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Hal Harris's picture

The Odds of That

Thu, 08/01/2002 - 01:00 -- Hal Harris

When nearly a dozen scientists, all in some way associated with research on biotechnology, die within a year of the 9/11 attacks, can it be coincidence? Yes, says Lisa Belkin, author of this excellent article on one of the constants of pseudoscience, the attribution of "cause" to random events.

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One Good Turn: A Natural History of the Screwdriver and the Screw

Mon, 07/01/2002 - 01:00 -- Hal Harris

It goes without saying (amongst males, at least), that one can never have too many tools. Most of us probably have more screwdrivers than any other tool, both because of their utility and their high vapor pressure (like my reading glasses), and so one needs to buy more in order to make sure that one will be available when needed.

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Relativity and the Global Positioning System

Thu, 05/02/2002 - 02:00 -- Hal Harris

An ideal companion to "The Universe in a Nutshell" is this article by Neil Ashby, a Professor of Physics at University of Colorado - Boulder. Hand- held GPS devices have become standard equipment for boaters, hikers, and technology junkies. It is now taken for granted that one's position on the earth can be obtained within a few seconds, accurately, and free.

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The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology

Mon, 04/01/2002 - 00:00 -- Hal Harris

If the name "Simon Winchester" sounds familiar, it is probably because of his recent bestseller, "The Professor and the Madman", the history of how the Oxford English Dictionary was originally compiled. It is supposed to be very good, but I haven't had a chance to read it myself yet.

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Backyard Ballistics: Build Potato Cannons, Paper Match Rockets, Cincinnati Fire Kites, Tennis Ball Mortars, and More Dynamite Devices

Sat, 03/02/2002 - 01:00 -- Hal Harris

This book is not politically correct, in an era in which school science experiments have been tamed to the point that there is little possibility that the teacher will kill or maim him/herself.

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Vacuum Bazookas, Electric Rainbow Jelly, and 27 Other Saturday Science Projects

Fri, 03/01/2002 - 00:00 -- Hal Harris

Those of us who were fans of the old "Amateur Scientist" column of Scientific American will enjoy this collection of projects that look to be fun to build and to play with. These are all things that the author has invented or adapted for a Saturday Science Club for kids near his home in Guildford, UK.

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Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters

Fri, 02/01/2002 - 00:00 -- Hal Harris

I first wrote about the controversial thesis of this book back in January of 2000, when my "Pick" was an article about David Hockney by Lawrence Wechler in the New Yorker. With the publication of this very attractive, large-format book, you can look for yourself at the evidence that he argues shows that many of the great master painters secretly used optical devices to help produce their work.