Faith, physics and the Higgs boson

Physicists love carnage. At Europe's Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world's most powerful particle accelerator, they are smashing streams of protons into each other at terrifying velocities and using powerful computers to examine the wreckage. It's a bit like filming the collision of two logging ... Continue reading

A free man in Paris

I was a free man in Paris; I felt unfettered and alive. There was nobody calling me up for favors and no one's future to decide. You know I'd go back there tomorrow but for the work I've taken on, stoking the star-maker machinery behind the popular song. — Free Man in Paris, Joni Mitchell, ... Continue reading

Broken cisterns

My people have committed a compound sin: they've walked out on me, the fountain of fresh flowing waters, and then dug cisterns — cisterns that leak, cisterns that are no better than sieves. — Jeremiah 2:13, The MessageThe hills and valleys of southern Mexico had turned the color of café con ... Continue reading

An uncertain reality

In scientific work, creative thinking demands seeing things not seen previously, or in ways not previously imagined; and this necessitates jumping off from "normal" positions, and taking risks by departing from reality. The difference between the thinking of the paranoid patient and the scientist ... Continue reading

Underwater Thanksgiving

The headlines don't seem to offer much reason for being thankful this Thanksgiving.My home state of Arizona is second in the nation for "underwater" mortgages, according to a Wall Street Journal report. 48% of all homeowners here owe the bank more than their homes are worth. Nationally, 23% of ... Continue reading

It is well with my soul

Justin Taylor at Between Two Worlds writes: [Tomorrow] in history, 1873, the steamship Ville du Havre was struck by an iron sailing vessel while crossing the Atlantic. 246 people died, including the four daughters of Chicago lawyer Horatio Spafford. His wife Anna survived. Just two years earlier ... Continue reading

The French connection

That's my grandfather, Joseph Yves Louis Lehardy. He was a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, to borrow from Churchill. Both he and my grandmother died before I was born, and 4 of their 7 children passed on before my 18th birthday. His family grew up broken apart by hardship and tragedy; ... Continue reading

Blind faith

When a Fail-Safe system fails, it fails by failing to fail safe. — John Gall, Systemantics: How Systems Work and Especially How They Fail, 1975. "I truly believe Metro is a safe system." — DC Metro General Manager John B Catoe, Jr., quoted in the Washington Post. A "fail-safe" automatic traffic ... Continue reading