Friday, December 02, 2022

General science updates plus amazing tech... starting with a wonder!

First, for some Big Picture think? Want another wise-guy interview?  For the Closer to Truth TV series, Robert Kuhn interviews me on the topic: “Does ESP Reveal the Nonphysical?

Okay this is just wonderful. Saturn's moon Titan is one of my favoritetourist haunts! " of the jewels of the solar system. Its greenish-blue hues are reminiscent of Earth, and it's the only other place in our part of the cosmos that we know to have roiling seas and wondrous clouds. But Titan is kind of strange; an alternate reality Earth. Its clouds and seas, rivers and lakes aren't composed of water. They're made of methane and ethane." The Cassini-Huygens probes showed us the marvels of (likely) lakes under the obscuring clouds. Only now...

...the Webb Telescope's infrared abilities can look through those clouds at the gorgeous surface!

== Amazing tech! And assertive ways to save the planet ==

GammaPix is a smartphone application available for both Android and iPhone operating systems that uses the smartphone camera sensor to detect and measure ionizing radiation fields. The software analyzes digital images produced by a smartphone camera to determine the local gamma-ray radiation environment. It compares a dark image (i.e., with the camera covered) to one with bright pixels caused by photons from a radiation source, which pass through a covered camera lens.

The U.S. government has directed the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to develop a plan to study solar geo-engineering, a controversial approach to combatting the effects of climate change by using stratospheric aerosol injection of short-lived reflective material, such as sulfur dioxide, into the stratosphere over the fast-melting poles. 

In the same month, Greta Thunberg came out favoring transitional nuclear power

Thirdly, studies of the effects of vast clouds of soot from last year's Australian fire on the seas have shown decisively that ocean fertilization can positively affect fast currents to increase fisheries and whale habitats.

At last we can ask the fringe-puritans to either make their crits useful and practical or else get out of the way, letting humanity's problem solvers find out which of many multi-prong approaches - pragmatically - can help assist the main effort

A main effort which of course must remain a strenuous emergency push aimed at reducing carbon pollution and other filthy habits.

=== Diving into biology ==

Some likely neurological and brain differences between humans and Neanderthals now pretty much verified. 

About 30 Neanderthal genomes have been sequenced. The lack of mitochondrial DNA (inherited from mother to child) from Neanderthals present in living humans might be evidence that only male Neanderthals and female Homo sapiens could – or did - successfully mate. I had not known the mitochondria results, which do imply an interesting past bias in gene flow. Still, alas, the author's hypothesis - Sex, not violence, may have sealed the fate of the Neanderthals - displays a profound lack of understanding of males or male behavior in nature. A more likely - if related - possibility is that those wandering males brought STDs back to their tribe. 

I hope the next two effects can be separated ... A genetic mutation that raises I.Q. ... and causes blindness.  Reminiscent of Disch’s novel Camp Concentration or Vernor Vinge’s A Deepness in the Sky.

A young engineer has created a rotary dial LTE cell phone. Want one! 

"Many animals signal to each other vocally or by banging on things, but new

research in a Ugandan rainforest shows that each chimpanzee pounds on tree

roots with its own individual signature drum beat to send messages more than

1km away. Combined with their hooting and hollering, signature rhythms allow them to send information over long distances, revealing who is where, and what they are


Okay so where have you seen that depicted before? 

Strong muscles, healthy brainEven moderate exercise can increase metabolism in brain regions important for learning and memory in older adults. And the brain itself has been found to respond to exercise in strikingly physical ways. Studies have shown that even in people with existing brain disease or damage, increased physical activity and motor skills are associated with better cognitive function. 

== Don't get too cocky ==

Yes there are many reasons for pride in our scientific advances that should fill us with the tools and the confidence tp solve the world's many problems. And yet there are also reminders of how deep those problems go...

As the United States' south-west faces the worst drought in more than a millennium... Tucson seeks new ways to reclaim water from the desert.

And in San Diego, toilet-to-tap recovery is progressing fast, as urgency make the previously-unacceptable suddenly normal. Like Greta Thunberg extolling carefully responsible nuclear power. And liberals now willing to invest research funds into cautious Geo-engineering - a flexibility in the face of new evidence that (alas) is entirely lacking on the other side.

One shift I'd like. Build that tunnel, long mentioned in Sci Fi, from the Sea of Cortez to California's Salton Sea, that would both draw downhill electricity while re-filling that sea so that it won't become a disaster of poison dust. And dwindling Colorado River fresh water can go where it's needed.

And finally...

An interview with Neil DeGrasse Tyson about three types of 'truth' and how we must not let incantations or ideologies trump objective reality. Best of all, he talks about how to argue with all but the worst fanatics. Start by finding some shared common ground, then examine the gaps for some that can be crossed...

...till we are back to a place where we can take our further arguments to a pub, for beers. Share with your borderline MAGAs.


Joe said...

Thurday night, Lee Berger announced that evidence of hearths and soot had been found in the Rising Star cave system in South Africa. Formerly many skeletal remains of Homo naledi have been found at the end of very tight passages. Homo naledi lived about 300 thousand years ago and had a brain size of less than 600 cc. There was no sign that Homo naledai actually lived in the caves. It looks like Homo naledi lived at the same time as their much larger brained relatives (us), that they used fire, and went to a lot of trouble to dispose of their dead kin in the cave system.

David Brin said...

Our great breakthrough (I assert in EXISTENCE) was to become capable of software UPGRADES, Maybe 70,000 ya

scidata said...

I saw a minor but interesting tech 'leap' the other day - punctuation. Before the 12th century, reading was a communal experience, and text was mashed together as one long train, one speaker (reader) conveying the passage to many audience members.

With the invention of punctuation and 'chunks' (spaces, commas, periods, paragraphs, etc), the experience of reading became an individual (and silent) experience, vastly enriching and diversifying the interpretation of passages. The reader's own experiences, sensibility, and imagination became integral to the process. We made the literary leap from passive congregations to a civilization of individuals.

"If you are lonely when you're alone, you are in bad company."
- Jean-Paul Sartre

GMT -5 8032 said...

I will derail this conversation. The url and the headline say much of what you need to know:

We are friends of this family. We are not Orthodox Jews, but Rabbi Asher is a wonderful religious leader who encourages everyone to be a little more observant without ever being critical or judgemental.

Henya is a warm and friendly woman who is good friends with my wife. She is still in the ICU and I will assume that the prognosis is grim. Asher and Henya have 12 other children (there is a goal for Orthodox families to have 13 children) and I know how tough it is to lose a sibling when you are child.

