Tag Harvard

How not to do your physics homework


Foucault’s pendulum has fallen. On April 6, the steel cable snapped and sent it crashing onto the polished floor of the Musée des Artes et Metiers in Paris. The 28 kilogram brass weight ended its 159-year career—the dented bob is, a museum spokesperson affirmed, beyond repair—doing what it was meant to do: obeying the law of gravity. I have to admit I shed a tear (or at least the idea of a tear) for the fallen bit of scientific history, not because I’d visited the pendulum myself, or even read the 1988 Umberto Eco novel which takes its title and climax from the now-not-swinging orb. I have my own tangled history with pendulums—one stretching back, depending how you count it, decades, even centuries. It’s quite a bit of weight to bear, but a tale worth telling.

Grace between the cushions:A love letter to my college couch

During my last two years of college, I lived with two roommates, and
we furnished our rooms pretty much exclusively with things we found in
the trash. We were none of us poor, but we were all quite cheap, and
for two years running the luck of the draw had placed us in our
dormitory’s “garbage entryway,” a dingy, be-dumpstered archway where
the garbage and castoffs of our entire 800-resident undergraduate house
was left pending weekly pickup.