Thinking on the page

“Thinking on the page” is a handle that I’ve found useful in improving my writing and introspection more generally. When I write, for the most part, I’m trying to put something that I already feel is true into words. But when I think on the page, the words are getting ahead of my internal sense […]

Link: Trial By Mathematics

Since it’s been a while, I’ll reaffirm my pre-hiatus policy on linkposts: I’d like to use your attention responsibly. To that end, I want to avoid spraying links to whatever’s recently hijacked my brain. When I share a link, I’ll do my best to make it a classic: a text I’ve had time to consider and […]

Unfair outcomes from fair tests

[Status: I’m sure this is well known, so I’d appreciate pointers to explanations by people who are less likely to make statistical or terminological errors. I sometimes worry I do too much background reading before thinking aloud about something, so I’m experimenting with switching it up. A quick search turns up a number of papers rediscovering something like […]

The Hedgehog and the Fox, GMU economist edition

Tyler Cowen on Robin Hanson: Robin is very fond on powerful theories which invoke a very small number of basic elements and give those elements great force.  He likes to focus on one very central mechanism in seeking an explanation or developing policy advice.  Modern physics and Darwin hold too strong a sway in his […]

Follow-up on molecular electronics

Exercise #5 discussed a 1983 paper by Forrest Carter on proposed fabrication techniques for “molecular electronics”—electronic devices made from molecular building blocks, which held or hold promise for extending Moore’s Law beyond the limits of silicon. One question was “How many of these methods do you think are in use today, almost 35 years later?” I don’t want to imply […]

Hiatus on hiatus

Here it is: the post after a years-long hiatus explaining that the author hopes to revive the blog. You’ve seen this before; you know how often it works. For good luck, I made a real post before this one. I had a good first month the first time around, then slowed down and stopped over the […]

Exercise #5: Molecular electronics proposals

[As always, I’m not promising this is a good use of your time, but you might find it stimulating.] Here is a paper from 1983: In anticipation of the continued size reduction of switching elements to the molecular level, new approaches to materials, memory, and switching elements have been developed. Two of the three most […]

New “Beside Discovery” additions

I recently added a few items to my “messy micro-histories of science” section here, reproduced below: Anthropologist Hugh Gusterson wrote “A Pedagogy of Diminishing Returns: Scientific Involution across Three Generations of Nuclear Weapons Science” (2005) about the strange sort of inward-turning and withering of nuclear weapons science in the post-testing era. That field (as well as national labs and megaprojects more generally) often […]

Exercise #4

Consider the following experimental results: People who became vegetarians for ethical reasons were found to be more committed to their diet choice and remained vegetarians for longer than those who did so for health reasons. Loyalty to expert advisers (doctors, financial advisors, etc.) leads to higher prices but not necessarily better services. Smokers who viewed […]

Beyond Discovery

Beyond Discovery™: The Path from Research to Human Benefit is a series of articles that trace the origins of important recent technological and medical advances. Each story reveals the crucial role played by basic science, the applications of which could not have been anticipated at the time the original research was conducted. The National Academy […]