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fireballs619's profile

I'm mainly interested in science and politics (specifically how politics affect scientific research in the US). Follow me if you are interested in posts or discussions on physics, math, linguistics, US politics, and other assorted interests.

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1080ish, I forgot as soon as I closed the tab. I'm on and off with activity around here, it usually comes in spurts. The place has changed quite a bit since I joined and I haven't kept up with all the new features and what have you, so I feel even more lost.

Starting college has been nice. It is great to finally be studying something I really enjoy, and all of the new people I have met have been great. I enjoyed high school, but people aren't joking when they say college is so much better.

    If, in some cataclysm, all of scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence passed on to the next generations of creatures, what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words? I believe it is the atomic hypothesis (or the atomic fact, or whatever you wish to call it) that all things are made of atoms—little particles that move around in perpetual motion, attracting each other when they are a little distance apart, but repelling upon being squeezed into one another. In that one sentence, you will see, there is an enormous amount of information about the world, if just a little imagination and thinking are applied.
- Feynman Lectures on Physics, Volume 1

These lectures are fantastic. I just took a course in Mechanics, so now I am going through Feynman's treatment of the subject, and everything seems to make more sense.

By the way, I love these posts. I always end up adding a couple of books to my "To Read" just based on these quotes.

I've seen some very interesting and in depth discussion generated by this article on the web.

Overall I agree with Ellis and Silk - empiricism is vital to the scientific method and progress, and these notions of "post-empiricism" seem, to me at least, to be a dangerous path to go down.

I think what it comes down to is the degree to which we are willing to investigate hypotheses which have not been confirmed. I have not read the criticisms mentioned in the article, such as Smolin's or Woit's books, so I do not know exactly what they are advocating. If they are saying we should completely halt research on string theory and focus our efforts elsewhere, then Dawid's post can be seen as appropriately reactionary. I don't think string theory is without use, even though it has not (and likely will not be) experimentally confirmed, and research should continue. However, if the message in this criticisms is much more modest, then I don't see the use in Dawid's arguments. What do we gain by treating String theory as confirmed that we do not by treating it as unconfirmed? I guess I just don't see the point in Dawid's arguments, unless they are to argue for continued research in String Theory, which is already happening.

An excellent quote that I point to when discussing many endeavors of little apparent worth. So many people seem to think that the only efforts worth undertaking are those that bear useful or immediate fruits. Whatever happened to doing things just because?

Also, Kennedy references the "Because it's there" line in his "We choose to go to the Moon" speech. That is another good one.

As with any fusion announcement, I am skeptical until there is an actual working prototype.

It is exciting, however, to see such a big name behind the announcement this time. It does lend it some credibility.

fireballs619  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: The Green Fields of the Mind

What would you say the best essay in Baseball's history is? I love reading these types of things.

Definitely not too encouraging to be reading as someone going into the sciences. I suppose that it has always been a struggle, though.

Thanks for the link.

I only managed to get about 12 minutes in, however. There was a lot of pseudoscience stuff by that point, and I felt comfortable dismissing it without having to watch the next 45 minutes.

Oh wow, I opened this link having never wanted to buy an island, but now I certainly do.

In any case, I need to get out in nature more.

Uh, what makes you think that?

Eh, the fact is not all lies are created equal. It is far more detrimental to a child'd development to lie to them about history (i.e. Lord of the Rings actually happening) than to let them believe in Santa as a child. It's a cultural tradition, really, especially if you are in America (not sure what Christmas traditions are elsewhere). I don't see any harm from it, and I can't think of a single instance where this lie undermines the adult's authority in the eyes of the child. It certainly didn't for me.

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