The time I gave Michio Kaku’s public presentation (and had him draw a giraffe)

Giraffes Drawn By People Who Should Not Be Drawing Giraffes

For those who do not know, Michio Kaku (website; twitter) is a theoretical physicist at City University of New York and co-founder of string field theory. Just as importantly – and this is the context in which I first discovered him – he is a popularizer of science in the stead of the late Carl Sagan. Essentially he is one of only a handful of scientists taking the initiative to condense great scientific ideas into an easily digestible form. In a world that unfortunately casts a paranoid eye to the sciences, this is a virtue; through his books Physics of the Impossible (2008) and Physics of the Future (2011) Kaku reminds us all that science is, frankly, cool.[1]

So it was under this pretense that I made my way to the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus to attend a lecture and book signing by…

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Minnesota on the Death of Darwin: “If one such man arises in a century, that century is fortunate.”

There's a certain charm about small-town newspapers. In the case of those early publications - long before radio, television, the Internet - this was where a community got its news, entertainment, and gossip. This was Facebook. As an archival historian, let me tell you: there's always something waiting to be discovered. So, after realizing that April 18 marked the anniversary of Charles Darwin's death, I thought I'd do a quick search to see how Minnesotans responded. But, first, I'd like to share something published three months earlier, on January 18, 1882. Now, for those unfamiliar with the evolution-creationism debate, the Nye-Ham debacle was their first exposure to the creationist movement. Far from being a contemporary phenomenon, though, that kind of nonsense proliferated before the ink on The Origin of Species was dry. Fortunately, then as now, there was always someone available to mock the church - before there was PZ Myers there was the small-town editor doing newspaper-vaudeville. In the New Ulm Weekly Review, for example, was published the text of a "sermon" by the fictional Reverence Plato Johnson.