Welcome to Sciencenoise. This is the home for some of my writings about science. I am now semi-retired, although I write often for the website of Science News magazine, where I was editor in chief from 2007 to 2012 and was managing editor from 2014 to 2017. You can access my articles at sciencenewsblog.org. I also contribute occasionally to Knowable Magazine. If you wish to be alerted when I publish something new, you can follow me on Twitter at @tom_siegfried.
In September 2019, my book on the history of the cosmic multiverse will be published by Harvard University Press. It's called The Number of the Heavens: A History of the Multiverse and the Quest to Understand the Cosmos. The Amazon page is here.
From my archive
A lecture on statistics
Science Journalism From First Principles
My advice on writing for new science writers
My Science News essay "Odds Are It's Wrong"
You can send comments or questions to me about the content of this website to firstname.lastname@example.org
Frances Arnold has won (10/3/18) the Nobel Prize in chemistry. I wrote about her work in 2003: read it here.
Messages below have not been updated since 2013. For current notices about things I've written, see my stream of tweets at right.
I've been named the winner of the American Institute of Physics Science Communication Award for 2013. The prize was for an essay I wrote in Science News on the occasion of the discovery of the Higgs boson. You can read the essay here.
On October 8, Peter Higgs was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for his prediction of the field responsible for the existence of the Higgs boson (along with another physicist who did similar work). My blog about the circumstances that led Higgs to predict the existence of the particle as well as the field is here.
Nobody has ever found any, but the existence of negative mass in the universe remains a theoretical possibility. If it does exist, it will be very weird. My blog post on the strange behavior of negative mass is here; Part II, on whether antimatter has negative mass, is here. And for a bonus, you can read my Top 10 Negative Inventions of all time here.
This year is the 50th anniversary of the first paper by Edward Lorenz about chaos in the weather. He never actually said whether a butterfly in Brazil could cause a tornado in texas, by the way. My column is here.
My latest essay on the statistical problems that render many scientific results bogus has appeared on the Nautilus website, here. I've posted a list of the sources that I used here.
Some scientists persist in advocating the idea that something not observable cannot be considered real and is therefore not scientific. But by that reasoning nobody should have believed in atoms until a few decades ago when modern microscopy made it possible to image them. Nowadays many physicists pursue the study of other things that may not ever be observable, such as the vast conglomeration of parallel universes known as the multiverse. In my latest Randomness column, available here, I discuss a paper by Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek, who defends the scientific status of multiverse research by invoking a principle he calls "multiversality." In a nutshell, he points out that if the only explanation for observable phenomena implies the existence of something unobservable, it's reasonable to consider that unobservable thing real as well.
July marks the 100th anniversary of the first of three papers by Niels Bohr presenting his model of the atom. Bohr's atom explained the perplexing nucleus-plus-electrons structure of the atom discovered by Rutherford and established the fundamental role of quantum physics in the workings of physical reality. My essay in Science News on the Bohr atom is available here.
The FDA says it will reconsider restrictions on the diabetes drug Avandia. About time. The 2007 paper linking Avandia to heart attacks was seriously flawed, as I described on pages 18-19 of my Hill lecture and in a 2010 Science News essay.
Two of the biggest cosmic mysteries may have a single solution. Identifying the dark matter, which makes up most of the mass of the universe, could also explain wht there is apparently much more matter than antimatter in the universe — if the dark matter is made of antimatter nuggets. My summary here of new paper here.