In a Multiverse, What Are the Odds? "Testing the multiverse hypothesis requires measuring whether our universe is statistically typical among the infinite variety of universes. But infinity does a number on statistics." (previously) [more inside]
How The Economic Machine Works by Ray Dalio actually makes a case against austerity and for redistribution, but also for money printing (and, arguably, for bailouts), while stressing the need to keep making productivity-improving public and private investments. However, it could be equally entitled: How The Industrial Age Political-Economy Doesn't Work Anymore, viz. Surviving Progress (2011)... [more inside]
Is Psychometric g a Myth? - "As an online discussion about IQ or general intelligence grows longer, the probability of someone linking to statistician Cosma Shalizi's essay g, a Statistical Myth approaches 1. Usually the link is accompanied by an assertion to the effect that Shalizi offers a definitive refutation of the concept of general mental ability, or psychometric g." [more inside]
Economists and the theory of politics - "why unions were often well worth any deadweight cost" [more inside]
Dissent Is the Health of the Democratic State - "We live in big, complex societies, which means we are thoroughly interdependent on each other, and that we will naturally have different ideas about how our life in common should go, and will have divergent interests. This means that politics we shall always have with us. It also means that political problems are largely ones about designing and reforming the institutions which shape how we interact with each other..." (via) [more inside]
Have you ever wondered what the water temperature off the Kamchatka Peninsula is? What about the wind speed in the Andaman Sea? Or maybe you’re losing sleep over the chlorophyll levels in the South Pacific. Fortunately, all of that information –- and 450 million other data points collected from oceanographic instruments around the world –- is freely and easily accessible thanks to the Marinexplore project. [more inside]
The Royal Observatory, Greenwich has put together the fantastic short video Measuring the Universe which briefly describes the different techniques used to allow us to calculate the vast distances to stellar objects in space. [via]
The official SI definition of a kilogram is "equal to the mass of the international prototype," a cylinder of nine-tenths platinum and one-tenth iridium, forged in the 1880s. "Le Grand K," as the prototype is affectionately known, is the basis not only for the measurement of mass and volume, but of force, energy, and luminosity—and since the 1940s, Le Grand K has been losing weight. Now scientists are trying to redefine the kilogram in terms of fundamental constants—and in doing so, perhaps fulfill the 18th-century promise of a universal, fundamental system of measurement "for all people, for all time."
The NIST Digital Archives is an online collection of scientific instruments from the National Institute of Standards and Technology. But even the experts don't always know what it is they've got, and they'd like your help. Any idea what you're supposed to do with Eight Dials Set in a Wooden Frame? How about Metal Instrument in Wood Case?
Interview with Gary Gorton (pdf) - Fascinating look at private institutional bank money creation (really) and subsequent run on the shadow banking system that hearkens back to the late-19th century banking crises with securitization playing the role of checking before the advent of deposit insurance. "Gorton is a lucid narrator of a complex tale." (via via)
With capitalism in crisis, can it be sustained or is it altogether outdated? As Umair Haque asks though, perhaps a better question is: "are organizations and markets making decisions that help make people, communities, and society better off in the long run, by allocating their scarce resources to the most productive uses?" [more inside]
Moving beyond GDP for an information-based society - If indeed[1,2] "A 'Quantum Leap' in Governance" is needed then, as part of the solution, we might start looking past GDP[5,6] and perhaps more toward "betterness instead of business, pursue awesomeness instead of innovation — and maximize good, instead of quarterly profits..." [more inside]
The U.S. is of course one of three countries that still use the English system of measurement, but Amy Wang (originally from metric-system-using Taiwan) won the Adobe Design Achievement Award in Environmental Graphics and Packaging in 2006 for “Ametrica!”, a campaign to get the U.S. to switch to the metric system instead. Whether you’re for or against metrication in America, Wang’s project is fresh and practical. [Via.]
Redefining Avogadro's Number. A mole is the number of molecules in a gram of water: ~6.022 x 1023. Unfortunately "a gram" is defined by a chunk of metal in a vault in France, the last of the seven SI units still defined by a physical artifact. Since the reference mass (known as "Le Gran K") is actually changing over time (due to cleaning, handling, etc), the definition of a gram is currently temporally unstable. Now a new proposal has been put forward to explicitly define the number to be a known integer: 602,214,141,070,409,084,099,072, which would fundamentally change the way we define a gram. Le Gran K could become a historical curiosity like the original platinum meter stick.
The LoTR musical needs Hobbits of a certain stature. What stature is that, budding thespians might ask? Well, smoot-height, of course! (Actually, 5'7" — or 170 cm — is the maximum height a would-be Frodo or Bilbo could be.) Another requirement is the ability to sing two songs ... and hairy appendages wouldn't hurt. So start knitting those foot-merkins! Auditions: 18 September, Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Catherine St (tube stop: Covent Garden).
How much does a kilogram weigh? Well, less than it used to. That's one of the reasons why Germany's PTB (Physical and Technical Institute) has been attempting to create a virtual kilogram. This was news a while back when they first decided to use silicon. Now they're going to try it with bismuth. (Details in German, English via Babelfish.)
Do Penis Enlargement Pills Work? I'll be chronicling my experience here for the benefit of others. I'll add that I am just a regular guy living in New York City (Go Yankees!) who wants a larger penis. (via Kill Ugly Radio). I'll be curious to hear how this progresses. This is safe for work (no pics; just measurements).
How Many? A Dictionary of Units of Measurement Did you know a pace is equal to two steps? That a pinch is equal to 1/8 a teaspoon? Or that the ancient Greeks defined an obolos as 1/6 a drachma? Now you do.
Metric Time... it's 95.5 do you know where your children are? (Check out the whole site; it's a wonderful melange of crazy and not so crazy ideas.)
Gee, stupid me. I thought it was a pretty good statue, myself. Seems someone with a laser beam and time on his hands has worked out that the statue of David squints. Wow. Thanks a lot, mister! I can rest a lot easier knowing that. Why, I might have been misled into believing it was some kind of masterpiece or something. What, he couldn't find anything more useless to do with his sabbatical?