From Hilbert Space to Dilbert Space


Burning Libraries
Guinness Dark Side
gmcdavid

A Saucy Roman History Book

We have Commodus killing animals (classical serial killer behaviour), and then getting himself strangled by a wrestler in a bath. We have Caracalla who allegedly enjoyed incest with his mother and certainly had his brother killed at a meeting arranged by this quondam lover: worst of all he wore a hood and a blonde wig and he gave Maximus several jobs. Macrinus got Caracalla's mother to starve herself to death and then got himself killed in a temple. Then, best of all, what fun Suetonius would have had, there was Elagabalus ,,,, more Eurovision performer than Roman emperor. He divorced five women in his short life, married two men, worshipped a meteorite and used to hold competitions to see who could pimp themselves for the most money in the Imperial palace. He naturally took part.

The Books Everyone Starts and No One Finishes,...
Guinness Dark Side
gmcdavid

...according to Amazon

And the winner is...

Read more...Collapse )

"Winter is Coming"
hourglass nebula, eye
gmcdavid

Notes from A Song of Fire and Ice and SCIENCE: A panel on George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones series. Saturday, July 5, 2014, at Convergence 2014.

One of the distinctive features of this world is that the seasons last for multiple years, and the length of each season is unpredicable. How can this happen? Not by axial tilt, as on our Earth. Nicole Gugliucci said it could be achieved by planetary dynamics and referred us to "Winter is coming". This paper (and I strongly recommend a look at the full paper as well as the abstract) suggests that the planet is orbiting a double star, in which case the orbit could be chaotic, leading to unpredictable seasons. Apparently (I have not finished reading the series) GRRM never explicity wrote that there was only one sun. In any case, one of the stars could be a roughly solar mass black hole, and hence invisible. Contrary to popular culture, black holes do not suck up everything around them. If you are in an orbit that stays well outside the event horizon you will never fall in. I asked about the long term stability of such a system. You want to be sure your planet stays in the "Goldilocks zone" — not too hot and not too cold. From "Winter is coming":

To study the long-term stability of the CBP, we embarked on a long voyage of integration. The orbit was stable after integrating for one million days. On Day 1,000,001 the Andals invaded. Funding cuts to all research projects promptly followed. We were unable to continue our work. Those of us who expressed strong opinions against the cuts were sent to the Wall.

You have to use days as your unit of time here because the years would vary in length. In winter they would be longer. I think these would also have to be sidereal days, certainly if both stars of the binary system are visible suns.


Clicking Their Way to Outrage
Titanic
gmcdavid

On Social Media, Some Are Susceptible to Internet Outrage

...anger is the emotion that spreads the most easily over social media. Joy came in a distant second. The main difference, said Ryan Martin, a psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, who studies anger, is that although we tend to share the happiness only of people we are close to, we are willing to join in the rage of strangers. As the study suggests, outrage is lavishly rewarded on social media, whether through supportive comments, retweets or Facebook likes. People prone to Internet outrage are looking for validation, Professor Martin said. “They want to hear that others share it,” he said, “because they feel they’re vindicated and a little less lonely and isolated in their belief.”
Ultimately, Internet outrage is the milquetoast cousin to direct action, a way to protest by tapping and clicking rather than boycotting and marching. It is a noble endeavor to become incensed about a cause and risk arrest or toil without acclamation for one’s deeply held beliefs. Less honorable is joining a digital pile-on as a means of propping up one’s ego, even if it comes in the form of entertaining zings.

Convergence 2014 - General Notes
Windycon09
gmcdavid

I did not preregister for Convergence this year, but did so at the door ($$), and am glad I did.Read more...Collapse )


Supreme Court rules ....
Guinness Dark Side
gmcdavid
... JCPenney Allowed to Sacrifice Employees to Appease Cthulhu

No author named, but clearly someone well acquainted with Lovecraft's work.

From BoingBoing

Monday Night Irish Class, June 30, 2014
Irish
gmcdavid

Rang Gaeilge, 30ú lá Mí na Mheiteam 2014

Léigh tuilleadhCollapse )

Mathematics from Eastern Europe
math, Euler
gmcdavid
Reflections of the Polish Masters.

This reminded me of Ulam's Adventures of a Mathematician, which I have read at least three times.