I don't think anyone here is a religious fundamentalist. Rabbi Asher might show you that a person can be a fundamentalist and a truly good person. If I were writing on a real keyboard and not on my phone I could tell a few stories.

Alan Brooks said...

Sometimes our savior:

DP said...

"In the same month, Greta Thunberg came out favoring transitional nuclear power."

Back of the envelope calculations for the number of nukes needed:

Amount of CO2 sent into the atmosphere by human activities = 32,000,000,000 tons per year

Fraction retained in the atmosphere (not absorbed by existing carbon sinks) = 43% Annual

Accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere = 13,760,000,000 tons / year

Life cycle CO2 emissions from coal power plants = 820 g of CO2 / kWh

Life cycle CO2 emissions from nuclear power plants = 12 g of CO2 / kWh

Life cycle CO2 reduction using nuclear power plants = 808 g of CO2 / kWh = 1.75 lbs of CO2 / kWh

Amount of energy to be replaced to eliminate CO2 accumulation = 15,725,714,285,714 kWh per year = 15,725,714,286 MWh per year = 15,725,714 GWh per year

Power output of large nuclear power plant (example Palo Verde, 3 each 1.338 GW reactors) After a power uprate, each reactor is now able to produce 1.4 GW of electric power. The usual power production capacity is about 70 to 95 percent of this.) = approximately 4 GW = 35,000 GWh per year

Number of large nuclear plants required to replace coal plants emitting excess CO2 = 450 each 4 GW nuclear facilities

Capital cost of nuclear power plant (again using Palo Verde, this power plant became fully operational by 1988, and it took twelve years to build and cost about $5.9 billion) = conservatively double the cost to to $12 billion in today's dollars

Cost of the 450 equivalent 4 GW facilities needed to replace CO2 emissions = 450 x $12 billion = $5.4 trillion

World GDP (2016) = $75.4 trillion

Summary: There are currently 467 operational nuclear power plants worldwide. We can eliminate all excess CO2 emission by adding another 450 each 4 GW plants. The cost would be about 7% of world GDP.

Annual percent of world GDP spent on the military is about 2%.

So we solve global warming by roughly doubling the number of nuclear plants worldwide. We simply cannot prevent global warming without lots of nukes. Safe, clean nukes

Other efforts (solar and wind, afforestation, carbon capture, fertilizing the oceans with irons sulfate, etc.) can help but they are not nearly as cost effective as expanding nuclear energy.

DP said...

"using stratospheric aerosol injection of short-lived reflective material, such as sulfur dioxide"

Stupid question. If we pump the stratosphere with reflective material won't that diminish sunlight hitting the Earth? And in doing so, won't that reduce photosynthesis in plants and crops?

Global warming is already screwing with crop yields. This "solution" could make it worse.

DP said...

OK if 43% of human GHG emissions stay in the atmosphere we need to reduce that by either:

Improving fossil fuel efficiencies by 43% (not practical)

Reducing human standard of living by 43% (not tolerable)

Reducing human population by 43%.

This last one is possible as human depopulation (aka the demographic cliff) gathers steam.

We just hit 8 billion.

According to The Lancet, human population won't hit 10 billion, peaking by mid century and falling rapidly:

By 2100, projected fertility rates in 183 of 195 countries will not be high enough to maintain current populations without liberal immigration policies.

World population forecasted to peak in 2064 at around 9.7 billion people and fall to 8.8 billion by century’s end, with 23 countries seeing populations shrink by more than 50%, including Japan, Thailand, Italy, and Spain.

Dramatic declines in working age-populations are predicted in countries such as India and China, which will hamper economic growth and lead to shifts in global powers.

Liberal immigration policies could help maintain population size and economic growth even as fertility falls.

Authors warn response to population decline must not compromise progress on women’s freedom and reproductive rights.

OK, if we can bend the population curve fast enough, we can narrowly avoid an overheated planet. It would like the Titanic barely missing that iceberg.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

Best of all, he talks about how to argue with all but the worst fanatics. Start by finding some shared common ground, then examine the gaps for some that can be crossed...

On Stephanie Miller's radio show Friday, they were playing a clip of a tv interview with some Trumpist on the street who insisted with a straight face that Joe Biden isn't really the president, and that Donald Trump still holds that office. So the interviewer asks multiple follow-ups to establish without a doubt that the guy is saying Trump is still the president.

Then, the interviewer asks, "Do you blame Trump for inflation?" The guy says of course not, that Trump doesn't have anything to do with that. So the interviewer asks "Who do you blame, then?" And the MAGAt replies that it's Joe Biden's fault. So then the interviewer asks how that could be if Biden isn't president.

The interviewee, of course, went off an a tangent about how people have to stop listening to fake news and understand "the real truth", but there was a few seconds of hesitation there in which he was obviously confused and had to recalibrate. One of the guys on the radio show says he could "hear the exact moment when that guy's brain broke."

Unknown said...


Jordan Klepper is basically making a career out of doing exactly that. In one of his videos Jordan asks a Qpublican who he thinks is running the military. The guy says Trump is. The follow up question is, "So Trump is responsible for the pullout in Afghanistan?". Interviewee then looks confused and annoyed for a second or two before saying "No," and walking off.

This isn't sharing common ground, though. Pointing out the flaws in someone's reasoning is often more likely to make them double down. Stealing from Spider Robinson, we should perhaps distribute red hats bearing the logo "Go Lemmings Go".


country mouse said...

shown decisively that ocean fertilization can positively affect fast currents to increase fisheries and whale habitats.

this study??

Larry Hart said...


This isn't sharing common ground, though. Pointing out the flaws in someone's reasoning is often more likely to make them double down.

If done in such a way as to "gotcha" the interviewee, then yes, that will be the effect. But I can imagine the approach being handled on more friendly terms. A voice full of empathy asking, "But I'm confused, now. Didn't you say Biden isn't president. Then how can he...?". Gently guiding the other guy toward having to explain the contradiction instead of emphasizing the contradiction itself.

Alfred Differ said...


I'm not disagreeing with your stand on nukes being necessary, but you'd best plan for many more. Some of us in the west are managing to make roughly the same amount of energy do more for us by wasting less of it, but much of the world is better described as energy starved. We should be delivering it to them in larger quantities and smaller prices (like we can get in our markets) as that will move them to drop other behaviors that damage our environment.

