Monthly Archives: September 2011

Purity, Race and Robustness

There’s a saying that if you add a cup of wine to a barrel of sewage you have a barrel of sewage, and if you add a cup of sewage to a barrel of wine you have a barrel of … Continue reading

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More on Superluminal Neutrinos

The pre-print of the CERN paper is available, and there are a number of places where one might go looking for the missing 60 ns. One of them is in new physics, but that isn’t the most likely place to … Continue reading

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Some Notes on Neutrinos

The Web is all a-twitter about superluminal neutrinos at CERN, but scientists are skeptical. There’s an archetypal scene in a particular kind of bad science movie in which the hero runs in to a seminar and announces something to the … Continue reading

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Some Notes on Insanity

First, two important facts about me: I’m not an expert on the Middle East, and I’m not a professional pundit. The second fact means that I’m capable of understanding the implications of the first fact. I have no clue how … Continue reading

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All Else Being Equal

The proposition that we can change one aspect of a system while leaving everything else exactly the same is one of the most important falsehoods in the arsenal of inaccurate thinkers everywhere. Like most such propositions, it has a narrow … Continue reading

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Some Notes on Tautologies

Philosophers routinely and uncritically proclaim that tautologies are ontologically vacuous. Since I’ve claimed to be a bit of a Kantian, and the analytic-synthetic dichotomy is a classical Kantian mistake, it seems worth taking a bit of time to explain what’s … Continue reading

Posted in epistemology, god, mechanics, physics, probability, quantum, religion, science | 46 Comments

Some Notes on Causality

Causality, like pornography, is one of those things that people have trouble defining, although they have a deeply ingrained feeling that they’ll know it when they see it. Aristotle talked about four types of causality: formal, material, efficient and final. … Continue reading

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The Nature of Existence

The Greeks had a word for it, although I’m not entirely sure what it was. The name “metaphysics” is taken from the book that was bound “after Physics” in some early collection of Aristotle’s work. At least that’s the story. … Continue reading

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The Nature of Time

We live in a four-dimensional world in which the three spacial dimensions and time stand in a particular geometric relation to each other. This is not news. We’ve known this for over a century, and the people who made the … Continue reading

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Some Notes on Memory

One of the many big lessons of science in the past three hundred years is what odd and unreliable organs our brains are. I know mine is. I forget things. People’s names, where I put my glasses, the fact that … Continue reading

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