A triumph of seeing

by Daniel Ranard You must have seen the iconic image of the blue-white earth, perfectly round against the black of space. How did NASA produce the famous “Blue Marble” image? Actually, Harrison Schmitt just snapped a photo on his 70mm Hasselblad. Or maybe it was his buddy Eugene Cernan, or Ron Evans – their accounts…

Parade of Images

by Daniel Ranard how do you know the moonis moving: see the dry casting of the beach worm dissolve at the delicate rising touch:–A.R. Ammons, in Expressions of Sea Level During the August eclipse, I overheard a funny bit of philosophy. I'll tell it verbatim, I swear. Tree branches had enclosed a stretch of path…

What is a shape?

by Daniel Ranard Maybe you've heard by now about last week's Nobel Prize in Physics, awarded to three physicists for their work on topological phase transitions. But if you didn't already know what a topological phase transition was, chances are you still don't. When a friend of mine read a few popular articles on the…

Why does math work?

by Daniel Ranard Math works pretty well. We can count apples and oranges; we can scribble equations and then launch a rocket that lands gently upright. When an argument is indisputable, we colloquially say “do the math,” and we speak of events that will happen with “mathematical certainty.” Math works so well that you're forced…