Changing Times
hourglass nebula, eye
gmcdavid

Neil DeGrasse Tyson: US need not lose its edge in science ... but if things continue as they have been the last couple decades, it will. This seems quite similar to the talk that Mia McDavid, Rachel Hadley and I heard him give in May

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Avoiding “Sagan Syndrome.”
hourglass nebula, eye
gmcdavid
Nathan Taylor, Why Astronomers and Journalists should pay heed to Biologists about ET.

Years ago I wrote something that mentioned similar issues: Extraterrestrial Intelligence: A skeptical view. This was long before the Kepler space probe. However, Taylor seems to be saying the fundamentals of the issue have not changed.

As Taylor points out, there is an ad hominem issue here. Frank Tipler, who was a forceful advocate of the no-ETs view in the early and mid 1980s, subsequently became a "crackpot" (Taylor's word, but I agree completely). However, this does not invalidate Tipler's earlier work.

Taylor also points out that for practical (creating life) purposes, the universe is still very young. Star formation will continue for a long time, a necessary condition for life. ETs may yet turn up, but you will need to be very patient.

Coming soon to Lake Shore Drive
Guinness Dark Side
gmcdavid
Chicago wins George Lucas museum

One of the attractions of the Chicago site was the proximity to the "Museum Campus" of the Field Museum of Natural History, the Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium. Looks like an example of the Matthew effect.

From Slashdot.

The Rebel Rani
Windycon09
gmcdavid
Jezebel or Joan of Arc?

As with much of what I know about the 19th British Empire, I first learned about Lakshmi Bai from George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman stories, in this case Flashman in the Great Game.
Tags:

Hotter still
Earth on fire, environment
gmcdavid
Earth has warmest May on record, may signal warmest year in pipeline.

The NOAA analysis for May agrees with those of NASA and the Japanese Meteorological Agency, which I referred to here.

How the NRA and pro-gun Americans abuse Australian crime stats
nobs
gmcdavid
Faking waves, by way of AstroKatie

Conclusion:

So what is the reality? Homicide and suicide rates have declined in Australia since the 1990s. Deaths results from firearms have plunged even more dramatically. In Australia, mass shootings similar to Port Arthur,
Hoddle Street and Strathfield have not occurred for over a decade.

Is this the result of the gun laws introduced by the Howard government? While some (particularly gun advocates) dispute their impact, several studies conclude the laws have made a difference .

Claims that Australian gun laws have increased crime are pure spin and deception. They say more about American partisan politics than about the reality in Australia.

Making good decisions in a hurry
Windycon09
gmcdavid

Sometimes, particularly on television, decision making is presented as a choice between careful analysis and "going with the gut." On television, of course, the gut always wins. However, in the real world this is a false dichotomy. We often, particularly in a crisis, do neither. Instead we use "heuristics."

Heuristics enable us to make fast, highly (but not perfectly) accurate, decisions without taking too much time and searching for information. Heuristics allow us to focus on only a few pieces of information and ignore the rest.

See Miracles Happen — The Simple Heuristic That Saved 150 Lives

“Experts ... often search for less information than novices do.”

Hotter and hotter
Earth on fire, environment
gmcdavid
Earth Just Tied for Its Warmest April on Record, NOAA Says

Earth Has Its Warmest May on Record Globally, Spring Could Be Warmest



May 2014 Was the Hottest May in Recorded History

Those stories about a slowdown or "pause" in global warming? Just statistical noise, or a #FauxPause.

Monday Night Irish Class, June 16, 2014
Irish
gmcdavid

Rang Gaeilge, 16ú lá Mí na Mheiteam 2014

Léigh tuilleadhCollapse )

Why psychology is harder than physics
Guinness Dark Side
gmcdavid
[Varying a lot of experimental parameters is] much easier to do in physics than psychology– physics apparatus is complicated and expensive, but once you have it, atoms are cheap and you can run your experiment over and over and over again. Human subjects, on the other hand, are a giant pain in the ass– not only do you need to do paperwork to get permission to work with them, but they’re hard to find, and many of them expect to be compensated for their time. And it’s hard to get them to come in to the lab at four in the morning so you can keep your experiment running around the clock.

From On Black Magic in Physics


The Internet and how Science is done
Windycon09
gmcdavid
Let the light shine in

When researchers make all their data available on the Internet, anybody can look at it and confirm the results ... or not. This is a good thing. Just as well, since the Genie is out of the bottle now.

A similar thing has happened in economics.Read more...Collapse )

Minoan and Mycenaean, Matriarchy and Patriarchy
minicon ddb
gmcdavid
Ariadne

History is much too messy for simplistic interpretations.