Liberal Arts Classes Could Teach Neil deGrasse Tyson a Thing or Two about the Path from Data to Wisdom

Your mileage may vary, but I immediately thought of Galadriel in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, who states this problem in negative terms. Yes, she’s a made-up character delivering a line in a movie about an imaginary ring from a fantasy book, but anyone who really understands Tolkien’s story will have reflected on the connection between localized morality (the imagined injustice Gollum faces, and the real prejudice he experiences…

Shakespeare on Eclipses

Prepping for tomorrow’s first meeting of my Shakespeare class. In 1598, during Shakespeare’s lifetime, England experienced a total solar eclipse, with the path of totality tracking from Cornwall in the southwest up to Aberdeen in Scotland. As we in the twenty-first century prepare for the Great American Eclipse on Aug 21, let’s look at three of the ways Shakespeare used eclipses in his plays and poems: 1. An eclipse as an ill…

Trump Briefly Glanced at Eclipse without Protective Glasses

Donald Trump’s persona as a man who doesn’t like to be told what to do feeds into the spread of this image of him staring directly at the eclipse without protective glasses. I’ve seen it portrayed as if an aide warned Trump not to do it, and then he immediately did it anyway, on impulse. Naturally I investigated. Recalling the still photo taken of Trump appearing to ignore his own…

NASA: No, The Eclipse Won’t Blind Pets

I once heard a fellow grad student say Galileo went blind because the the Church tortured him, I said no, he went blind because he looked at the sun through a telescope. Turns out both stories are myths. Galileo did go partially blind from cataract and glaucoma in his 70s. “Galileo was well aware of the dangers of direct solar observations and seems to have predominantly used the projection technique…

People with autism spectrum disorder avoid eye contact because it causes anxiety

My culture has taught me that eye contact is a sign of respect and empathy. As a teacher, I value eye contact because it’s a way students can assure me they are paying attention. (Lack of eye contact is also useful feedback; when I see too many students smiling vacantly while staring at something they are holding under the table, I know I need to shift my teaching tactics.) Today…