Blogs of a feather

The baker’s dozen links on my blogroll provide, in my opinion, a good snapshot of the physics blogging landscape where these musings live. I bet you already knew most of them before stumbling upon this site. You know the drill. Most of us have university degrees, discuss fundamental physics with an eye to laymen, are passionate about science, take sides in the never-ending Peter vs. Lubos debate, link regularly to each other and so on and so forth. There’s of course ample room for variance and everyone has her pet areas, strengths and weaknesses, but i think there’s an underlying spirit that encompasses us all.

After all, it is probably because of that common spirit that we like them. I for one would have a (relatively) hard time singling out just one or two blogs from this, so to speak, mainstream physics blogsphere. But, opening the scope a bit, there are a few blogs over there that i find, in some way or another, different.

My first two blogs of a feather are, for sure, hardly a discovery. The absolutely delicious musings of Jennifer Ouellette’s Cocktail Party Physics need no presentation; i’m hooked to her witty and informative posts, and enjoy Jennifer’s writing skills and sense of humour. She is also a good example of someone seeing us from outside, in a very refreshing way. Almost in a draw comes John Horgan (who thinks that science is ending, with a twist) and his Scientific Curmudgeon: his sharp-edged skepticism is always a good antidote against the flights of fancy so common in theoretical physics, or any other scientific branch, for that matter.

John’s readers will probably know about Jim Weatherall‘s blog, which has what’s easily the most original title i’ve ever heard: Wanderings of the Errant Digeratus. Jim wrote a quite interesting thesis (PDF) on the philosophical aspects of effective field theories and their interpretation, but his “interests are a little difficult to describe, but they all (both analytic and creative) revolve around complimentary ways to understand and criticize the scientific world-view and its ramifications”. That shows in his blog, which is very eclectic: philosophy, computers, art, physics… Although he’s not as prolific as one would like and science posts are a bit scarce, i usually enjoy his writings, which give yet another outsider’s view of the world of science, this time that of a philosopher. As an example, Jim’s take on emergence in physics (and live) is the most beautiful essay i’ve read in the last two months. Oh, and the Wanderings also get the prize to the nicest web design.

The list goes on, but let me close (for now) with the last addition to my newsreader collection, also coming from a philosopher and with a funny name too. According to its author, Stop That Crow is “an attempt to totally ground and understand design, purpose and values in a completely naturalistic worldview”. In his endeavour, Jeff touches many areas in an entertaining, very well thought of way, including a series of essays in the epistemology of science which will make as a nice introduction to the subject. As you will see, Jeff is a quite prolific author and so a good option to fill these slow august days. If you haven’t read Dennet’s Freedom evolves and are curious about the funny name, its rationale is detailed here.

These are some of my blogs of a feather: what are yours?


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