The path forward involves nukes, wasting less of what we have, and getting a whole lot more energy to people 'in the rest of the world.'


Be careful with comparisons to military expenditures. Much of those come from the US where curbing them will have the opposite effect in other parts of the world. For example, our navy is larger than all the other nations combined. Keeping it that way discourages others from wasting their money building their own fleets. Sure... some do anyway... but mostly for littoral waters protection and territorial claims defense.

If you want less military spending worldwide they have to believe it is a stupid thing to do more than finding peace in their hearts.


Also be careful with cost estimates for nuke plants. Much of that is regulatory costs. Lawsuits. Regulatory compliance. Etc. Those are costs imposed on the industry to discourage producers from building them. They also have a side effect of discouraging producers from letting engineers improvise new and better ways to do things... which might reduce costs.

Ultimately, nuke power plants are just giant steam turbines heated by 'fuels' that are damn dangerous. Most of the plant is actually ancient tech. The rest is for generating heat without poisoning the landscape. Engineers could do a LOT of good there if we had the courage to let them.

Alfred Differ said...

I LOVE the Titan surface images.

I remember my early student days when I first realized an alien with eyes specialized in IR bands might have a lot of trouble seeing us on the ground. Our atmosphere is too opaque. That got me wondering what we might look like from their perspectives. *

When images arrived of Venus' atmosphere in different wavelengths I was fascinated. Change how you look and you changed what you saw. That trick gets used over and over in astronomy... since we don't have many other options. The solar corona is best seen in the light it emits. Venus' surface is best seen in the light the atmosphere won't absorb (see Magellan). Over and over and over.

And now we have methane/ethane sea images. 8)

* Little stars with close worlds have all sorts of problems for propositions that they might harbor life as we know it. Those worlds need multiple defenses against their star's misbehavior, but also need to trap heat. Letting in short-IR and trapping long-IR isn't simple with terrestrial-like atmospheres.

Realistic designs of these aliens from worlds close to little stars involves non-trivial tasks. Mr Predator from the movies using WAY too much energy. He's designed like someone from a high energy availability world.

scidata said...

Alfred Differ: Change how you look and you changed what you saw

By combining observations from several different instruments, the JWST has discovered photochemical generation of sulphur dioxide in the atmosphere of WASP-39b. That's a blow for the 'unique Earth' hypothesis. The next logical search is for ozone in the atmosphere of an Earth type exoplanet.

David Brin said...

Terrible, GMT. Best wishes.

duncan cairncross said...


Wind, Solar and Storage is about a quarter the cost of Nuclear and ten times as fast to build

We need to actually be reducing the CO2 level - with the current level the world is slowly warming up - the last time the CO2 levels were this high the oceans were 20 meters higher

Reducing energy requirements
That is what engineers do - we can have just a good a lifestyle with a fraction of the energy

David Brin said...

A civilization on a tidally locked planet orbiting close to a red star would likely have huge numbers of solar collectors along the rim zone facing sunward, some reflecting light into the shadow zone. I wonder if such collectors might have visible technosignature effects on telescopes aimed to track those planets nearing opposition.

scidata said...

Artificial reflectors would be cool. There are several other things to look for. I recently watched a movie that had astronomers looking at transit light curves. They find a small bump within one dip that at first looks like an exomoon. However on closer inspection, they discover that it's on station keeping at L1, just inside the habitable zone. Communication by quantum entanglement ensues.

David Brin said...

What movie scidata?

scidata said...

The movie was CLARA on Amazon Prime. The story is set in Toronto and at JPL. They talk about JWST being launched 'next year', so it might have been made just before the pandemic, which maybe explains why it was in the bargain bin.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

A civilization on a tidally locked planet orbiting close to a red star would likely have huge numbers of solar collectors along the rim zone facing sunward

Are you familiar with Asimov's novel Nemesis? In that one, he postulated a livable moon orbiting a tidally-locked planet orbiting a red star. As opposed to the planet, the moon had regular days and nights.

David Brin said...

Thx scidate

LH kewl

Larry Hart said...

Off topic, I just saw the Hunger Games film "Mockingjay Part 1" again, and the fact that the actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman died before completing Part 2 lends itself to all sorts of unintended irony in the films. The one I noticed this time is when Effie insists that she's the only one in District 13 who knows Katniss well enough to work with her, and Hoffman's character authoritatively tells her that, "Anyone can be replaced."

Tony Fisk said...

Following up on that off-topic, Effie's best line comes in a deleted scene, where she is dismissing a couple of finger painters masquerading as Katniss' make-up artists.
"This is the face of a revolution, not some.. cave painting!" she proclaims.
"Have you even met rouge!?"

Tony Fisk said...

I doubt nuclear power will play a major part in the move away from fossil fuels. Indeed, I suspect the fossil fuel industry have been using it as a foil.
A solar farm can be built for <$1 per watt of generating power in a fraction of the time it would take a nuclear station to be commissioned.
In the last two years Australia's power sourcing from renewables has gone from 25% to 34%, despite the best efforts of Scotty & co.

Larry Hart said...

Is this for real?

Iran has abolished the morality police, according to an announcement by the attorney general carried on state media, following months of protests set off by the death of a young woman who was being held by the force for supposedly violating the country’s strict Islamic dress laws.

Unknown said...


Looks real.

For Asian and SEA news I go to the Straits Times.

That won't prevent self-appointed "Morality Police" from organizing in its place, though. This ain't over.


DP said...

duncan - Wind, Solar and Storage is about a quarter the cost of Nuclear and ten times as fast to build

Have you factored in land costs?

Tony Fisk said...

What about land costs?
Not that much is needed, but solar and wind do not preclude other uses. Some crops/ herds actually thrive between the solar panels.
Plus, of course, the best land for solar panels isn't prime value!
In fact, land usage and value is going to be changing dramatically over the next decade or two anyway, because we cannot sustain the current level of livestock we have. Currently 96% of organic mass consists of humanity, plus the animals and crops we use, and agriculture contributes to about a third of our greenhouse emissions.
No, that's not necessarily a Malthusian cul-de-sac we're in. There are solutions (see Monbiot's 'Regenesis') but, coming back to the original snark, to talk about land costs is a bit inconsequential.

David Brin said...

Duty cycles, Tony. The sun doesn't always shine, nor the wind blow.

Alfred Differ said...

Yah. We don’t buy flowing electrons. We buy reliably flowing electrons.

Tony Fisk said...


Alan Brooks said...

A new MP will take the place of the former one. People relinquish their power—when they die.

Unknown said...

