nhaliday + ๐Ÿ”ฌ   190

Reverse salients | West Hunter
Edison thought in terms of reverse salients and critical problems.

โ€œReverse salients are areas of research and development that are lagging in some obvious way behind the general line of advance. Critical problems are the research questions, cast in terms of the concrete particulars of currently available knowledge and technique and of specific exemplars or models that are solvable and whose solutions would eliminate the reverse salients. โ€

What strikes you as as important current example of a reverse salient, and the associated critical problem or problems?
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10 weeks ago by nhaliday
Theory of Self-Reproducing Automata - John von Neumann

Comparisons between computing machines and the nervous systems. Estimates of size for computing machines, present and near future.

Estimates for size for the human central nervous system. Excursus about the โ€œmixedโ€ character of living organisms. Analog and digital elements. Observations about the โ€œmixedโ€ character of all componentry, artificial as well as natural. Interpretation of the position to be taken with respect to these.

Evaluation of the discrepancy in size between artificial and natural automata. Interpretation of this discrepancy in terms of physical factors. Nature of the materials used.

The probability of the presence of other intellectual factors. The role of complication and the theoretical penetration that it requires.

Questions of reliability and errors reconsidered. Probability of individual errors and length of procedure. Typical lengths of procedure for computing machines and for living organisms--that is, for artificial and for natural automata. Upper limits on acceptable probability of error in individual operations. Compensation by checking and self-correcting features.

Differences of principle in the way in which errors are dealt with in artificial and in natural automata. The โ€œsingle errorโ€ principle in artificial automata. Crudeness of our approach in this case, due to the lack of adequate theory. More sophisticated treatment of this problem in natural automata: The role of the autonomy of parts. Connections between this autonomy and evolution.

- 10^10 neurons in brain, 10^4 vacuum tubes in largest computer at time
- machines faster: 5 ms from neuron potential to neuron potential, 10^-3 ms for vacuum tubes

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april 2018 by nhaliday
Eternity in six hours: intergalactic spreading of intelligent life and sharpening the Fermi paradox
We do this by demonstrating that traveling between galaxies โ€“ indeed even launching a colonisation project for the entire reachable universe โ€“ is a relatively simple task for a star-spanning civilization, requiring modest amounts of energy and resources. We start by demonstrating that humanity itself could likely accomplish such a colonisation project in the foreseeable future, should we want to, and then demonstrate that there are millions of galaxies that could have reached us by now, using similar methods. This results in a considerable sharpening of the Fermi paradox.
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march 2018 by nhaliday
Prisoner's dilemma - Wikipedia
caveat to result below:
An extension of the IPD is an evolutionary stochastic IPD, in which the relative abundance of particular strategies is allowed to change, with more successful strategies relatively increasing. This process may be accomplished by having less successful players imitate the more successful strategies, or by eliminating less successful players from the game, while multiplying the more successful ones. It has been shown that unfair ZD strategies are not evolutionarily stable. The key intuition is that an evolutionarily stable strategy must not only be able to invade another population (which extortionary ZD strategies can do) but must also perform well against other players of the same type (which extortionary ZD players do poorly, because they reduce each other's surplus).[14]

Theory and simulations confirm that beyond a critical population size, ZD extortion loses out in evolutionary competition against more cooperative strategies, and as a result, the average payoff in the population increases when the population is bigger. In addition, there are some cases in which extortioners may even catalyze cooperation by helping to break out of a face-off between uniform defectors and winโ€“stay, loseโ€“switch agents.[8]

Nature boils down to a few simple concepts.

Haters will point out that I oversimplify. The haters are wrong. I am good at saying a lot with few words. Nature indeed boils down to a few simple concepts.

In life, you can either cooperate or defect.

Used to be that defection was the dominant strategy, say in the time when the Roman empire started to crumble. Everybody complained about everybody and in the end nothing got done. Then came Jesus, who told people to be loving and cooperative, and boom: 1800 years later we get the industrial revolution.

Because of Jesus we now find ourselves in a situation where cooperation is the dominant strategy. A normie engages in a ton of cooperation: with the tax collector who wants more and more of his money, with schools who want more and more of his kidโ€™s time, with media who wants him to repeat more and more party lines, with the Zeitgeist of the Collective Spirit of the Peopleโ€™s Progress Towards a New Utopia. Essentially, our normie is cooperating himself into a crumbling Western empire.

Turns out that if everyone blindly cooperates, parasites sprout up like weeds until defection once again becomes the standard.

The point of a post-Christian religion is to once again create conditions for the kind of cooperation that led to the industrial revolution. This necessitates throwing out undead Christianity: you do not blindly cooperate. You cooperate with people that cooperate with you, you defect on people that defect on you. Christianity mixed with Darwinism. God and Gnon meet.

This also means we re-establish spiritual hierarchy, which, like regular hierarchy, is a prerequisite for cooperation. It is this hierarchical cooperation that turns a household into a force to be reckoned with, that allows a group of men to unite as a front against their enemies, that allows a tribe to conquer the world. Remember: Scientology bullied the Cathedralโ€™s tax department into submission.

With a functioning hierarchy, men still gossip, lie and scheme, but they will do so in whispers behind closed doors. In your face they cooperate and contribute to the groupโ€™s wellbeing because incentives are thus that contributing to group wellbeing heightens status.

Without a functioning hierarchy, men gossip, lie and scheme, but they do so in your face, and they tell you that you are positively deluded for accusing them of gossiping, lying and scheming. Seeds will not sprout in such ground.

Spiritual dominance is established in the same way any sort of dominance is established: fought for, taken. But the fight is ritualistic. You canโ€™t force spiritual dominance if no one listens, or if you are silenced the ritual is not allowed to happen.

If one of our priests is forbidden from establishing spiritual dominance, that is a sure sign an enemy priest is in better control and has vested interest in preventing you from establishing spiritual dominance..

They defect on you, you defect on them. Let them suffer the consequences of enemy priesthood, among others characterized by the annoying tendency that very little is said with very many words.

To recap, we started with a secular definition of Logos and noted that its telos is existence. Given human nature, game theory and the power of cooperation, the highest expression of that telos is freely chosen universal love, tempered by constant vigilance against defection while maintaining compassion for the defectors and forgiving those who repent. In addition, we must know the telos in order to fulfill it.

