- Slashdot recently discussed free, open source software for experimental physics.
- A pretty breezy piece in the NYT about the physics of tackling (in American football).
- Cocktail Party Physics is literally discussing physics, or rather astrology, at parties, or rather social gatherings. This reminded me of a dinner party from last month. We were talking about what to tell children when they directly ask if God/Santa/ToothFairy/etc exist. I said I tell them I don't believe in God, but I avoid answering the other questions (mostly because I don't want them "spoiling it" for other kids). Anyway, so a friend asked if I was an atheist or an agnostic. Knowing she's somewhat spiritual and not wanting to offend, I gave a response I thought fairly polite (as well as accurate):
I'm an atheist because I don't think God exists.
But this person persisted, questioning my use of the word "think." So I continued:
Well, I don't know that God doesn't exist, but similarly, I don't know that you exist. However, I live my life accepting in pragmatic terms that others probably exist since it's easier than not and there is evidence for your existence (although not conclusive). However, there's no evidence of God's existence, so to the extent that you want to consider me agnostic, I'd have to say I'm just as agnostic regarding the existence of ferries, ghosts, etc.
- This discussion reminds me of something I read on Facebook recently. This woman from high school I barely know was posting a combination of religious and political stuff. Mostly just enough to merit a smile, like how she joined a group celebrating Sean Hannity. Or a status update about how dare Obama disrespect Bush in his inaugural speech. But then she posted the oft-told parable about a religious Marine knocking out a liberal professor (among many hits on Google, you can read the story at this blog). I'm amazed at the behavior of some people who make themselves out to be very moral and God-fearing. It probably didn't occur to her that she was advocating for violence against anyone. In any case, I avoided commenting, but took the preventative measure (to forestall her getting me upset) of "de-friending" her. Apparently, the de-listed friend isn't notified, which has its advantages and disadvantages.