Kal Kallevig

Tony Fisk said...

Actually, that point does highlight another success for our bete celebre, Elon.
The battery storage facility he organised for South Australia after all those wind farms blew over the power lines (or so the RW pundits were putting it) proved mighty effective, not for providing long term storage, * but for reliable load switching. The battery was able to kick in whenever a (*ahem!*) 'base load' coal station dropped out before a gas plant was able to rub the sleep from its turbines.

* We'll consider that argument settled when aluminium smelters start relying on renewables!

duncan cairncross said...

Duty Cycles

That is why I included "Storage" as part of the unholy Triumvirate - storage does add to the cost but its not a huge amount
Hydro power is "rain power" and needs a huge area with the correct geometry - we have used most of the best Hydro locations
Pumped Hydro just needs two lakes at different levels - and we have not even scratched the surface of those possibilities

Old fashioned Hydro can join in the storage - only use the water when needed

Then we have
Long distance transmission (High Voltage DC)
Overbuilding - as the wind and solar generators are cheap build MORE
Demand control - use electricity Price to shape demand

Then there are lots of other storage modes
Batteries seem to be best for short spells
Compressed air
Compressed CO2
Thermal storage

The sun doesn't always shine, nor the wind blow - not "here" it doesn't - but somewhere it does

I would note that here (NZ) we have screwed up
One of our right wing government sold off the generating assets to separate companies now they compete rather than cooperating - BAD idea

David Brin said...

* We'll consider that argument settled when aluminium smelters start relying on renewables!

Most bauxite refining is next to big dams for a reason

Alfred Differ said...

Wholesale electricity markets aren't simple beasts easily grokked with back of the envelope calculations.

I used to work at CAISO (California Independent System Operator) and could watch the folks in the operations room. Summer afternoons could turn amazingly stressful in minutes. Take a peek at the linked page and you'll see a section referring to ancillary services. Those are absolutely critical when the pressure is on.

One thing missing from the ancillary services page is 'black start' power. Many generators actually need power to get going. Some need it to stay safe. They don't always supply their own.

Der Oger said...

@ Larry Hart:
Is this for real?

Same was reported over here. I assume those morality cops won't stay unemployed for long.
Protesters have called for a general strike.
Interesting rumor: There are considerations of new elections in Iran.

Larry Hart said...

Der Oger:

I assume those [Iranian] morality cops won't stay unemployed for long.
Protesters have called for a general strike.

Can you please clarify? They're protesting the abolition of the morality police? I don't really expect that's what is going on, but I'm having trouble connecting those two sentences.

Alfred Differ said...

Protests have been going on for quite some time. A woman was killed by the morality cops while she was in custody. Abolishing the morality cops is a long delayed response to the protests.

Unknown said...

In Saudi we (USAF) were advised to steer clear of the Mutawwai'in (local morality enforcers) when off base/off duty, particularly if there were servicewomen in the group. And, of course, servicewomen couldn't drive off base, even if that was their MOS. It was the only place I was ever invited to go see a public execution, by some RWMF who thought we ought to have them in the states, too. I should have asked him if he'd ever committed adultery, because that was one of the capital offenses. I think they unloaded a dump truck of rocks on you. Wouldn't know, didn't go. I said I'd meet Death soon enough.


Reducing energy consumption has been touted as a reason to deprivatize power utilities. A utility corporation makes more money by selling more power, unless the government introduces some sort of compensation, which costs the gov't even more.

Der Oger said...

Can you please clarify? They're protesting the abolition of the morality police? I don't really expect that's what is going on, but I'm having trouble connecting those two sentences.

No, sorry, I should have been clearer.
They continue protests despite those gestures by the Attorney General abolishing the morality police.

Over here, Iranian exile commenters on twitter have warned about buying into this story, for several reasons:
a) The morality cops might be replaced by political police squads who usually behave worse than their predecessors;
b) Iran is heavily investing in face recognition technology (courtesy of China)
c) It might be a deception to buy some time, as security forces are exhausted by two-and-a-half months of protests.
d) It is unclear whether the Attorney General acted within the boundaries of his office and Iranian laws, or overstepped them.

Protests have been going on for quite some time. A woman was killed by the morality cops while she was in custody. Abolishing the morality cops is a long delayed response to the protests.

AFAIK, the woman killed was the daughter of a high-ranking Kurdish cleric.

Tony Fisk said...

I wonder how many copies of the Farsi translation of Greg Egan's 'Zendegi' are selling?
(The first part has a pretty riveting description of the conflict between organised protest and state surveillance.)

Larry Hart said...

Der Oger:

A woman was killed by the morality cops while she was in custody. Abolishing the morality cops is a long delayed response to the protests.

I wonder rhetorically why fascists can't be satisfied with arresting women for trivial infractions, but feel compelled to take that extra step of killing them in custody. Are they arrogant enough to actually dare people to protest?

We're not immune in the US. Sandra Bland immediately comes to mind, somehow managing to "hang herself" in jail after being pulled over for a busted taillight.

Alfred Differ said...

Sapolsky has a very depressing chapter on why these women get killed. Some are even killed by their own families when you examine the broader problem.

Alfred Differ said...


I don't buy that as a nationalization argument. Utilities make money as monopolies which means they can charge more for what you are buying without having to sell you more of it. All they need is a way to justify the costs they incur without provoking a political backlash from the rest of us.

I'm wary of de-privatization arguments when it comes to climate change. I'm much too inclined to believe those advocating for those arguments are more interested in de-capitalization.

The only way out of this mess is forward... and we need functional markets for that to happen. For example, I can be moved to conserve power when I'm paying for it without any tax funded subsidies. My wallet would scream in agony. 8)

Der Oger said...

Are they arrogant enough to actually dare people to protest?

Some might be. Others live in their own bubble, are overworked and frustrated. Or believe (and rightly so, I fear), that they are protected by their colleagues.

We're not immune to this, neither, remembering the Oury Jalloh case.

Anyone with power over life and death - being it armed services or healthcare personnel - must be held to higher standards and kept on a tight leash. But in liberal societies, this tight leash makes those jobs unattractive, and thus you loose replacements. A dilemma.

reason said...

DP- you know that simple equating of population size and economic growth is nonsense? Think about dependency ratios - more elderly people on the one hand - but fewer children on the other. Not to mention the recent experience of the substitution of (cheap) labour for more capital investment that has been seen throughout the world.

scidata said...