In Christian terms, looks like we got over half of the Ten Commandments (know Logos for the First, donโ€™t defect or tempt yourself to defect for the rest), the importance of free will, the indestructibility of evil (group cooperation vs individual defection), loving the sinner and hating the sin (with defection as the sin), forgiveness (with conditions), and love and compassion toward all, assuming only secular knowledge and that itโ€™s good to exist.

Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma is an Ultimatum Game: http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2012/07/iterated-prisoners-dilemma-is-ultimatum.html
The history of IPD shows that bounded cognition prevented the dominant strategies from being discovered for over over 60 years, despite significant attention from game theorists, computer scientists, economists, evolutionary biologists, etc. Press and Dyson have shown that IPD is effectively an ultimatum game, which is very different from the Tit for Tat stories told by generations of people who worked on IPD (Axelrod, Dawkins, etc., etc.).


For evolutionary biologists: Dyson clearly thinks this result has implications for multilevel (group vs individual selection):
... Cooperation loses and defection wins. The ZD strategies confirm this conclusion and make it sharper. ... The system evolved to give cooperative tribes an advantage over non-cooperative tribes, using punishment to give cooperation an evolutionary advantage within the tribe. This double selection of tribes and individuals goes way beyond the Prisoners' Dilemma model.

implications for fractionalized Europe vis-a-vis unified China?

and more broadly does this just imply we're doomed in the long run RE: cooperation, morality, the "good society", so on...? war and group-selection is the only way to get a non-crab bucket civilization?

Iterated Prisonerโ€™s Dilemma contains strategies that dominate any evolutionary opponent:


analogy for ultimatum game: the state gives the demos a bargain take-it-or-leave-it, and...if the demos refuses...violence?

The nature of human altruism: http://sci-hub.tw/https://www.nature.com/articles/nature02043
- Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher

Some of the most fundamental questions concerning our evolutionary origins, our social relations, and the organization of society are centred around issues of altruism and selfishness. Experimental evidence indicates that human altruism is a powerful force and is unique in the animal world. However, there is much individual heterogeneity and the interaction between altruists and selfish individuals is vital to human cooperation. Depending on the environment, a minority of altruists can force a majority of selfish individuals to cooperate or, conversely, a few egoists can induce a large number of altruists to defect. Current gene-based evolutionary theories cannot explain important patterns of human altruism, pointing towards the importance of both theories of cultural evolution as well as geneโ€“culture co-evolution.


Why are humans so unusual among animals in this respect? We propose that quantitatively, and probably even qualitatively, unique patterns of human altruism provide the answer to this question. Human altruism goes far beyond that which has been observed in the animal world. Among animals, fitness-reducing acts that confer fitness benefits on other individuals are largely restricted to kin groups; despite several decades of research, evidence for reciprocal altruism in pair-wise repeated encounters4,5 remains scarce6โ€“8. Likewise, there is little evidence so far that individual reputation building affects cooperation in animals, which contrasts strongly with what we find in humans. If we randomly pick two human strangers from a modern society and give them the chance to engage in repeated anonymous exchanges in a laboratory experiment, there is a high probability that reciprocally altruistic behaviour will emerge spontaneously9,10.

However, human altruism extends far beyond reciprocal altruism and reputation-based cooperation, taking the form of strong reciprocity11,12. Strong reciprocity is a combination of altruistic rewarding, which is a predisposition to reward others for cooperative, norm-abiding behaviours, and altruistic punishment, which is a propensity to impose sanctions on others for norm violations. Strong reciprocators bear the cost of rewarding or punishing even if they gain no individual economic benefit whatsoever from their acts. In contrast, reciprocal altruists, as they have been defined in the biological literature4,5, reward and punish only if this is in their long-term self-interest. Strong reciprocity thus constitutes a powerful incentive for cooperation even in non-repeated interactions and when reputation gains are absent, because strong reciprocators will reward those who cooperate and punish those who defect.


We will show that the interaction between selfish and strongly reciprocal โ€ฆ [more]
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march 2018 by nhaliday
Fermi paradox - Wikipedia
Rare Earth hypothesis: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rare_Earth_hypothesis
Fine-tuned Universe: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fine-tuned_Universe
something to keep in mind:
Puddle theory is a term coined by Douglas Adams to satirize arguments that the universe is made for man.[54][55] As stated in Adams' book The Salmon of Doubt:[56]
Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, โ€œThis is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact, it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!โ€ This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it's still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be all right, because this World was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for.
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january 2018 by nhaliday
Books 2017 | West Hunter
Arabian Sands
The Aryans
The Big Show
The Camel and the Wheel
Civil War on Western Waters
Company Commander
Double-edged Secrets
The Forgotten Soldier
Genes in Conflict
Hive Mind
The horse, the wheel, and language
The Penguin Atlas of Medieval History
Habitable Planets for Man
The genetical theory of natural selection
The Rise of the Greeks
To Lose a Battle
The Jewish War
Tropical Gangsters
The Forgotten Revolution
Egilโ€™s Saga
Time Patrol

Russo: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/12/14/books-2017/#comment-98568
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december 2017 by nhaliday
Darwinian medicine - Randolph Nesse
The Dawn of Darwinian Medicine: https://sci-hub.tw/https://www.jstor.org/stable/2830330
TABLE 1 Examples of the use of the theory of natural selection to predict the existence of phenomena otherwise unsuspected
TABLE 2 A classification of phenomena associated with infectious disease
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november 2017 by nhaliday
Career Options for Scientists
Most PhD students in the biological sciences will not go on to become academics. For these individuals, choosing the best career path can be difficult. Fortunately, there are many options that allow them to take advantage of skills they hone during graduate and postdoctoral work.

The declining interest in an academic career: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0184130
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september 2017 by nhaliday
Muscle, steam and combustion
Vaclav Smilโ€™s Energy and Civilization is a monumental history of how humanity has harnessed muscle, steam and combustion to build palaces and skyscrapers, light the night and land on the Moon. Want to learn about the number of labourers needed to build Egyptโ€™s pyramids of Giza, or US inventor Thomas Edisonโ€™s battles with Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse to electrify homes and cities, or the upscaling of power stations and blast furnaces in the twentieth century? Look no further.
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august 2017 by nhaliday
Predicting the outcomes of organic reactions via machine learning: are current descriptors sufficient? | Scientific Reports
As machine learning/artificial intelligence algorithms are defeating chess masters and, most recently, GO champions, there is interest โ€“ and hope โ€“ that they will prove equally useful in assisting chemists in predicting outcomes of organic reactions. This paper demonstrates, however, that the applicability of machine learning to the problems of chemical reactivity over diverse types of chemistries remains limited โ€“ in particular, with the currently available chemical descriptors, fundamental mathematical theorems impose upper bounds on the accuracy with which raction yields and times can be predicted. Improving the performance of machine-learning methods calls for the development of fundamentally new chemical descriptors.
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july 2017 by nhaliday
Alzheimers | West Hunter
Some disease syndromes almost have to be caused by pathogens โ€“ for example, any with a fitness impact (prevalence x fitness reduction) > 2% or so, too big to be caused by mutational pressure. I donโ€™t think that this is the case for AD: it hits so late in life that the fitness impact is minimal. However, that hardly means that it canโ€™t be caused by a pathogen or pathogens โ€“ a big fraction of all disease syndromes are, including many that strike in old age. That possibility is always worth checking out, not least because infectious diseases are generally easier to prevent and/or treat.

