Perseids, Meet Supermoon!

So tonight (meaning the wee hours of Monday morning and the next few mornings, for optimum viewing – more civilised hours might work too, of course) the Perseid meteor shower will be on view! Have a look at this site (picked at random; there are many more) for more about how to view the meteors, in case you’re not sure. Well, here’s an interesting thing. The moon will be at its brightest as well, so that’ll mean that the viewing conditions for meteors will not be ideal, unfortunately. And it really will be extra bright (well, slightly, to be honest) because tonight’s full moon is during the moon’s closest approach to […] Click to continue reading this post


It is the blog’s fifth birthday today, July 27th! I actually started it here in Aspen (if I remember correctly – I certainly remember painting and photographing the logo here) on this date in 2006, with my first post here. It has been very enjoyable writing all these years, sharing thoughts and ramblings, and it is still great to learn of the variety of people who are reading, and of the core of people who’ve stayed with the blog through rain and shine.

As in previous anniversary posts (see here, here and here – I was neglectful last year), I put together a little celebratory drawing of sorts*. This time […] Click to continue reading this post


Dear Readers following Asymptotia on Twitter. You’ll have noticed that there have not been any twitter updates since January. I’ve only just noticed that the settings in Twitter Tools were not set right since the last update, and so you may have missed out on two months of juicy blog material. I’m very sorry.

I’ve updated a few posts from the last few weeks to start up the twittering again. Be sure to come to the blog and read up on what you missed. People seem to have been enjoying the Walkabout series, for example. Start reading that post, and if you scroll to the bottom of it, after the comments you’ll see pingbacks from later posts that cited it. So you can read those too… and so on.


-cvj Click to continue reading this post

The Write Stuff

A little while ago, this season’s edition of the USC College magazine came out, and it is available online. Notably, it is featuring writers and writing, and there are several pieces in there about both faculty and students and their writing, in various forms. There are articles about superstars such as TC Boyle and Aimee Bender, as well as pieces by excellent writers such as California Poet Laureate Carol Muske-Dukes, and M. G. Lord. I recommend having a read of it.

It is with a mixture of mild amusement and embarrassment that I mention that among all that excellent writerly material is, perhaps oddly, an article on yours truly. It is about this blog, what it is about and for, and why I do it. (The blog is, of course, not to be mistaken for great writing, and so I will apologize personally to Aimee […] Click to continue reading this post

Happy New Year!

(Since it is bowl season…)


It has been rather pleasant here in Los Angeles over the last week or two, since there has been a mixture of rain, cloud, and sunshine that has been very good for all concerned: climate, mood, garden, etc.

Perhaps you’ll have noticed that I’ve been quiet with regards writing here over the holiday period. This is not because I’ve fallen off the planet or anything! I’ve been […] Click to continue reading this post

Twice 50 Science Online Destinations

50_listI got these two items about lists of 50 things within 8 hours of each other. They don’t seem connected, so I think it is a coincidence of some kind. Interesting…

(1) The e-Health news blog has published a list of 50 websites under the heading “Top 50 Free Open Courseware Classes for Aspiring Scientists”. It includes sites with open access course materials.

(2) The site Accredited Colleges Online (.org) has compiled a list they call “50 Best Physics Blogs”. Our* little effort, Asymptotia (which I think of as a blog that happens to be […] Click to continue reading this post

Mailbox Matters, 1

mailbox_imageI realized just now that I spend a lot of time answering questions over email from readers of the blog, friends, readers of articles I’ve written, audiences of events I’ve appeared at, family, people I’ve met on the bus, on the subway, or in a bar, people who’ve seen me on one TV show or another, dates, former dates, colleagues, people I’m consulting for on a TV show or a movie, people in prison, artist or writer friends trying to get insight in to a scientist’s view of a particular issue or idea… and so on and so forth.

I usually send off an email response that reflects what I’m thinking at the time, that may be long or short and that may or may not be my definitive answer on some matter or other, but is at least a response that may be helpful to the person who wrote in.

I think that it might be worth occasionally posting the questions and answers here. Sometimes my answers (or the questions) are longer and maybe more interesting […] Click to continue reading this post

Testing, Testing

Fascinating. I am testing out a new method of posting to the blog. I replaced my ancient and frustrating ipod (I think enough time has been spent tinkering around in its innards (see e.g. here) and now I realize the hard drive itself is now damaged) and my old Palm Tungsten by one new device, an iPod Touch. It seems to work well, and is my compromise to the iPhone mania – I find the fact that you are forced by AT&T into an expensive data contract for the iPhone a bit objectionable, and I certainly don’t want to pay that much to be connected all the time, and moreover have no wish to be connected all the time, and my current phone is a really good phone that does more of what I want than the iPhone does (my phone has a radio for example – it is free and works whether you have a connection to the web or not – good old-fashioned FM) and I am not really one for getting new devices just for newness’ sake. (I’ve realized to my delight that this solution also means that I get to continue saying that I’m the last person in LA without an iPhone. 🙂 )

Since I needed to replace the other things and since the Touch does have Bluetooth and wireless, this seemed like a good move. I can reliably listen to music again, and It will help with productivity too, I can do some communication on the move […] Click to continue reading this post

Facing Up To Social Media

Ok. So here’s a little experiment. I’ve noticed (perhaps you have too) that everyone seems even busier than they did a couple of years ago, and furthermore, that facebook, twitter, and other such social networking sites have fragmented and otherwise mopped up some of the conversation that used to take place a lot on blogs. You might say that there’s nothing wrong with that since the conversations are still happening somewhere, but the problem with that is the fact that if parts of the conversation disappears behind the horizon of people’s facebook accounts (so that only their friends can see it) it takes away from a lot of what I think is the best spirit of an open blog – (1) anyone can join in, (2) the conversation is there on the web to be searched for and used as a resource later, and so on and so forth. Besides, in my opinion there’s a lot of fun chatter on facebook, etc, but it is mostly the exchange of (sometimes playful) short remarks about a status update or a picture of something. Conversations can be more than that, but I’ve found little of that there. (Of course, as we know, conversation can rapidly deteriorate on blogs as well, for a variety of reasons. As you know I’ve tried to steer clear of the shouty stuff here for that reason.)

Anyway, I’m not expecting a huge change as a result of this, but in an effort to try to connect thoughts expressed here to conversations inside facebook, I’m trying out […] Click to continue reading this post

Some Changes, and Connecting with Facebook

Well, I’ve upgraded my Wordpress installation and since some plugins might be not quite working with the newest version, things are going to look slightly different for a bit. But not hugely so.

Oh, if you are on facebook, you might like to know that I have put Asymptotia on the NetworkedBlogs application so that you can sign up and get a feed directly within facebook. Click through to here if signed in. Please note the difference between me, my facebook page, my blog Asymptotia, and Asymptotia’s space on facebook. All four are different. I’m just sayin’. Don’t forget to keep visiting here, for example.

Strangely, as a result of upgrading a few things, something weird happened that I […] Click to continue reading this post