I continue to be vexed by Elon-Twitter-OpenAI adventures and misadventures. The Hunter laptop affair has been revealed to be little more than a sordid dic-pic fiasco, while ChatGPT seems poised to reorder the entire textual world:
"plausible-sounding but incorrect or nonsensical answers" joins "Truthiness" and "Mathiness" as faux touchstones of our times.

And why does CNN always show a Falcon 9 launch whenever it gives Artemis mission updates? Plain sloppiness or subtle mindcraft?

Twitterless in Toronto.

Darrell E said...

Some interesting science / political news about the origin of COVID-19. The following excerpts are from the article Proximal Orchestrations: Newly released emails cast more doubt than ever on the official story of Covid-19 as a naturally occurring virus, by Nicholas Wade in the City Journal.

"The SARS-CoV2 genome, some 30,000 nucleotide units in length, contains a 12-nucleotide insert, known as a furin cleavage site, which greatly enhances its infectivity. Closely related viruses frequently exchange genetic material, so it would be easy to see SARS-CoV2’s furin cleavage site as having a natural origin if any other viruses in its group possessed one. But none does. Hence Farzan’s perplexity and his inference that the furin site must have been engineered into the virus."

"One other point is worth noting before addressing the central mystery of the new emails. Inside the anomaly of the furin cleavage site is another puzzle, also highly indicative of an engineered virus. The genetic code is universal but also loose enough to allow for spelling preferences that differ from one organism to another. So coronaviruses prefer one set of spellings and humans another. Six of the 12 nucleotides in the furin cleavage site, the sequence CGG-CGG, represent the human-preferred spelling. Indeed, this sequence, when in correct frame, is unknown in coronaviruses, raising the clear possibility that it came from a lab kit, not from nature."

There is much more in the article and anyone interested in this puzzle really should click through and read the whole thing.

This article is quite convincing, but given all the data I'm aware of so far I still have to go with, "not sure, need more data." Unfortunately the data that could clear this whole thing up is in China, and they aren't sharing. Hopefully they will, some day.

I must say though that I never did understand the, . . . fervor perhaps is a good word(?), the fervor with which so many people responded whenever I questioned why they were so adamant that a lab leak "could" not possibly have happened. Note, not "did," but "could" not.

To be honest I was a bit disappointed that so many on “my side” seemed to have allowed their political views, or something, to outweigh their reasoning.

David Brin said...

Alfred the worst example of abuse of utilities was Mexico ‘selling’ its national telephone monopoly to Carlos Slim who for a while became the richest man in the world. They should simply take it back at the original price.

There IS a rational for public utilities where there are natural/inherent monopolies like electrical or water lines. The railroad companies should not be private. OTOH, electricity has innovated new competitive approaches connecting new generators to consumers over utility wires.

Darrell I have always been open to possibilities that Sars-Cov-19 was human modified. The PRC would be terrified of liability even if it were an ‘innocent’ ‘gain of function’ research that got loose by accident. But what’s scarier to me is the PRC’s total lockdown policy which has caused them immense ruction and economic harm. Why would they do that?

1. Their vaccine is apparently inferior. But in that case why not license a western one?

2, Long Covid creeps me and I have to wonder, does the PRC know something we don’t know?

Alfred Differ said...


Fortunately for us, telephony monopolies won't impact climate much.

I grant there is corruption in privatization ideas that turn ideals into sordid reality. What worries me is a similar kind of corruption that turns our idealistic climate intent into little brother deciding who wins and loses in the markets. My little brothers are free to transact as they chose, but when they wield legislative and judicial tools I get real nervous.

There WERE rationals for public utility monopolies, but with modern computing some of those rationals are failing. We've shown some of this here in California with how CAISO operates. It turns out that we don't need a monopoly owner of the transmission grid. We need a market maker and scheduler with broad powers, but they don't have to own the assets. There is an interesting middle ground between state agency control and private ownership of the grid that supports a wild mix of generation sources and consumer aggregates. Those of us at the end of the wire tend to deal with local monopolies… but not everywhere. The distribution grid might be owned by one company and the power we buy delivered by another.

I don't have to tell you all that, though, since you live here too. For folks outside, though, California has managed something quite astonishing. We've kept our max demands fairly stead for decades as our population grew. We've already proven one can do more with less and we didn't have to strip private companies out of the market.

What you ALL might not realize is that in many ways the private players are actually better players in terms of responding to future needs. I'm not trying to say they are saintly. Far from it. However, I was at CAISO when we had to restructure the wholesale market to make room for congestion pricing. It was the cities who dragged us FOR YEARS. They had no profit motive and felt little need to think big or about the future a few decades ahead. Private utilities DO think a few decades ahead.

duncan cairncross said...


IF privatisation had happened because it was superior THEN the call to de-privatise would be a bad idea

HOWEVER in this world "Privatisation" has almost always been an ideological call - and masses of operations that should NOT have been "privatised have been

Today that means that the "default" should be to de-privatise and that people who want to keep things privatised should have to show the benefits

Alfred's point about the "market maker" is a very good one - if we can't (politically) de-privatise then we do need to DESIGN the market to achieve the desired effect

David Brin said...

I keep coming back to the core word of the enlightenment that is ignored by the left and mangled/ruined by the right. COMPETITION.

Creating waves of children who become confident -empowered market competitors is the BEST justification for liberal programs. Well, most of them.

Privatization that leads to monopolies, like Carlos Slim or the 1990s Baby Bells is not competition, it is the creation of vile cheater cartels.

David Brin said...

December 19 1997… 25 years ago… TITANIC came out, to thunderous success, quickly sinking all competition. Know what it’s competition was, the same weekend? THE POSTMAN, of course.

Alfred Differ said...

Today that means that the "default" should be to de-privatise and that people who want to keep things privatised should have to show the benefits

I can't get behind that, but I am open to recognizing mistakes if they were made. My preferred remedy is competition, though. De-privatizing should be an absolute last resort.

CAISO's market is somewhere between designed and chaos. It's best thought of an an emergent structure where the players are not all equally potent. Technically speaking, CAISO is not a CA state agency. In practice, though, it is... through an appointed board of directors that pay close attention to our governor's concerns. It operates furthest from being a state agency when the Governor isn't paying close attention to it.

Privatization that leads to private monopolies is theft from the public sector.

Deprivatization that leads to government control is theft from the private sector.

I don't like either one... and don't accept that we just do one to avoid the other.