There is new work that strongly suggests that pathogens are the root cause. It appears that the amyloid is an antimicrobial peptide. amyloid-beta binds to invading microbes and then surrounds and entraps them. โ€˜When researchers injected Salmonella into miceโ€™s hippocampi, a brain area damaged in Alzheimerโ€™s, A-beta quickly sprang into action. It swarmed the bugs and formed aggregates called fibrils and plaques. โ€œOvernight you see the plaques throughout the hippocampus where the bugs were, and then in each single plaque is a single bacterium,โ€ Tanzi says. โ€˜

obesity and pathogens: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2016/05/29/alzheimers/#comment-79757
not sure about this guy, but interesting: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2016/05/29/alzheimers/#comment-79748

All too often we see large, long-lasting research efforts that never produce, never achieve their goal.

For example, the amyloid hypothesis [accumulation of amyloid-beta oligomers is the cause of Alzheimers] has been dominant for more than 20 years, and has driven development of something like 15 drugs. None of them have worked. At the same time the well-known increased risk from APOe4 has been almost entirely ignored, even though it ought to be a clue to the cause.

In general, when a research effort has been spinning its wheels for a generation or more, shouldnโ€™t we try something different? We could at least try putting a fraction of those research dollars into alternative approaches that have not yet failed repeatedly.

Mostly this applies to research efforts that at least wish they were science. โ€˜educational researchโ€™ is in a special class, and I hardly know what to recommend. Most of the remedial actions that occur to me violate one or more of the Geneva conventions.

APOe4 related to lymphatic system: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apolipoprotein_E

Look,if I could find out the sort of places that I usually misplace my keys โ€“ if I did, which I donโ€™t โ€“ I could find the keys more easily the next time I lose them. If you find out that practitioners of a given field are not very competent, it marks that field as a likely place to look for relatively easy discovery. Thus medicine is a promising field, because on the whole doctors are not terribly good investigators. For example, none of the drugs developed for Alzheimers have worked at all, which suggests that our ideas on the causation of Alzheimers are likely wrong. Which suggests that it may (repeat may) be possible to make good progress on Alzheimers, either by an entirely empirical approach, which is way underrated nowadays, or by dumping the current explanation, finding a better one, and applying it.

You could start by looking at basic notions of field X and asking yourself: How do we really know that? Is there serious statistical evidence? Does that notion even accord with basic theory? This sort of checking is entirely possible. In most of the social sciences, we donโ€™t, there isnโ€™t, and it doesnโ€™t.

Hygiene and the world distribution of Alzheimerโ€™s disease: Epidemiological evidence for a relationship between microbial environment and age-adjusted disease burden: https://academic.oup.com/emph/article/2013/1/173/1861845/Hygiene-and-the-world-distribution-of-Alzheimer-s

Amyloid-ฮฒ peptide protects against microbial infection in mouse and worm models of Alzheimerโ€™s disease: http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/8/340/340ra72

Fungus, the bogeyman: http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21676754-curious-result-hints-possibility-dementia-caused-fungal
Fungus and dementia
paper: http://www.nature.com/articles/srep15015
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july 2017 by nhaliday
- the genetic book of the dead [Dawkins]
- complementarity [Frank Wilczek]
- relative information
- effective theory [Lisa Randall]
- affordances [Dennett]
- spontaneous symmetry breaking
- relatedly, equipoise [Nicholas Christakis]
- case-based reasoning
- population reasoning (eg, common law)
- criticality [Cesar Hidalgo]
- Haldan's law of the right size (!SCALE!)
- polygenic scores
- non-ergodic
- ansatz
- state [Aaronson]: http://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=3075
- transfer learning
- effect size
- satisficing
- scaling
- the breeder's equation [Greg Cochran]
- impedance matching

- reciprocal altruism
- life history [Plomin]
- intellectual honesty [Sam Harris]
- coalitional instinct (interesting claim: building coalitions around "rationality" actually makes it more difficult to update on new evidence as it makes you look like a bad person, eg, the Cathedral)
basically same: https://twitter.com/ortoiseortoise/status/903682354367143936

more: https://www.edge.org/conversation/john_tooby-coalitional-instincts

interesting timing. how woke is this dude?
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may 2017 by nhaliday
[1705.03394] That is not dead which can eternal lie: the aestivation hypothesis for resolving Fermi's paradox
If a civilization wants to maximize computation it appears rational to aestivate until the far future in order to exploit the low temperature environment: this can produce a 10^30 multiplier of achievable computation. We hence suggest the "aestivation hypothesis": the reason we are not observing manifestations of alien civilizations is that they are currently (mostly) inactive, patiently waiting for future cosmic eras. This paper analyzes the assumptions going into the hypothesis and how physical law and observational evidence constrain the motivations of aliens compatible with the hypothesis.


simpler explanation (just different math for Drake equation):
Dissolving the Fermi Paradox: http://www.jodrellbank.manchester.ac.uk/media/eps/jodrell-bank-centre-for-astrophysics/news-and-events/2017/uksrn-slides/Anders-Sandberg---Dissolving-Fermi-Paradox-UKSRN.pdf
Overall the argument is that point estimates should not be shoved into a Drake equation and then multiplied by each, as that requires excess certainty and masks much of the ambiguity of our knowledge about the distributions. Instead, a Bayesian approach should be used, after which the fate of humanity looks much better. Here is one part of the presentation:

Life Versus Dark Energy: How An Advanced Civilization Could Resist the Accelerating Expansion of the Universe: https://arxiv.org/abs/1806.05203
The presence of dark energy in our universe is causing space to expand at an accelerating rate. As a result, over the next approximately 100 billion years, all stars residing beyond the Local Group will fall beyond the cosmic horizon and become not only unobservable, but entirely inaccessible, thus limiting how much energy could one day be extracted from them. Here, we consider the likely response of a highly advanced civilization to this situation. In particular, we argue that in order to maximize its access to useable energy, a sufficiently advanced civilization would chose to expand rapidly outward, build Dyson Spheres or similar structures around encountered stars, and use the energy that is harnessed to accelerate those stars away from the approaching horizon and toward the center of the civilization. We find that such efforts will be most effective for stars with masses in the range of Mโˆผ(0.2โˆ’1)MโŠ™, and could lead to the harvesting of stars within a region extending out to several tens of Mpc in radius, potentially increasing the total amount of energy that is available to a future civilization by a factor of several thousand. We also discuss the observable signatures of a civilization elsewhere in the universe that is currently in this state of stellar harvesting.
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may 2017 by nhaliday
Lucio Russo - Wikipedia
In The Forgotten Revolution: How Science Was Born in 300 BC and Why It Had to Be Reborn (Italian: La rivoluzione dimenticata), Russo promotes the belief that Hellenistic science in the period 320-144 BC reached heights not achieved by Classical age science, and proposes that it went further than ordinarily thought, in multiple fields not normally associated with ancient science.

La Rivoluzione Dimenticata (The Forgotten Revolution), Reviewed by Sandro Graffi: http://www.ams.org/notices/199805/review-graffi.pdf

Before turning to the question of the decline of Hellenistic science, I come back to the new light shed by the book on Euclidโ€™s Elements and on pre-Ptolemaic astronomy. Euclidโ€™s definitions of the elementary geometric entitiesโ€”point, straight line, planeโ€”at the beginning of the Elements have long presented a problem.7 Their nature is in sharp contrast with the approach taken in the rest of the book, and continued by mathematicians ever since, of refraining from defining the fundamental entities explicitly but limiting themselves to postulating the properties which they enjoy. Why should Euclid be so hopelessly obscure right at the beginning and so smooth just after? The answer is: the definitions are not Euclidโ€™s. Toward the beginning of the second century A.D. Heron of Alexandria found it convenient to introduce definitions of the elementary objects (a sign of decadence!) in his commentary on Euclidโ€™s Elements, which had been written at least 400 years before. All manuscripts of the Elements copied ever since included Heronโ€™s definitions without mention, whence their attribution to Euclid himself. The philological evidence leading to this conclusion is quite convincing.8


What about the general and steady (on the average) impoverishment of Hellenistic science under the Roman empire? This is a major historical problem, strongly tied to the even bigger one of the decline and fall of the antique civilization itself. I would summarize the authorโ€™s argument by saying that it basically represents an application to science of a widely accepted general theory on decadence of antique civilization going back to Max Weber. Roman society, mainly based on slave labor, underwent an ultimately unrecoverable crisis as the traditional sources of that labor force, essentially wars, progressively dried up. To save basic farming, the remaining slaves were promoted to be serfs, and poor free peasants reduced to serfdom, but this made trade disappear. A society in which production is almost entirely based on serfdom and with no trade clearly has very little need of culture, including science and technology. As Max Weber pointed out, when trade vanished, so did the marble splendor of the ancient towns, as well as the spiritual assets that went with it: art, literature, science, and sophisticated commercial laws. The recovery of Hellenistic science then had to wait until the disappearance of serfdom at the end of the Middle Ages. To quote Max Weber: โ€œOnly then with renewed vigor did the old giant rise up again.โ€


The epilogue contains the (rather pessimistic) views of the author on the future of science, threatened by the apparent triumph of todayโ€™s vogue of irrationality even in leading institutions (e.g., an astrology professorship at the Sorbonne). He looks at todayโ€™s ever-increasing tendency to teach science more on a fideistic than on a deductive or experimental basis as the first sign of a decline which could be analogous to the post-Hellenistic one.

Praising Alexandrians to excess: https://sci-hub.tw/10.1088/2058-7058/17/4/35
The Economic Record review: https://sci-hub.tw/10.1111/j.1475-4932.2004.00203.x

listed here: https://pinboard.in/u:nhaliday/b:c5c09f2687c1

Was Roman Science in Decline? (Excerpt from My New Book): https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/13477
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may 2017 by nhaliday
Lost and Found | West Hunter
I get the distinct impression that someone (probably someone other than Varro) came up with an approximation of germ theory 1500 years before Girolamo Fracastoro. But his work was lost.

Everybody knows, or should know, that the vast majority of Classical literature has not been preserved. Those lost works contained facts and ideas that might have value today โ€“ certainly there are topics that we understand much better because of insights from Classical literature. For example, Reich and Patterson find that some of the Indian castes have existed for something like three thousand years: this is easier to believe when you consider that Megasthenes wrote about the caste system as early as 300 BC.

We donโ€™t put much effort into recovering lost Classical literature. But there are ways in which we could push harder โ€“ by increased funding for work on the Herculaneum scrolls, or the Oxyrhynchus papyri collection, for example. Some old-fashioned motivated archaeology might get lucky and find another set of Amarna cuneiform letters, or a new Antikythera mechanism.

Here we have yet another case in which a discovery was possible for a long time before it was actually accepted. Aristotle is the villain here: he clearly endorses spontaneous generation of many plants and animals. On the other hand, I donโ€™t remember him saying that people should accept all of his conclusions uncritically and without further experimentation for the next couple of thousand years, which is what happened. So maybe weโ€™re all guilty.


Part of the funny here (not even counting practical experience) is that almost every educated man over these two millennia had read, and indeed studied deeply, a work with a fairly clear statement of the actual fly->egg->maggot->fly process. As I as I can tell, only one person (Redi) seems to have picked up on this.

โ€œBut the more Achilles gazed, the greater rose his desire for vengeance, and his eyes flashed terribly, like coals beneath his lids, as he lifted the godโ€™s marvellous gifts and exulted. When he had looked his fill on their splendour, he spoke to Thetis winged words; โ€˜Mother, the god grants me a gift fit for the immortals, such as no mortal smith could fashion. Now I shall arm myself for war. Yet I fear lest flies infest the wounds the bronze blades made, and maggots breed in the corpse of brave Patroclus, and now his life is fled, rot the flesh, and disfigure all his body.โ€™ โ€

Youโ€™d think a blind man would have noticed this.

Anyhow, the lesson is clear. Low hanging fruit can persist for a long time if the conventional wisdom is wrong โ€“ and sometimes it is.


