Category Archives: Uncategorized

New Guy in Town

These graphs show the results of evolutionary experiments by Richard Lenski, in which a bacterial species ( e coli) has been evolving under constant conditions for many years: tens of thousands of generations. These bacteria were not perfectly adapted to … Continue reading

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New variants

There’s a new variant of cov-19, the UK strain, that is something like 70% more infectious than previous strains. At this point its lethality seems about the same as earlier strains. Virologists, most of them, did not expect this.  I … Continue reading

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Signs, Portents, and Appetizers

Was thinking about various factors that influenced the discovery of America – by which I mean Columbus’s voyage. Not Saint Brendan or Madoc,  not the Phoenicians, not the Romans, not the Solutreans.  Not Basque fishermen.  Not Leif Ericsson or Bjarni … Continue reading

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Books, 2020

You might also be interested in my booklists from 2014, 2016, 2017,  2018, and 2019. The Big Sleep  In the Courts of the Crimson Kings  Memoirs of an Invisible Man The Mote in God’s Eye The Weirdstone of Brisingamen The Brothers Karamazov Life … Continue reading

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Doctor Doctor Give Me the News

Credentials don’t make an incorrect argument right, and the lack of them can’t make a correct argument wrong. The track record tells you more – George Green and Srinivasa Ramanujan ( and Freeman Dyson)  did what they did.  In that … Continue reading

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Coding Error

James Coleman published an influential study in 1966, “Equality of Educational Opportunity”. It found that variation in school quality (per pupil expenditure, size of school library, and so on)  had little influence on  educational achievement, while students’ family backgrounds did.  … Continue reading

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Everyone makes mistakes

Razib Khan dredged up an article that talked about the role of Japanese intelligence and/or the Black Dragon Society in furthering the developing of  black nationalist groups before WWII – one such group eventually developed into the Nation of Islam. … Continue reading

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Learning to Decode

(Stolen from David Kahn’s _The CodeBreakers_.   In the presidential election of 1876, Samuel J. Tilden had a quarter-million majority of the popular vote,. but the outcome of the electoral college vote depended on which of the rival returns from … Continue reading

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Free Parameter

What if this coronavirus were 10 times more deadly? 20 times?  What if it hit all ages equally, or was especially lethal to young adults ( like the 1918 flu)? What if it crippled, like polio? Would people in those … Continue reading

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Too Many Muons

There is a notion that radiation may be  limiting qubit lifetime. Even if you use low-radiation materials and shielding, you still have to worry about muons generated by cosmic rays.  They are very penetrating – some reach kilometers down into … Continue reading

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