CAISO provides plenty of examples of how people with good intentions did not have sufficient foresight to imagine the consequences of their decisions. Lots and lots of examples. Most important, though, is the example that we can learn from these errors and incrementally approach a more competitive market.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Alfred

Private ownership works best at making "things"

From the "working model" stage to full production private ownership demonstrably works better

Public ownership actually DOES the stages from basic research to "working model" - so which one "works best" is moot

Services like Courts, Education, Fire Brigade, Police, Healthcare, Defense - work much much better on the Public Ownership model

Services like - Water, Power Supply, Sewage - also work much better as public owned as they require the wires and pipes which effectively make them a "monopoly" service

"Deprivatization that leads to government control is theft from the private sector" - only if it is done by fiat - if a "fair price" is paid then its not theft

A lot of the problems that the USA does have with its "public owned" sectors is due to this damn stupid system of trying to elect the "Doers"
In sensible countries we elect the "leaders" - the doers are selected as those who do the job best

Alan Brooks said...

‘Titanic’ was fine, except for the scene near the end, when the elderly Rose throws the diamond into the ocean. But then, some viewers want that sort of thing.

Larry Hart said...

Alan Brooks:

Titanic’ was fine, except for the scene near the end, when the elderly Rose throws the diamond into the ocean.

That actually wasn't the most unbelievable story element for me. There was the Molly Brown character--an older woman traveling alone who just happened to be carrying a man's suit that fit Leonardo DiCaprio.

More seriously, for a movie that was touted for its character-driven plot, the villain of the piece was too one-dimensional for my tastes.

...the elderly Rose...

Funny, but in 1997, as much of a stretch as it was, it was still possible to accept a teen-aged passenger on the Titanic still being alive. It would be ridiculous to try that today unless even the "present" part of the story was set in the recent past.

Alan Brooks said...

Or this:

Alfred Differ said...


I'm not convinced. Assertions don't suffice. Pointing to history likely doesn't either as I can always point out something like "We haven't actually tried...".

For example, I think the private sector CAN do education and healthcare to some degree. Maybe not for everyone, but a mixed model allows us to choose. Fire and Police can probably run mixed mode too, but I don't expect many non-libertarians to believe that any more than people from several centuries ago thought we could live without Kings.

As for utilities, you are making the mistake of arguing that the owner of the assets must be the supplier of the services. We don't do that here in California for the transmission grid, but do for the distribution grids. Again... mixed mode is a real possibility people have a hard time imagining.

...if a "fair price" is paid then it's not theft...

Ha! It's not theft if the seller is willing. Period. End of Story.

Besides... without the market you don't know a fair price. That's the point that undermines hard socialism and it's requirement for public ownership of the means of production. Without markets prices simply don't exist and we don't know what exchanges people would willingly make in pursuit of their best interests.

Fair prices emerge from the collection actions of people with no power to design the system and every power to decide what trade-offs make sense to them.

duncan cairncross said...

Fair prices emerge from the collection actions of people with no power to design the system and every power to decide what trade-offs make sense to them.

That ONLY works if there is no "Power imbalance" - if all parties have the same amount on the table

When one party has his/her whole wellbeing on the table and the other party has a small proportion of his/her "spare wealth" on the table then a "Fair Price" does not cannot emerge

Its like playing poker - the guy with the deepest pockets will win

Unknown said...

Tastes differ, but for me the most memorable part of Titanic was the Irish dance party below decks. The band was Gaelic Storm, who I saw live in a cramped theatre in Spokane - playing, among other original songs, "The Night I Punched Russell Crowe (the Gladiator) in the Face".


Honor killings are definitely still a part of some cultures. Even close to home, the tradition lingers in the form of some very morbid folk songs...

"Through and through the Lady's heart, the cold steel it did go..."

Well, at least James Branch Cabell had a misbehaving Musgrave win his duel with the aggrieved husband, so his lover lived.


P.S. it took a long time for me to notice that Heinlein stole Manuel O'Kelly Davis' convict ancestor from folk song, too - Manny was a descendant of Black Jack Davy

Unknown said...

(and the highborn lady who ran off with Black Jack)


Larry Hart said...

Capitol police who protected the Capitol during 1/6 receive Congressional Medal of Honor. They snub Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy by blatantly not shaking hands with them.

Der Oger said...

From the article:
...till we are back to a place where we can take our further arguments to a pub, for beers.

Imagine an elderly bunch of male conservatives in various stages of alcoholism discussing politics, and you know what "Stammtischpolitik" and Beer Tent Speeches mean. Beware, or you might end up in Bavaria :-)

From todays news:
A group of wannabe putschists has been arrested.

From the article:
Among those detained were a member of the far-right Alternative for Germany party who had served in the German Parliament, a member of the German nobility and a Russian citizen accused of supporting the group’s plans. Federal prosecutors said that they were investigating a total of 52 suspects.

One of the goals not mentioned in the article was "the renegotiation of the terms of the end of WWII".

David Brin said...

Der Oger... while in prison will one of these putschists write an attempted Mein Kampf?

Three things need to happen:

The West must thrive.

The Left must realize that immigration was THE method used to drive European voters rightward, and that sometimes you just got to pick your fights. Open borders will destroy your movement.

Putinism must not only be destroyed, we need those KGB blackmail files. Trick Vlad into spilling them all openly as 'revenge on Western elites for letting him down.' We'll have a little turbulence... and then do fine.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

we need those KGB blackmail files. Trick Vlad into spilling them all openly as 'revenge on Western elites for letting him down.' We'll have a little turbulence... and then do fine.

I suspect that the dirt they have on Lindsey Graham is nothing we don't already know.

"Do I really have to explain what a secret is?"

Alfred Differ said...


I get your concern, but you undermine your position. Government has the ultimate power to take, so 'fair price' is a really squishy concept.

Some imbalance doesn't undermine my position. No market exists where the players are all balanced perfectly. You'll only see that in an econ classroom as an exercise.

What you need for a decent approximation is moderate balance AND both players can afford to walk away from a deal. If I own property and the government is ordered to take it by voters, I can't walk away even if there is no threat of me winding up in jail.

I'm not arguing against taking things from cheaters, but I do smirk at the concept of 'fair price' most of the time. However, I know of one example where I don't. If I own property the city needs for some community purpose, paying me a price that roughly matches the values of property around mine gets close to being fair. One has to watch out for property improvement value, but the market providing a price to the property around mine at least gets close.

duncan cairncross said...


We have three players in these games
The Government
Massive Corporations

People are always the weak player
The Government is supposed to be "The People" - acting for the people - but is often just on the side of the Massive Corporations

"Some imbalance doesn't undermine my position. No market exists where the players are all balanced perfectly. You'll only see that in an econ classroom as an exercise.