Transmission of the Greek Classics: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transmission_of_the_Greek_Classics

By way of comparison, the complete Loeb Classical Library (which includes all the important classical texts) has 337 volumes for Ancient Greek --- and those aren't 100,000 word-long door-stoppers.
$65/year for individuals (I wonder if public libraries have subscriptions?)


1/ Thinking about what Steven Greenblatt described in The Swerve as a mass extinction of ancient books (we have little of what they wrote)
2/ If I could go back in time to, say, 100 AD or 200 AD I would go with simple tech for making books last for a thousand years. Possible?

Iโ€™ve put a lot of content out there over the years. Probably on the order of 5 million words across my blogs. Some publications here and there. Lots of tweets. But very little of it will persist into future generations. Digital is evanescent.

But so is paper. I believe that even good hardcover books probably wonโ€™t last more than a few hundred years.

Perhaps we should go back to some form of cuneiform? Stone and metal will last thousands of years.

How long does a paperback book last?: https://www.quora.com/How-long-does-a-paperback-book-last

A 500 years vault for books?: https://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/137583/a-500-years-vault-for-books
There are about four solutions that have actually worked in history

1. The desert method
2. Give them to an institution which will preserve them
3. The opposite of secrecy: duplicate them extensively

4. Transcribe them to durable materials

It is hard to keep books for a really long time because paper, parchment and papyrus are easily destroyed. However books have been produced on much more durable materials. Nowadays a holographic copy can be laser etched into stainless steel. In Sumer, 5300 years ago they pressed them into clay tablets. If the document was important, they fired the clay; otherwise they just let it dry. The fired versions are close to indestructible.
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may 2017 by nhaliday
Interview: Mostly Sealing Wax | West Hunter

- conformity and Google, defense and spying (China knows prob almost all our "secrets")
- in the past you could just find new things faster than people could reverse-engineer. part of the problem is that innovation is slowing down today (part of the reason for convergence by China/developing world).
- introgression from archaics of various kinds
- mutational load and IQ, wrath of khan neanderthal
- trade and antiquity (not that useful besides ideas tbh), Roman empire, disease, smallpox
- spices needed to be grown elsewhere, but besides that...
- analogy: caste system in India (why no Brahmin car repairmen?), slavery in Greco-Roman times, more water mills in medieval times (rivers better in north, but still could have done it), new elite not liking getting hands dirty, low status of engineers, rise of finance
- crookery in finance, hedge fund edge might be substantially insider trading
- long-term wisdom of moving all manufacturing to China...?
- economic myopia: British financialization before WW1 vis-a-vis Germany. North vs. South and cotton/industry, camels in Middle East vs. wagons in Europe
- Western medicine easier to convert to science than Eastern, pseudoscience and wrong theories better than bag of recipes
- Greeks definitely knew some things that were lost (eg, line in Pliny makes reference to combinatorics calculation rediscovered by German dude much later. think he's referring to Catalan numbers?), Lucio Russo book
- Indo-Europeans, Western Europe, Amerindians, India, British Isles, gender, disease, and conquest
- no farming (Dark Age), then why were people still farming on Shetland Islands north of Scotland?
- "symbolic" walls, bodies with arrows
- family stuff, children learning, talking dog, memory and aging
- Chinese/Japanese writing difficulty and children learning to read
- Hatfield-McCoy feud: the McCoy family was actually a case study in a neurological journal. they had anger management issues because of cancers of their adrenal gland (!!).

the Chinese know...: https://macropolo.org/casting-off-real-beijings-cryptic-warnings-finance-taking-economy/
Over the last couple of years, a cryptic idiom has crept into the way Chinaโ€™s top leaders talk about risks in the countryโ€™s financial system: tuo shi xiang xu (่„ฑๅฎžๅ‘่™š), which loosely translates as โ€œcasting off the real for the empty.โ€ Premier Li Keqiang warned against it at his press conference at the end of the 2016 National Peopleโ€™s Congress (NPC). At this yearโ€™s NPC, Li inserted this very expression into his annual work report. And in April, while on an inspection tour of Guangxi, President Xi Jinping used the term, saying that China must โ€œunceasingly promote industrial modernization, raise the level of manufacturing, and not allow the real to be cast off for the empty.โ€

Such an odd turn of phrase is easy to overlook, but it belies concerns about a significant shift in the way that Chinaโ€™s economy works. What Xi and Li were warning against is typically called financialization in developed economies. Itโ€™s when โ€œrealโ€ companiesโ€”industrial firms, manufacturers, utility companies, property developers, and anyone else that produces a tangible product or serviceโ€”take their money and, rather than put it back into their businesses, invest it in โ€œemptyโ€, or speculative, assets. It occurs when the returns on financial investments outstrip those in the real economy, leading to a disproportionate amount of money being routed into the financial system.
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may 2017 by nhaliday
Genetically engineered humans will arrive sooner than you think. And we're not ready. - Vox
lol "epigenetics" makes an appearance ofc


For now, thatโ€™s prohibitively expensive, but it wonโ€™t always be that way. In 2003, it cost 4 dollars to press one of the keys on Endyโ€™s hypothetical synthesizer. This month, it costs just two centsโ€”a 200-fold decrease in price in just 14 years. In the same time frame, the cost of tuition at Stanford has doubled, and is now around $50,000. Given all of that, the first question that Stanfordโ€™s budding bioengineers get is this:

At what point will the cost of printing DNA to create a human equal the cost of teaching a student in Stanford?
And the answer is: 19 years from today.

But the follow-up question is a little more complicated:

If you and your future partner are planning to have kids, would you start saving money for college tuition, or for printing the genome of your offspring?
The question tends to split students down the line, says Endy. About 60 percent say that printing a genome is wrong, and flies against what it means to be a parent. They prize the special nature of education and would opt to save for the tuition. But around 40 percent of the class will say that the value of education may change in the future, and if genetic technology becomes mature, and allows them to secure advantages for them and their lineage, they might as well do that.


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may 2017 by nhaliday
One more time | West Hunter
One of our local error sources suggested that it would be impossible to rebuild technical civilization, once fallen. Now if every human were dead Iโ€™d agree, but in most other scenarios it wouldnโ€™t be particularly difficult, assuming that the survivors were no more silly and fractious than people are today.ย  So assume a mild disaster, something like the effect of myxomatosis on the rabbits of Australia, or perhaps toe-to-toe nuclear combat with the Russkis โ€“ ~90%ย  casualties worldwide.

