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Zero Gravity (and Levity)

January 28, 2012

On that final note, I think it’s time to bring this blog to a close.

Now that I’ve moved on from graduate student to post-doc, my priorities have shifted, and you may have noticed that I haven’t been posting enough to keep this blog respectable.  This seems like more of a permanent change in my work habits than a temporary increase in busyness, so I think that now is the right time to close down Gravity and Levity.

It’s been a tremendous amount of fun, and along the way I somehow attracted a sort of dazzlingly intelligent set of readers leaving intelligent comments.  So thank you.

I leave unfilled a fairly significant list of half-started blog posts and half-developed ideas for future posts.  So if anyone ever wants to invite me to write a guest blog post, I will likely be highly tempted to do so.  If for whatever reason you would like to make such an invitation, feel free to say so in the comments and I will respond by email.

Since this post will sit at the top of Gravity and Levity for the forseeable future, I’ll close with a list of my 16 personal favorite blog posts.  Thanks again, everyone.

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Parenting and the feeling of time: My eight lifetimes

In which I speculate about how we live in logarithmic time.

The fastest possible mile

I search for an asymptote in the progression of the mile word record and come up with 3:39.6.

Finding the hot (and cold) hand at a local gym

With a statistical analysis rebuked, Mrs. G&L and I head to the gym in search of the “hot hand.”  We find instead only evidence for the cold hand.

When Nature plays Skee-ball: the meaning of free energy

I explain free energy by imagining a four year old girl playing Skee-ball.

Braess’s Paradox and the Ewing Theory

An analogy between highway traffic and basketball might explain why your favorite team can get better when its best player is sitting out.

Friedel oscillations: wherein we learn that the electron has a size

Wherein Friedel oscillations are explained using the following sentence: “It’s a bit like letting the richest men in America decide the tax code: it may be right for the guys up front, but it’s too damn much for the people that come later!”

The most important idea in science, and why it’s true

Explaining atomism and the Lennard-Jones law using cheap hand drawings and a youtube video.

Does your culture really affect the gender distribution?

In which I play King Solomon with a suggestion made by science author Matt Ridley.

Your body wasn’t built to last: a lesson from human mortality rates

What we can learn about the human body from the mathematics of mortality.  This post is responsible for more than 1/3 of all web traffic to G&L.

The path integral: calculating the future from an unknown past

Using a life-or-death situation for ants to illustrate the power of path integrals.

A story about quasiparticles on the beach

A good story in science will affect your summer vacation.  In the best possible way.

Being pushed around by empty space: the Casimir effect

Dancing witches produce the Casimir effect.  True story.

“So is the universe made of tiny springs or isn’t it?!”

A memory of being exasperated in quantum field theory class.  Also, Freeman Dyson is much smarter than me.

Feynman’s Ratchet and the perpetual motion gambling scheme

Can you spot a (thermodynamic) scam when you see one?

LeBron James and the Lottery in Babylon

Jorge Luis Borges explains beautifully why we are so drawn to sports.

This is not a story about irony

In which I remember “Paul”, who felt strongly about his calling in life.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. Ellison permalink
    January 28, 2012 10:37 pm

    Wow, this is a bit sad. You blogs are very though provoking. it’s like loosing a friend.
    Thanks!

  2. Erin Keenan permalink
    January 28, 2012 11:33 pm

    Noooooo, this is sad news! Even though your updates are infrequent, they make up for it in awesomeness. For reals, this is one of my favorite blogs ever. (Also, I follow via RSS, so the infrequency doesn’t bother me at all.) This reader, at least, urges you to reconsider. :)

  3. Jon permalink
    January 28, 2012 11:56 pm

    I’m very sorry to hear that. You have a wonderful, engaging writing style, and I’ve really enjoyed learning from you. I hope you continue writing for a popular audience in some form, as I think you have a real gift for it. Thank you for this blog.

  4. gravityandlevity permalink*
    January 29, 2012 11:48 pm

    You are all very kind. Thank you.

  5. January 30, 2012 1:41 am

    Thank you for the entertaining and insightful posts, and good luck with the rest of your life!

  6. January 30, 2012 6:06 pm

    I’m sorry to see you go, but wish you the best in your new endeavors. It’s been a pleasure to follow and read your blog. I still share the Emmy Noether post with my AP physics class.

    • gravityandlevity permalink*
      January 30, 2012 6:25 pm

      I’m glad you liked that one. I felt like I never really did justice to the elegance of Noether’s theorem, but I hope it was somewhat useful for your class.

  7. Brendan permalink
    January 31, 2012 9:00 am

    Irony for the day – today I finally a blog I might actually want to read regularly, only to discover there will be no new contributions. At least I have a backlog to work through.
    Thanks.

  8. itchy permalink
    February 1, 2012 10:25 pm

    Noooooo! I’ll keep this subscription open in my reader in case you change your mind.

  9. Steve permalink
    February 10, 2012 11:46 am

    I’ve never commented before, but I have to say that I’ve really enjoyed reading this blog. Thanks for all the work you’ve put in to it.

  10. W. Y. permalink
    February 17, 2012 12:28 am

    I just found this blog by stumbling on your post on quasiparticles from 9/14/09, which I really enjoyed. I hope you’ll come back to the blog at some point in the future.

  11. Paul Hirsch permalink
    February 19, 2012 6:57 pm

    Thanks for what you did and best wishes for the future.

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