What you need for a decent approximation is moderate balance AND both players can afford to walk away from a deal. If I own property and the government is ordered to take it by voters, I can't walk away even if there is no threat of me winding up in jail."

That is a very very RARE situation - usually the Government is "taking" from the Huge Corporations - an individual owning something like a Utility that should be de-privatised is rare - and an individual who is rich enough to own a utility can defend him/her self

David Brin said...

I argue one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century was the NGO, wherein thousands of small people can pool membership dues to hire professionals on a par with those in government and corporations. I have no idea why no one wvery mentions this.

Except Putin & Fox, who rail at the NGOs that G Soros used to 'topple 8 foreign governments." Putin volcanically hates western NGOs because they allow the West to wage war against tyrants while the governments disclaim any responsibility.

Alfred Differ said...


I don't think your list of players is that simple. David already pointed out one example. I'll point out that a number of non-profits are quite potent, though many of them are large enough to qualify as NGO's.

An example making David's point...

It was an NGO supported by many Americans during Obama's time that was in Ukraine 'teaching them democracy' before their upheaval that kicked out the pro-Russian kleptocracy. I can't quite recall its name, but I knew of one of the guys who was over there acting. He despised Obama and felt it necessary to do 'what was right' for the citizens of Ukraine even though the US officially wouldn't. He was careful not to use his real name around me and others of us who interacted with him, but I have NO doubt his organization forced events in a direction Obama and Clinton would have preferred to avoid for pragmatic reasons.

The war going on over there right now is a consequence of what he and his friends were doing. I have absolutely no doubt about that.


For another example involving a smaller organization, my friends pushed for changes in how the US handled 'space projects'. We wanted the frontier opened and didn't trust anyone would get to our vision of the future within our lifetimes. The only solution for idealists like us was to foster an economic revolution the US could not put down because it wasn't in the nature of our elected officials.

Whether people recognize our hand in what is happening today doesn't concern most of us... but we DID win. Most of us have declared success and moved on to consider other parts of the vision we have of the future.


You won't convince me The People don't have power outside of voting in elected officials who express it for us. We act directly and with great force when we choose to do so. I've seen it first hand.

duncan cairncross said...


The people DO have great power - no question

But the very rich and corporations also have "great power" and theirs is much much more concentrated

Alfred Differ said...

Mmm. Concentrated as cash? True.
Cash makes it easier to trade on that power.
The rest of us have to work harder at moving people who need to retain their day jobs.


Well... this doesn't really go anywhere. Most everyone here knows I'm less inclined to regulate and more inclined to ask what 'natural' forces can be fostered to defeat cheaters. Concentrations aren't so bad as long as there are several nodes and the people in control of each don't agree on objectives. It's golf buddies who can become most dangerous.

That NGO that acted in Ukraine was strongly partisan in terms of US politics, but I doubt they anticipated all the consequences of their rallying against Russian concentrations of cash. Who would have expected Sweden AND Finland to step up and want to join NATO? Heh.

Der Oger said...

Der Oger... while in prison will one of these putschists write an attempted Mein Kampf?

Maybe. Netting them even more time in prison for incitement, defiling the memory of the dead, slander and show of constitution-hostile symbols. Or maybe, as some conspirators are quite old, they die in prison.

"How come that they could enter the buildings and arrest them without a single shot fired?" - "The Nursing service had a key."

Three things need to happen
I agree on the first and third point, and would add a fourth: We need a reform of how politics get forward in the EU. That would greatly curtail the number of games Berlin, Paris and Budapest can play.

On the second issue, I disagree.

I'd rather see that all possible destinations of refugees (including the US, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand) sit down at a table and agree on the number of refugees they are willing to take in. Because, as of now, they will come due to climate change and the accompanying scenarios. (A fanciful dream, I know).

Second, our demographic situation, lack of skilled workers, and current system of immigration is about to form an unholy trinity that will greatly affect our economy in the next five to ten years. We desperately need skilled workers (as 25% of our current workforce will enter retirement in that time frame) to maintain our economy, and must reform our still rather strict immigration laws.

Second, during the sixties, we regained our industrial power by hiring massive numbers of workers in Italy and Turkey. In the nineties, some of our poorest counties in the west started to develop at the same time when a large number of German-Russians settled there. Now, these counties number among the wealthiest.

To thrive, we need immigration more than Russian gas and oil.

Third, the area with the lowest number of immigrants - the eastern states of both Germany and the EU - are the states with the highest level of xenophobia. (And homophobia. And transphobia. And Progressophobia in general. Polands' Law and Justice party even used vegetarism and bicycles as wedge issues.) Assholes will always be assholes, but I believe you can gradually reduce their number by (slowly) introducing a wider perspective to their offspring, and forcing them to contend with people they haad prejudices against. Slowly, because it can take decades to change how a culture thinks.

Fourth, the "European Left" isn't unified on this topic, either, voices and policies ranging from those you insinuate to outright xenophobic, populistic points of view.

Finally, I still must have missed the news when the US and it's willing allies announced paying reparations to those suffering from 30 years of military interventions in the Near East and Afghanistan.

What we instead should do is de-Americanizing our economy, doubling down on social capitalism, exorcising Black Rock as well as Russian oligarchs and oil sheiks from our markets. As well as countless other methods that have been proven useful in battling autoritarianism.

GMT -5 8032 said...

I have a good friend who grew up in Saudi Arabia. His dad worked for Aramco and he called himself an Aramco brat. He had loads of interesting stories, most of which I have forgotten. I need to get him on some Zoom calls and record them all.

David Brin said...

Oy! Der Oger did you hear of this putz?

Der Oger said...

Oy! Der Oger did you hear of this putz?

Yes. He was supposed to be the "regent" after the supposed coup.

David Brin said...

Interesting side notes about this pathetic "Prince Heinrich XIII" who preened at the center of Germany's equally pathetic, QAnon-inspired, January-6th-wannabe, abortive beer hall putsch to restore both feudalism and Nazism.

1. The "prince's" supposed line of male succession is pretty minor stuff. The nutter neo-Nazis weren't able to recruit a Prussian-Hohenzollern heir, or Habsburg, or Saxon or even Bavarian. Unlike Vlaimir Putin, who has been kissing the ring of the Romanov heir to the very same vile czars whom Vlad ritualistically chanted curses at, across the first half of his life. Now, as an "ex"-commissar who is using Soviet methods to rebuild Olde Russia, Putin waves czarist imperial escutcheons and erects statues to Nicholas II, the imbecile who first crushed all reformers and workers and then - with his equally idiotic cousin the Kaiser - plunged the hopeful beginnings of the 20th Century into hell and nightmare.