Books are everywhere. In the type of scenario I sketched out, almost no knowledge would be lost โ€“ so Neolithic tech is irrelevant. Look, if a single copy of the 1911 Britannica survived, all would be well.

You could of course harvest metals from the old cities. But even if if you didnโ€™t, the idea that there is no more copper or zinc or tin in the ground is just silly. โ€œrecoverable oreโ€ is mostly an economic concept.

Moreover, if weโ€™re talking wiring and electrical uses, one can use aluminum, which makes up 8% of the Earthโ€™s crust.

Some of those book tell you how to win.

Look, assume that some communities strive to relearn how to make automatic weapons and some donโ€™t. How does that story end? Do I have to explain everything?

I guess so!

Well, perhaps having a zillion times more books around would make a difference. That and all the โ€œX for Dummiesโ€ books, which I think the Romans didnโ€™t have.

A lot of Classical civ wasnโ€™t very useful: on the whole they didnโ€™t invent much. On the whole, technology advanced quite a bit more rapidly in Medieval times.

How much coal and oil are in the ground that can still be extracted with 19th century tech? Honest question; I donโ€™t know.
Lots of coal left. Not so much oil (using simple methods), but one could make it from low-grade coal, with the Fischer-Tropsch process. Sasol does this.

Then again, a recovering society wouldnโ€™t need much at first.

reply to: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2015/05/17/one-more-time/#comment-69220
Thatโ€™s more like it.

#1. Consider Grand Coulee Dam. Gigawatts. Feeling of power!
#2. Of course.
#3. Might be easier to make superconducting logic circuits with MgB2, starting over.

Your typical biker guy is more mechanically minded than the average Joe. Welding, electrical stuff, this and that.

If fossil fuels were unavailable -or just uneconomical at first- weโ€™d be back to charcoal for our Stanley Steamers and railroads. Weโ€™d still have both.

The French, and others, used wood-gasifier trucks during WWII.

Teslas are of course a joke.
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may 2017 by nhaliday
Chinese innovations | West Hunter
Iโ€™m interested in hearing about significant innovations out of contemporary China. Good ones. Ideas, inventions, devices, dreams. Throw in Outer China (Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore).

super nationalistic dude ("IC") in the comments section (wish his videos had subtitles):

on the carrier-killer missiles: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/05/10/chinese-innovations/#comment-91280
You could take out a carrier task force with a nuke 60 years ago.
Then the other side can nuke something and point to the sunk carrier group saying โ€œthey started firstโ€.

Hypersonic anti-ship cruise missiles, or the mysterious anti-ship ballistic missiles China has avoid that.
They avoid that because the law of physics no longer allow radar.

I was thinking about the period in which the United States was experiencing rapid industrial growth, on its way to becoming the most powerful industrial nation. At first not much science, buts lots and lots of technological innovation. Iโ€™m not aware of a corresponding efflorescence of innovative Chinese technology today, but then I donโ€™t know everything: so I asked.

Iโ€™m still not aware of it. So maybe the answer is โ€˜noโ€™.

hmm: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/05/10/chinese-innovations/#comment-91389
I would say that a lot of the most intelligent faction is being siphoned over into government work, and thus not focused in technological innovation. We should expect to see societal/political innovation rather than technological if my thesis is true.

Thereโ€™s some evidence of that.
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may 2017 by nhaliday
China Overtakes US in Scientific Articles, Robots, Supercomputers - The Unz Review
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may 2017 by nhaliday
[1502.05274] How predictable is technological progress?
Recently it has become clear that many technologies follow a generalized version of Moore's law, i.e. costs tend to drop exponentially, at different rates that depend on the technology. Here we formulate Moore's law as a correlated geometric random walk with drift, and apply it to historical data on 53 technologies. We derive a closed form expression approximating the distribution of forecast errors as a function of time. Based on hind-casting experiments we show that this works well, making it possible to collapse the forecast errors for many different technologies at different time horizons onto the same universal distribution. This is valuable because it allows us to make forecasts for any given technology with a clear understanding of the quality of the forecasts. As a practical demonstration we make distributional forecasts at different time horizons for solar photovoltaic modules, and show how our method can be used to estimate the probability that a given technology will outperform another technology at a given point in the future.

- p_t = unit price of tech
- log(p_t) = y_0 - ฮผt + โˆ‘_{i <= t} n_i
- n_t iid noise process
preprint  study  economics  growth-econ  innovation  discovery  technology  frontier  tetlock  meta:prediction  models  time  definite-planning  stylized-facts  regression  econometrics  magnitude  energy-resources  phys-energy  money  cost-benefit  stats  data-science  ๐Ÿ”ฌ  ideas  speedometer  multiplicative  methodology  stochastic-processes  time-series  stock-flow  iteration-recursion  org:mat 
april 2017 by nhaliday
Overview of current development in electrical energy storage technologies and the application potential in power system operation
- An overview of the state-of-the-art in Electrical Energy Storage (EES) is provided.
- A comprehensive analysis of various EES technologies is carried out.
- An application potential analysis of the reviewed EES technologies is presented.
- The presented synthesis to EES technologies can be used to support future R&D and deployment.

Prospects and Limits of Energy Storage in Batteries: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jz5026273
study  survey  state-of-art  energy-resources  heavy-industry  chemistry  applications  electromag  stock-flow  wonkish  frontier  technology  biophysical-econ  the-world-is-just-atoms  ๐Ÿ”ฌ  phys-energy  ideas  speedometer  dirty-hands  multi 
april 2017 by nhaliday
Interview Greg Cochran by Future Strategist

