The dark side of the ‘good’ religion

When people try defend religions from the charge that they are riddled with superstitions and are a negative influence on society, they will often invoke Buddhism as a counter example. Even I have spoken favorably of Buddhism in the past but is should be emphasized that Buddhism looks fairly good only in comparison with religions like Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism. [Read more...]

The Higgs Story-Part 4: Particles and waves

To better understand the Higgs field and how it works its magic, we need to make a detour into the history of physics and look at the similarities and differences between particles and waves. In ordinary life (what we call the ‘classical’ world) a particle is a localized object that is usually of small size, has a fairly well defined boundary, and a mass. A grain of rice and a speck of dust are particles. A wave, on the other hand, is the name we give to the pattern of vibrations traveling through some medium (think of the waves in water or sound waves traveling through air) that is extended, has no sharp edges, and does not have mass. [Read more...]

Film review: Robot and Frank (2012)

Robot and Frank is a delightful film set in the near future, close enough to the present to be familiar but far enough that gadgetry, especially robot technology, is highly advanced. It tells the story of Frank (Frank Langella), a retired jewel thief who now lives alone in a rural area. He specialized in robbing from very rich people and has served time in jail in the past. [Read more...]

‘Effing the ineffable’

The post yesterday on god as dog owner about how best to respond to religious people who say that the reason we cannot understand why a good god allows suffering is similar to why a dog does not understand why his owner takes him to the vet for what may be painful treatment for his own good. It is something that to the dog is a deep mystery because it is beyond the dog’s comprehension. In the same way that the owner’s actions are ineffable to the dog, God is ineffable to us. [Read more...]

Paul Dirac on religion

Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac (1902-1984) is one of the founders of quantum physics, whose name we will encounter later in the series of posts on the Higgs. Due to his family’s low financial status, he initially studied engineering but fortunately for the world of physics, he could not get a job as an engineer and managed to scrape up the money to pursue graduate study in physics at Cambridge. He rapidly established himself in the emerging field of quantum mechanics, winning a Nobel Prize at the age of 31. [Read more...]

‘Supermarket gallon smashers’ being charged

Readers may recall that about a month or so ago I expressed my extreme annoyance with those who pretended to have a spectacular fall in supermarkets, breaking gallon jugs of milk and juice and other things, creating a mess, spattering people nearby, and making fools of the people who expressed concern that they might be hurt and tried to help them. They would have an accomplice who recorded the events and posted it on YouTube. [Read more...]