A few interesting items today on a couple of other blogs I sometimes read.
- Mark Liberman of Language Log writes a post that highlights the importance of the serial comma, which in my view is never optional.
- Cosmic Variance's Sean Carroll explains the newly-published results of the WMAP survey of the cosmic background radiation. Some of the details required me to think back to the cosmology course I took in college and might be a bit esoteric if your physics isn't up to snuff, but the post is interesting nevertheless. As a former metrologist, I particularly enjoyed this observation, highlighting the importance of making precise measurements where scientists generally agree on what the answer will be:
The reason why verifying a successful model is such a big deal is that the model itself - LambdaCDM with inflationary perturbations - is such an incredible extrapolation from everyday experience into the far reaches of space and time. When we're talking about inflation, we're dealing with the first 10-35 seconds in the history of the universe. When we speak about dark matter and dark energy, we're dealing with substances that are completely outside the very successful Standard Model of particle physics. These are dramatic ideas that need to be tested over and over again, and we're going to keep looking for chinks in their armor until we're satisfied beyond any reasonable doubt that we're on the right track.