- IQ enhancement (somewhat apprehensive, wonder why?)
- ~20 years to CRISPR enhancement (very ballpark)
- cloning as an alternative strategy
- environmental effects on IQ, what matters (iodine, getting hit in the head), what doesn't (schools, etc.), and toss-ups (childhood/embryonic near-starvation, disease besides direct CNS-affecting ones [!])
- malnutrition did cause more schizophrenia in Netherlands (WW2) and China (Great Leap Forward) though
- story about New Mexico schools and his children (mostly grad students in physics now)
- clever sillies, weird geniuses, and clueless elites
- life-extension and accidents, half-life ~ a few hundred years for a typical American
- Pinker on Harvard faculty adoptions (always Chinese girls)
- parabiosis, organ harvesting
- Chicago economics talk
- Catholic Church, cousin marriage, and the rise of the West
- Gregory Clark and Farewell to Alms
- retinoblastoma cancer, mutational load, and how to deal w/ it ("something will turn up")
- Tularemia and Stalingrad (ex-Soviet scientist literally mentioned his father doing it)
- germ warfare, nuclear weapons, and testing each
- poison gas, Haber, nerve gas, terrorists, Japan, Syria, and Turkey
- nukes at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incirlik_Air_Base
- IQ of ancient Greeks
- history of China and the Mongols, cloning Genghis Khan
- Alexander the Great vs. Napoleon, Russian army being late for meetup w/ Austrians
- the reason why to go into Iraq: to find and clone Genghis Khan!
- efficacy of torture
- monogamy, polygamy, and infidelity, the Aboriginal system (reverse aging wives)
- education and twin studies
- errors: passing white, female infanticide, interdisciplinary social science/economic imperialism, the slavery and salt story
- Jewish optimism about environmental interventions, Rabbi didn't want people to know, Israelis don't want people to know about group differences between Ashkenazim and other groups in Israel
- NASA spewing crap on extraterrestrial life (eg, thermodynamic gradient too weak for life in oceans of ice moons)
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march 2017 by nhaliday
The United States achieved a 2.0 percent average annual growth rate of real GDP per capita between 1891 and 2007. This paper predicts that growth in the 25 to 40 years after 2007 will be much slower, particularly for the great majority of the population. Future growth will be 1.3 percent per annum for labor productivity in the total economy, 0.9 percent for output per capita, 0.4 percent for real income per capita of the bottom 99 percent of the income distribution, and 0.2 percent for the real disposable income of that group.

The primary cause of this growth slowdown is a set of four headwinds, all of them widely recognized and uncontroversial. Demographic shifts will reduce hours worked per capita, due not just to the retirement of the baby boom generation but also as a result of an exit from the labor force both of youth and prime-age adults. Educational attainment, a central driver of growth over the past century, stagnates at a plateau as the U.S. sinks lower in the world league tables of high school and college completion rates. Inequality continues to increase, resulting in real income growth for the bottom 99 percent of the income distribution that is fully half a point per year below the average growth of all incomes. A projected long-term increase in the ratio of debt to GDP at all levels of government will inevitably lead to more rapid growth in tax revenues and/or slower growth in transfer payments at some point within the next several decades.

There is no need to forecast any slowdown in the pace of future innovation for this gloomy forecast to come true, because that slowdown already occurred four decades ago. In the eight decades before 1972 labor productivity grew at an average rate 0.8 percent per year faster than in the four decades since 1972. While no forecast of a future slowdown of innovation is needed, skepticism is offered here, particularly about the techno-optimists who currently believe that we are at a point of inflection leading to faster technological change. The paper offers several historical examples showing that the future of technology can be forecast 50 or even 100 years in advance and assesses widely discussed innovations anticipated to occur over the next few decades, including medical research, small robots, 3-D printing, big data, driverless vehicles, and oil-gas fracking.

keep in mind, "the world is just atoms" and I think I know some things that Robert J Gordon doesn't
pdf  study  economics  growth-econ  prediction  big-picture  cliometrics  technology  innovation  stagnation  malaise  ๐ŸŽฉ  econ-productivity  history  mostly-modern  econ-metrics  demographics  education  inequality  monetary-fiscal  debt  government  labor  pessimism  ๐Ÿ”ฌ  stylized-facts  huge-data-the-biggest  zero-positive-sum  usa  automation  winner-take-all  murray  energy-resources  the-world-is-just-atoms  trends  current-events  broad-econ  info-dynamics  chart  nihil  zeitgeist  rot  the-bones  cjones-like  speedometer  whiggish-hegelian  flux-stasis  mokyr-allen-mccloskey  microfoundations 
march 2017 by nhaliday
Meta-assessment of bias in science
Science is said to be suffering a reproducibility crisis caused by many biases. How common are these problems, across the wide diversity of research fields? We probed for multiple bias-related patterns in a large random sample of meta-analyses taken from all disciplines. The magnitude of these biases varied widely across fields and was on average relatively small. However, we consistently observed that small, early, highly cited studies published in peer-reviewed journals were likely to overestimate effects. We found little evidence that these biases were related to scientific productivity, and we found no difference between biases in male and female researchers. However, a scientistโ€™s early-career status, isolation, and lack of scientific integrity might be significant risk factors for producing unreliable results.
study  academia  science  meta:science  metabuch  stylized-facts  ioannidis  replication  error  incentives  integrity  trends  social-science  meta-analysis  ๐Ÿ”ฌ  hypothesis-testing  effect-size  usa  biases  org:nat  info-dynamics 
march 2017 by nhaliday
how big was the edge? | West Hunter
random side note:
- dysgenics running at -.5-1 IQ/generation in NW Europe since ~1800 and China by ~1960
- gap between east asians and europeans typically a bit less than .5 SD (or .3 SD if you look at mainland chinese not asian-americans?), similar variances
- 160/30 * 1/15 = .36, so could explain most of gap depending on when exactly dysgenics started
- maybe Europeans were just smarter back then? still seems like you need additional cultural/personality and historical factors. could be parasite load too.
west-hunter  discussion  history  early-modern  science  innovation  comparison  asia  china  divergence  the-great-west-whale  culture  society  technology  civilization  europe  frontier  arms  military  agriculture  discovery  coordination  literature  sinosphere  roots  anglosphere  gregory-clark  spearhead  parasites-microbiome  dysgenics  definite-planning  reflection  s:*  big-picture  ๐Ÿ”ฌ  track-record  scitariat  broad-econ  info-dynamics  chart  prepping  zeitgeist  rot  wealth-of-nations  cultural-dynamics  ideas  enlightenment-renaissance-restoration-reformation  occident  modernity  microfoundations  the-trenches  marginal  summary  orient  speedometer  the-world-is-just-atoms  gnon  math  geometry  defense  architecture  hari-seldon 
march 2017 by nhaliday
Discovering Limits to Growth | Do the Math
One may of course be skeptical that this general trend will also apply to the growth of our technology and economy at large, as innovation seems to continually postpone our clash with the ceiling, yet it seems inescapable that it must. For in light of what we know about physics, we can conclude that exponential growth of the kinds we see today, in technology in particular and in our economy more generally, must come to an end, and do so relatively soon.
scitariat  prediction  hmm  economics  growth-econ  biophysical-econ  world  energy-resources  the-world-is-just-atoms  books  summary  quotes  commentary  malthus  models  dynamical  ๐Ÿธ  mena4  demographics  environment  org:bleg  nibble  regularizer  science-anxiety  deep-materialism  nihil  the-bones  whiggish-hegelian  multi  tetlock  trends  wiki  macro  pessimism  eh  primitivism  new-religion  cynicism-idealism  gnon  review  recommendations  long-short-run  futurism  ratty  miri-cfar  effective-altruism  hanson  econ-metrics  ems  magnitude  street-fighting  nitty-gritty  physics  data  phys-energy  ๐Ÿ”ฌ  multiplicative  iteration-recursion 
march 2017 by nhaliday
Futuristic Physicists? | Do the Math
interesting comment: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2014/03/05/outliers/#comment-23087
referring to timelines? or maybe also the jetpack+flying car (doesn't seem physically impossible; at most impossible for useful trip lengths)?

