Edward Willett

Why booze makes us tipsy

Human beings have been using and abusing alcohol for a very long time: roughly 10,000 years, give or take a long weekend.

Be wary of ‘just below’ pricing

I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a MacBook Air (my old Samsung netbook has just about had the life pounded out of it after churning out half a million words or so), and I noticed that the 11-inch MacBook Air is listed on Apple’s Canadian site as starting at $999. Well, at least it’s not $1,000!

Science meets fantasy in steampunk

Rather than a science column this week, I have a science fiction column--because I’m currently in Reno at the 69th World Science Fiction Convention. And it truly is a sight to behold.

The different languages in fiction and non-fiction

It should come as no surprise to anyone reading this column that I write fiction in addition to non-fiction.

Technology close to magic

It’s just possible you haven’t heard yet that the final Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, has just been released, although if that’s the case you’re probably also living on another planet and aren’t reading this at all.

  • Jul 26, 2011

Belly buttons home to thousands of critters

It’s summer, that time of year when belly buttons escape their natural habitat of swimming pools and beaches and wander free in the oddest places, from the library to the shopping mall (although unlike the grins of Cheshire cats, they rarely appear without their owners).

  • Jul 12, 2011

The physics of baseball cheats

Scientists, like people in general, tend to like sports. Maybe that’s why “science of sports” studies pop up, rather like fly balls, at regular intervals: a metaphor that’s particularly apt when the study involves baseball, like the one I’m about to describe.

  • Jul 5, 2011

Using science to predict the next hit song

In my 1999 young adult science fiction novel Andy Nebula: Interstellar Rock Star, I postulated a future in which the hit-making machinery of the music industry has become a science, where computers are able to determine what songs, and what singers, are sure to be the next big thing.

Are you a hypnic jerk?

You may have never heard of a “hypnic jerk,” but the odds are you’ve experienced one.

Exploring the images that sounds produce

As the classic Disney animated film Fantasia opens, a symphony orchestra starts to play, and the music emerging from the instruments becomes visible as blasts of colour and dancing shapes.

Healthy optimism

A few years ago (35 still counts as a few, right?) I was valedictorian for my high school class.

  • May 31, 2011

In politics, nobody is rational

This week, in honour of the Canadian federal election coming up May 2, I’m revisiting a column from a few years ago that seems apropos.

Accidental politicians

Canada is about to enter a federal election campaign, and you know what that means. Platforms, proclamations, partisanship, preening, pretending, pandering and pestering, not to mention politicians on your porch.

Stretching not necessarily good for you

Exercise is good for you. It’s a shame, since I personally find the whole sweating/breathing hard/ hurting thing a (literal) pain.

NASA technology used to restore art

Whenever you visit an art museum that houses really old paintings, you may find yourself underwhelmed by their appearance.

Love that smelly blue cheese

I love blue cheese. It hasn’t always been so. As a child, I was immersed in the done-to-death running gags of the cartoon world, where smelly cheese (always Limburger, for some reason) seemed to be thought of as a sure-fire laugh riot.

Why does the sun make us sneeze?

“Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy,” the late John Denver sang. “Sunlight in my eyes can make me cry.”