(Fascists seem to quite love royal figureheads. Mussolini, Franco, Tojo... and Hitler's on-off flirtation with the Prussian noble castes who had conspired to raise him from nothing.)

2. Thuringia is the minor 'principality' of that doofus, Heinrich XIII. The region is of interest to some sci fi fans because it is the setting of the Ring of Fire Series of the late (and lamented!) Eric Flint, that Eric gorgeously expanded with many co-authors into fun alternate universe wherein a West Virginia coal town from the year 2000 gets plopped into Thuringia in the year 1632. In that series, the Wettin ancestors of poor Heinrich are portrayed as having some brains. Alas, a balrog must've got into the wood pile.

3. And yes, this neo-monarchist crap is reviving all over, subsidized by petro-boyars, oil-sheiks, preppers and all sorts of inheritance brats, who bribe 'journalists' to publish articles about jibbering-loco court apologists. I describe this 'movement' of nasty, microcephalic poseurs here :

The good news is that the oligarchs pushing this nonsense truly do seem to have crap-for-brains and they hire dopes and flatterers, while the enlightenment can call upon modernity's finest. The bad news is that these would-be putschists are getting desperate, especially as one of the ring-leaders - Old Vlad - is shown to be no super-KGB chessmaster, after all. And any day now he may lose it, and spasm the world down paths that the preppers, despite all their fantasies, are no where near ready for. And that won't be anywhere near as fun as they imagine.

scidata said...

Although not a huge fan of Kuhn (he stubbornly holds onto the 'math is discovered' delusion no matter how many guests try to put him wise*), I enjoyed the interview with OGH. Reminiscent of Dawkins' "Unweaving the Rainbow" or Christopher Hitches' taunt about comparing the wonders of modern cosmology with silly bronze-age stories.

* The Stephen Wolfram interview was a perfect example.

Alan Brooks said...

Der Oger,
To what degree can bots do the jobs of skilled workers there?

Paradoctor said...

Is mathematics discovered or invented?
Answer: Yes!

Alfred Differ said...

Mathematics is language.
Structurally invented but its poetry is discovered.

Unknown said...

The crowd may have thinned out slightly, but Europe used to be thick with less-than-fully-employed scions just waiting around for the peasants and shopkeepers to realize they had all made a horrible mistake, starting with the French Revolution, and really NEEDED to bend the knee again.

I always thought of math as "unbolting the backplate of the machine to get to the wiring diagram", but I didn't get very far. I did have a college friend* who was deep into topology when I lost track of her, and who noted that her then-professor referred to God as "The Great Fascist."


*It's funny how you KNOW your old friends have aged as much as you have, but you still can't picture them as any different than when you last met...

Der Oger said...

To what degree can bots do the jobs of skilled workers there?

Industrial jobs may be replaced, those in healthcare and education not. And I somehow doubt that companies who refuse to pay decent wages and invest in technology already available will start to buy robots.

And the use of bots still needs some kind of skilled work ... just of a different kind.

duncan cairncross said...

To what degree can bots do the jobs of skilled workers there?

The most vulnerable workers are the "white collar" ones - the ones that use information

THEY are much easier to automate than people who move "stuff"

Alfred Differ said...

White collar folks have to become centaurs to survive in the labor market. It will happen to blue collars too. All of us.

DP said...

The best documentary ever on automation is Vice News "Future of Work"

It starts with an automated truck and ends with the effects of such technology on truck driver jobs.

It also has a contest between a senior legal partner and a law contract algorithm searching for contract mistakes. The algorithm wins hands down.

Any kind of rote work (truck driving, amazon warehouses, tax returns, contract law, etc.) can be easily automated.

It isn't white or blue collar work that is endangered, its rote work that is going to disappear and with it jobs for factory workers, truck divers, lawyers and accountants.

What is safe is creative work (architects, engineers, stone masons, other skilled professions, etc.)

Larry Hart said...


Is mathematics discovered or invented?

Is the sculpture inside of the marble block created or discovered?

scidata said...

In the end, automation will come for everyone except those who truly grok computation at a fundamental (natural) level (ie. from first principles). It doesn't have to be their main profession, but it does have to be part of their internal operating system. Whether or not Johnny can code is less important than whether or not Johnny can think computationally. Not like a robot does, but like a scientist does.

Modern programming languages and national education efforts at this so far have been laughable (or lamentable). That's because the focus is always on enhancing the machines's ability to comprehend the user. Completely backwards. It's like trying to make pulsars friendlier or putting mickey mouse on clocks.

"I couldn't tell you in any detail how my computer works. I use it with a layer of automation." - Conrad Wolfram

Larry Hart said...

Breaking news, Senator Krysten Sinema is no longer a Democrat.

In other news, water is wet and the sun probably came up this morning (although Chicago hasn't seen it for several days).

Larry Hart said...


"I couldn't tell you in any detail how my computer works. I use it with a layer of automation." - Conrad Wolfram

Because I work in information technology, my mom thinks I know how to fix her computer hardware. I tell her that it's as if I'm a cab driver by trade and you want me to tune your engine.

Larry Hart said...


Further, the very best evidence that an idea is stupid is that Tucker Carlson embraced it.

Larry Hart said...


So much for that, however, as the coup was ended before it could ever start. Yesterday, the German government arrested Heinrich XIII, who it appears will soon be known as Heinrich 20 to life.

Unknown said...

News note - Iran just started executing protestors.


DP said...

>Is the sculpture inside of the marble block created or discovered?

Created, there is nothing inherently recognizable in a block of marble.

However, pi would still exist in the ration between circumference and diameter of a circle even if no mathematician discovered it.

Mathematics is discovered.

scidata said...

Re: mathematics
If you list a few axioms, then construct a magnificent, powerful structure using logic and imagination, is that 'discovery'?. No. Especially if/when your axioms change/fail. Seeing patterns in Nature (eg. Pi, Fibonacci) doesn't mean that those are features of Nature. It means that you've crafted a useful and appropriate structure (tool). If another mind sees the same patterns, it merely means that similar pathways have been walked, not that a fundamental truth has been discovered. Also, definitions (the most eternal things in math) are not even axioms.

David Brin said...