Topic Mean % pessim. median disposition
1. Autopilot Cars 1.4 (125 yr) 4 likely within 50 years
15. Real Robots 2.2 (800 yr) 10 likely within 500 years
13. Fusion Power 2.4 (1300 yr) 8 likely within 500 years
10. Lunar Colony 3.2 18 likely within 5000 years
16. Cloaking Devices 3.5 32 likely within 5000 years
20. 200 Year Lifetime 3.3 16 maybe within 5000 years
11. Martian Colony 3.4 22 probably eventually (>5000 yr)
12. Terraforming 4.1 40 probably eventually (> 5000 yr)
18. Alien Dialog 4.2 42 probably eventually (> 5000 yr)
19. Alien Visit 4.3 50 on the fence
2. Jetpack 4.1 64 unlikely ever
14. Synthesized Food 4.2 52 unlikely ever
8. Roving Astrophysics 4.6 64 unlikely ever
3. Flying โ€œCarsโ€ 3.9 60 unlikely ever
7. Visit Black Hole 5.1 74 forget about it
9. Artificial Gravity 5.3 84 forget about it
4. Teleportation 5.3 85 forget about it
5. Warp Drive 5.5 92 forget about it
6. Wormhole Travel 5.5 96 forget about it
17. Time Travel 5.7 92 forget about it
org:bleg  nibble  data  poll  academia  higher-ed  prediction  speculation  physics  technology  gravity  geoengineering  space  frontier  automation  transportation  energy-resources  org:edu  expert  scitariat  science  no-go  big-picture  wild-ideas  the-world-is-just-atoms  applications  multi  west-hunter  optimism  pessimism  objektbuch  regularizer  s:*  c:**  ๐Ÿ”ฌ  poast  ideas  speedometer  whiggish-hegelian  scifi-fantasy  expert-experience  expansionism 
march 2017 by nhaliday
Which one would be easier to terraform: Venus or Mars? - Quora
what Greg Cochran was suggesting:
First, alternatives to terraforming. It would be possible to live on Venus in the high atmosphere, in giant floating cities. Using a standard space-station atmospheric mix at about half an earth atmosphere, a pressurized geodesic sphere would float naturally somewhere above the bulk of the clouds of sulfuric acid. Atmospheric motions would likely lead to some rotation about the polar areas, where inhabitants would experience a near-perpetual sunset. Floating cities could be mechanically rotated to provide a day-night cycle for on-board agriculture. The Venusian atmosphere is rich in carbon, oxygen, sulfur, and has trace quantities of water. These could be mined for building materials, while rarer elements could be mined from the surface with long scoops or imported from other places with space-plane shuttles.
q-n-a  qra  physics  space  geoengineering  caltech  phys-energy  magnitude  fermi  analysis  data  the-world-is-just-atoms  new-religion  technology  comparison  sky  atmosphere  thermo  gravity  electromag  applications  frontier  west-hunter  wild-ideas  ๐Ÿ”ฌ  scitariat  definite-planning  ideas  expansionism 
february 2017 by nhaliday
[0809.5250] The decline in the concentration of citations, 1900-2007
These measures are used for four broad disciplines: natural sciences and engineering, medical fields, social sciences, and the humanities. All these measures converge and show that, contrary to what was reported by Evans, the dispersion of citations is actually increasing.

- natural sciences around 60-70% cited in 2-5 year window
- humanities stands out w/ 10-20% cited (maybe because of focus on books)
study  preprint  science  meta:science  distribution  network-structure  len:short  publishing  density  ๐Ÿ”ฌ  info-dynamics  org:mat 
february 2017 by nhaliday
A New Germ Theory: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1999/02/a-new-germ-theory/377430/
The dictates of evolution virtually demand that the causes of some of humanity's chronic and most baffling "noninfectious" illnesses will turn out to be pathogens -- that is the radical view of a prominent evolutionary biologist

A LATE-SEPTEMBER heat wave enveloped Amherst College, and young people milled about in shorts or sleeveless summer frocks, or read books on the grass. Inside the red-brick buildings framing the leafy quadrangle students listened to lectures on Ellison and Emerson, on Paul Verlaine and the Holy Roman Empire. Few suspected that strains of the organism that causes cholera were growing nearby, in the Life Sciences Building. If they had known, they would probably not have grasped the implications. But these particular strains of cholera make Paul Ewald smile; they are strong evidence that he is on the right track. Knowing the rules of evolutionary biology, he believes, can change the course of infectious disease.

I HAVE a motto," Gregory Cochran told me recently. "'Big old diseases are infectious.' If it's common, higher than one in a thousand, I get suspicious. And if it's old, if it has been around for a while, I get suspicious."

pdf  study  speculation  bio  evolution  sapiens  parasites-microbiome  red-queen  disease  west-hunter  ๐ŸŒž  unit  nibble  len:long  biodet  EGT  wild-ideas  big-picture  epidemiology  deep-materialism  ๐Ÿ”ฌ  spearhead  scitariat  maxim-gun  ideas  lens  heterodox  darwinian  equilibrium  medicine  heuristic  spreading  article  psychiatry  QTL  distribution  behavioral-gen  genetics  population-genetics  missing-heritability  gender  sex  sexuality  cardio  track-record  aging  popsci  natural-experiment  japan  asia  meta:medicine  profile  ability-competence  empirical  theory-practice  data  magnitude  scale  cost-benefit  is-ought  occam  parsimony  stress  GWAS  roots  explanans  embodied  obesity  geography  canada  britain  anglo  trivia  cocktail  shift  aphorism  stylized-facts  evidence  inference 
february 2017 by nhaliday
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