A Compass for the Future

Michigan State University (MSU) is making national and international news. And it’s not for its prowess on athletic fields or courts. In fact, as I’m sure everyone reading this is aware, it is for the tragedy of sexual abuse that went on for years without being stopped. The president is gone, the gymnastics coach is …

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A Transformative Moment

While I have been retired from Michigan State University for three years, I spent 30 years of my life walking the campus, teaching classes, helping students and faculty uncover information they sought, active in faculty governance and founding and directing sustainability operations. It is no small part of my life. So it is not without …

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A Shiny interactive web application to quantify how robust inferences are to potential sources of bias (sensitivity analysis)

We are happy to announce the release of an interactive web application, Konfound-It, to make it easy to quantify the conditions necessary to change an inference. For example, Konfound-It generates statements such as “XX% of the estimate would have to be due to bias to invalidate the inference” or “an omitted variable would have to …

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Outcomes from a self-generated utility value intervention in science (in IJER)

The Scientific Practices project, was focused on engaging middle school students in scientific and engineering practices (such as developing and using models, constructing explanations of phenomena, and analyzing and interpreting data). As part of this longitudinal project, we carried out field experiments to understand the impact of specific features of the curriculum. In this paper published …

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Beware the Jabberwocks

Lessons from the Dragon Boat None of us knew quite what to expect on Saturday as we gathered at Hawk Island for our one-hour training session for the Capital City Dragon Boat Race to support the Women’s Resource Center of Greater Lansing. Earlier this year, my wife, Val, suggested that the MSU College of Arts & …

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Step Acuity

Please help me with a little science experiment. Measure your Step Acuity (SA) and report it here. Your SA is the number of steps before you hit a mark that you know whether you will hit the mark with your right or left foot. As you are walking down the street, choose a mark (a …

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Heroes

Heroes play a crucial role by showing us what we, individually and collectively, can accomplish and demonstrating that we can do great things despite long odds. Heroes play a crucial role by showing us what we, individually and collectively, can accomplish and demonstrating that we can do great things despite long odds. For many Americans …

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Varieties of Time Travel

My kids have been reading lots of books over the break, including an adventure series that involves time travel. Knowing vaguely that dad is a theoretical physicist, they asked me how time travel works. 1. Can one change history by influencing past events? OR 2. Is there only one timeline that cannot be altered, even …

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Time and Memory

Over the holiday I started digging through my mom’s old albums and boxes of photos. I found some pictures I didn’t know existed! Richard Feynman and the 19 year old me at my Caltech graduation: With my mom that morning — hung-over, but very happy! I think those are some crazy old school Ray Bans …

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2016 (on two wheels)

2016 (on two wheels) was a good year with some challenging points too. Here were some rides silly, challenging, and otherwise memorable: This was one of the most strange rides ever. Katie and I decided to head to St. John’s. It doesn’t look too far (from where we are in Lansing), and it’s not, but …

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Matt Townsend Show (Sirius XM)

I was on this show last week. Click the link for audio. We Are Nowhere Close to the Limits of Athletic Performance (16:46) Dr. Stephen Hsu is the vice president for research and a professor of theoretical physics at Michigan State University. His interest range from theoretical physics and cosmology to computer science and biology. …

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Time to Break Silence

  Well I haven’t exactly been silent in recent years, but I think the circumstances we are in call for being unafraid to stand up to forces that are dragging us toward our collective demise, but also to offer alternatives that redirect us towards a more just and peaceful future. It will be 50 years …

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Privilege

At my 60th birthday party this summer, I made a few remarks about how fortunate I have been in my life: Born to parents who nurtured me. Born into a nation that values life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Born at a time and in a part of the world where science and public health greatly …

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Privilege

At my 60th birthday party this summer, I made a few remarks about how fortunate I have been in my life: Born to parents who nurtured me. Born into a nation that values life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Born at a time and in a part of the world where science and public health greatly …

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Eating Figs from the Deroga Tree

Coming to you from Central Michigan, the latest flash news from the food movement. This week in an unprecedented turn of events a contingent of seventeen celebrity chefs led by Ettore Boiardi picketed the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia where Senator Elizabeth Warren and former Cream drummer Ginger Baker were conducting a taste-test of four …

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Joe Rogan interviews Dan Bilzerian

This is one of the best interviews I’ve heard in a long time. Warning: NSFW. Joe Rogan interviews professional poker player and social media icon Dan Bilzerian. If you don’t know who he is, check him out on Instagram (guns, girls, private jets, high stakes poker = 20 million followers = NSFW). Among the topics covered: …

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Japanese Rain Goggles

So I was lunching with Usher last week at some chic little bistro in a trendy Toronto neighborhood. I don’t recall the name, and doesn’t matter much anyway. As a matter of fact, maybe it wasn’t even Toronto. Maybe it was Brooklyn or Burlington. I can’t fully recall. We had settled in and were sipping our …

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Food Dreams

I think that food dreams might be the next big growth area for cognitive food studies. Both regular readers of the Thornapple Blog are now expecting me to launch into a tedious discussion of exactly what “cognitive food studies” could possibly mean, and I hate to disappoint them. The growing number of academic types who …

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Nuts

How many blog readers remember Euell Gibbons? I thought so. If you Google his name, he is apparently best remembered as pitch man for Post Grape Nuts™. I was interested in his appearances on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. How many blog readers remember Johnny Carson? Well, that’s a tangent I won’t touch. Let’s …

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Gumbo

Way back in the Jurassic Era we started these blogs about food songs because Doug Anderson had complained about not being able to think up enough of them. Here in the Anthropocene Doug has lots of help because I think if he just types ‘food’ and ‘song lyrics’ into the Google, he will turn up …

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Another Burrito

It seems that country music is a particularly rich source of food songs. The title of this week’s blog is a quote from Gary P. Nunn’s “What I Like about Texas.” I should have used this as the title two weeks ago. A fair portion of the food songs we’ve done over the years come …

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Twitter as a Platform of Collaboration

Whenever I talk to faculty and students about the use of social media in the academy, I advocate for a community building approach. The idea is relatively simple: communication has the power to enrich or impoverish our relationships with one another; we should resist impoverishing and cultivate enriching practices of social media communications. However simple the …

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Another Year for Food Songs

Long time readers of the blog know that September and January are thematic months. Ever since 2011, we’ve dedicated Januarys to “food ethics icons” and we’ve done something special with September, too. Last year we took off from a theme that we had followed for the preceding three years to celebrate a series of “food …

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