Tag: favorite quotes

Blog Posts (22)

September 8, 2014

Power of Analogy

From time to time in this blog, I take a moment to celebrate fine writing. Here is an example I came across in an article in Smithsonian magazine from May 2014. The author, Corey Powell , was trying to explain how astronomers … Continue reading
September 3, 2014

Something I Have in Common with Beethoven

Friends and family are painfully aware of how obsessed I have become with Beethoven lately. My plan is to have 10 of his piano sonatas in my brain and fingertips at any one time, ready to play by memory on … Continue reading
August 29, 2014

Influencing Young Minds

I really like teaching Duke undergraduates. They are an ambitious and intelligent group. But sometimes their ambition and intelligence get in the way of creative thinking, especially in regards to careers. They all want to remain high achievers, so they … Continue reading
August 27, 2014

Emotional Adaptation and Desire

I’ve done a fair amount of research on how people emotionally adapt to life circumstances. My research is mainly in the context of illness and disability, where people bounce back from adversity more than expected. But people can also emotionally … Continue reading
August 22, 2014

Sagan the Quipster

In 1996, a man wrote to Carl Sagan asking him the distance to heaven. Sagan was a very public agnostic. He replied brilliantly: “Thanks for your letter. Nothing like the Christian notion of heaven has been found out to about … Continue reading
August 21, 2014

Science Writing Prodigy

I’ve been teaching college for four years now, at a pretty darn good college. But I’m not sure I’ve seen student writing quite as good as this undergraduate writing sample: There is a wide yawning black infinity. In every direction … Continue reading
June 25, 2014

The Power of Comparison

In a wonderful article on deep cave exploration, Burkhard Bilger shows how powerful comparison can be in putting an unfamiliar topic into context. He is describing the arduous work involved in deep cave exploration. He is describing the risks of … Continue reading
June 24, 2014

How Bankers Use Other People’s Money

I came across an interesting quote in the New Yorker recently, reflecting on the US banking system. It reads: The power and the growth of power of our financial oligarchs comes from wielding the savings and credit capital of others. The … Continue reading
June 23, 2014

Provocative Words on Robots

Oscar Wilde is one of the most quotable people in history of the English language. He even had ideas about robots, many decades before people had any idea what robots could achieve. And in typical Wildean fashion, he provocatively tied … Continue reading
June 20, 2014

A Cool View of Music

Leibniz once described music as an “occult exercise in mathematics performed by a mind unconscious of the fact that it is counting.” As someone currently working through some late Beethoven piano masterpieces, this description makes a lot of sense to … Continue reading

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