Think Amazon’s Drone Delivery Idea Is a Gimmick? Think Again
While I can remember paging through its Christmas Wish book as a kid, I’m a bit too young to remember the heyday of the Sears and Roebuck catalog. I am old enough to have experienced the growth of Walmart from a regional player to a multinational corporation and to have seen the rise and fall of a few other department stores in my day (Bradlees, Caldor). That said, nobody but nobody beats Amazon when it comes to inventing ideas to find and serve customers. The great tech writer Farhad Manjoo updates us on Amazon’s progress in cornering all aspects of online retail including the possibility of self-driving warehouse trucks roaming our neighborhoods and deploying drones capable of delivering items in minutes.

Must Science Be Testable?
Philosopher Massimo Pigliucci offers a state of the union of sorts regarding the status of Karl Popper’s influential concept of falsifiability in discerning science from non-science. At its most simplistic level, falsifiability sets science apart from non-science by saying that the former is capable of being testing and disproven while the latter is always “moving the goal posts”, especially in the face of damning evidence. More specifically, Professor Pigliucci offers a detailed explanation of falsifiability in the context of modern physics and string theory.

The Vital Question
As a chemist, I’m very familiar with the various theories that allow us to understand molecule structure and predict reactivity. What I don’t understand, when it comes to matters of structure and function, is why biological cells look the way they do. I freely admit that my knowledge of cellular biology is not what is could/should be so I am hoping that the book The Vital Question will help change some of that. I’m only about a third of the way through the book now, but it is promising to put forth a (speculative) answer to why cells look and function the way that they do. Bring on the thermodynamics!

The West Wing Weekly Podcast
I am an unabashed fan of the television show The West Wing. The show ended several years ago but that doesn’t mean I cannot continue enjoying it. This weekly podcast, co-hosted by Joshua Molina (Will Bailey in TWW) and Hrishikesh Hirway (host of the fairly popular Song Exploder podcast), is working its way through each episode of The West Wing. The guys have great chemistry and their podcast has become one of my weekly, non-guilty, pleasures.

 

Weekly thinking tool:  Do you want a cheap, readily available and great pen? The Pentel RSVP RT is what you’re looking for. Fantastic cheap pen.