Monthly Archives: December 2016

The Secret Histories

I was reading Strategikon (of Maurice, not Kekaumenos), a handbook of military strategy probably authored by the Emperor Maurice. it occurred to me that the practical military knowledge it contained was effectively secret knowledge, not usually available to enemies of … Continue reading

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School’s out

I saw a note by Razib Khan, in which he mentioned that psychometric research suggests that people plateau in their knowledge base as adults. I could believe it. But I’m not sure it’s true in my case. One might estimate … Continue reading

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Goolie Chits

A goolie chit, also known as a blood chit, is a notice addressed to whoever, promising a reward for giving assistance to the bearer, payable when he shows up somewhere safe. For example, in World War I, RAF pilots in … Continue reading

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Yosemite Sam

When you grow up in a particular environment, you tend to think of it as the default, but it ain’t necessarily so. Once you realize it doesn’t have to be, you can end up wondering what really is normal – … Continue reading

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The Coming Thing

In your opinion, what are the most interesting possibilities coming up in science and technology? With an emphasis on things that have practical value. Two categories: Biology and not-biology. Show your work. Be prepared to argue, as always.

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Halsey’s Typhoon

In December 1944, Task Force 38, under Admiral William Halsey, sailed straight into a typhoon in the Philippine Sea. 790 sailors were lost, and many other ships suffered serious damage. Previously, on October 25, Halsey had been decoyed into chasing … Continue reading

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The Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo

All too often we see large, long-lasting research efforts that never produce, never achieve their goal. For example, the amyloid hypothesis [accumulation of amyloid-beta oligomers is the cause of Alzheimers] has been dominant for more than 20 years, and has … Continue reading

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The Idea Factories

Bell Labs was a fount of important inventions, but it was not alone. Other industrial labs did too: IBM Watson, IBM Zurich, IBM Almaden, Xerox Palo Alto, Hughes Malibu ( with parquet flooring and a view of the Pacific, I … Continue reading

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Tibetan mastiff

The Tibetan Mastiff can take high altitude better than generic dogs, or so breedists would like you to think. Some of the genetics changes are similar to those seen in human Tibetans – regulatory changes in EPAS1, for example. Domesticated … Continue reading

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Science Policy

If my 23andme profile revealed that I was the last of the Plantagenets (as some suspect), and therefore rightfully King of the United States and Defender of Mexico, and I asked you for a general view of the right approach … Continue reading

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