop Culture

GoT Starbucks Cups and Astrolabes

Game of Thrones fans, and a disturbingly large part of the internet, erupted over an errant paper coffee cup, complete with plastic sippy lid that somehow found its way onto a table on set. For a few seconds during the feast celebrating the defeat of the Night King, on the table near Daenerys Stormborn of […]

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Press and Pop Culture

Feynman Relics

A pile of Richard Feynman detritus sold recently at Sotheby’s.1 In total, the 44 lots of Feynman’s stuff fetched $3,796,625, most of it paid for Feynman’s Nobel Prize.2 While I remain puzzled by the desire to own souvenirs from some famous scientist, I am truly baffled by the fact that somebody paid $60,000 for Feynman’s […]

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Press and Pop Culture

Kanye West & Galileo

Kanye West’s recent interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live took an unexpected turn when West invoked Galileo, implying that they were both misunderstood geniuses who wouldn’t be silenced by bullies telling them what to think. West was responding to Kimmel, who had asked about West’s views on the president.[1] I’m not interested West’s opinions about the […]

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Press and Pop Culture

Galilean Moon Crackers

Wandering through Trader Joe’s this morning, I stumbled across an excellent and under explored career for historians of science: marketing and advertising. Picking up some snacks, I noticed the Cheddar Rocket Crackers. In typical Trader Joe’s fashion, the package combined a bit of a goofy aesthetic with retro images. Brilliant! Why, I thought, not use […]

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Press and Pop Culture

Doritos™ Alchemy

I recently stumbled across this spec Doritos™ commercial David Ward made a six years ago. Really well done adaptations of the alchemist motif. You gotta love the list of ingredients (also, not listed, Unicorn tears): Staff of Anubis Philosopher Stone Rubber Hammer Rubber Nails Moon Rock Salt Archimedes Screw Harpsichord Parachute Blank Bag of Holding […]

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Press and Pop Culture

Jon Pace & the Latest Prime Number

In case you missed it, the world has a new largest prime number called M77232917: 46733318335923109998833558556111552125132110281771449579858233859356792348052117720748431109974020884962136809003804931724836 … and on and on and on for another 23,249,300 digits. That number is unimaginably large. It is so large that even analogies meant to help us wrap our minds around it are nearly unimaginable. Who can imagine a […]

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Press and Pop Culture

The Use and Abuse of Isaac Newton

Bitcoin’s recent rise has prompted an ever growing number of people to misstate and otherwise abuse Newton’s laws of motions. Predictions of a Bitcoin crash typically invoke “Newton’s Law of Universal Gravity [which] states that what goes up must come down” or some version of that “law”. The whole Newton’s law of “what goes up […]

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Press and Pop Culture

Astrolabes and S•Town

On Thursday, February 16, at 5:36 PM I was standing in a faculty meeting when my phone vibrated. I fished it out of my pocket and looked at the screen. I had just received a voicemail and a text from the same number, a number I didn’t recognize. The text asked, simply: “Is this the […]

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Press and Pop Culture

Yet Another Flat Earther

In a footnote to a previous post I worried that in a post on Columbus and the flat earth myth Valerie Strauss had preferred the opinions of a mathematician over the expertise of a historian. And in fact, Strauss did prefer the dilettante to the expert. She rejected the historian’s conclusions, which were based in […]

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Press and Pop Culture

Another Flat Earther

I marvel at the power of that old chestnut about people in the middle ages believing the earth was flat. Even a person who rejects the myth that Columbus proved the earth was a sphere nevertheless trots out the poor, benighted medieval Europeans as believers in a flat earth. Consider, for example, Valerie Strauss’s post […]