Category Archives: Uncategorized

Doubling Down

Angela Saini has an interesting review in Nature of Skin Deep, a ridiculous book about how racial differences have no role in sports achievement. Of course, that’s just nonsense, obviously so: some Kenyan and Ethiopian populations are way better at … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 124 Comments

Mars Direct

Trump was baiting Nasa’s head, asking why we couldn’t go directly to Mars instead of puttering around on the Moon first, bringing in Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin on the subject. Trump’s right: assuming that you want to send a … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 71 Comments

The Reason Why

There are odd things about the orbits of trans-Neptunian objects that suggest ( to some) that there might be an undiscovered super-Earth-sized planetĀ  a few hundred AU from the Sun.. We haven’t seen it, but then it would be very … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 25 Comments

Lifting degeneracy

Some time ago I discussed the idea that Neanderthals were fucked-up because their low effective population size led to inefficient purifying selection. But the usual harmonic-mean effective population size is not quite right: for salvage mutations, things that somewhat correct … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 43 Comments

Luke Blackburn

appears to have done something downright interesting: send vomit-soaked clothes, from people that had died of yellow fever, to various locations in the North during the Civil War, with the intent of triggering yellow fever epidemics. Didn’t work, since as … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 46 Comments

“They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.”

Allen Guelzo wrote a book about the battle of Gettysburg “Gettysburg: The Last Invasion” , in which he says some confused things about smoothbores and rifles. One of my regular readers noticed and mentioned this some time ago. “Rifling bestowed … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 59 Comments

Reverse salients

Edison thought in terms of reverse salients and critical problems. “Reverse salients are areas of research and development that are lagging in some obvious way behind the general line of advance. Critical problems are the research questions, cast in terms … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 104 Comments