Vital national interests will change.
Perceptions may not.

August 6, 2014

As a century-or-so update to To War for Trade? — 3 August 1914 (UK), I note more recent US defense policy: Quadrennial Defense Review – May 1997 Section III: Defense Strategy When the interests at stake are vital…we should do whatever it takes to defend them, including, when necessary, the unilateral use of military power. […]

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Gmail interface horror

July 9, 2014

Accidentally sending an unfinished, unedited email can be a really big mistake, so one wouldn’t want to make this mistake really, really easy… Here is the button-filled corner of the “Reply” edit window in Gmail. Note the a measurement added in red: Is there any imaginable excuse for placing the Send button just 10 pixels […]

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Physics Quiz: Corrected Answers

April 25, 2014

With thanks to Kevin, the previous post has been updated with corrections re. neutrinos and the Higgs.

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Physics Quiz: Standard Model Answers

April 19, 2014

Last week’s Physics Quiz asked about errors in Wikipedia’s current diagram of the Standard Model. Here’s the diagram with [corrected] corrections; answers follow: What do the arcs represent? The Standard Model interactions between particles: the boson-mediated strong, weak, and electromagnetic forces. Which of the arcs is incorrect? [And a question that got lost: Where is […]

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Physics Quiz: The Standard Model

April 16, 2014

The Wikipedia page on the Standard Model currently includes the diagram below: What do the arcs represent? Which of the arcs is incorrect? Extra credit, Wikipedia history department:   How did one correction lead to both errors? Added: Where is a second arc missing? (This makes question 3 ambiguous.) 17 April update: added question 4 after […]

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The five kinds of nanotechnology

April 4, 2014

Why understanding seems stuck: I count five kinds of nanotechnology, of which only three are called by that name. Of the three, one is a revolutionary prospect, one is a fantasy, and the third is mostly materials science. As for the other two kinds, one is the heart of today’s greatest technological revolution, while the […]

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A critic of the Hyperloop speaks in a vacuum

August 13, 2013

As I suspect most of my readers know, Elon Musk unveiled a proposal yesterday for the “Hyperloop”, a new concept for high-speed transportation. The response shows how easily ignorance takes on the color of knowledge. (See updates below for more of this.) For example, the top Google hit for “Hyperloop” at the moment is a […]

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Robin replies

July 11, 2013

Robin Hanson has posted my critique of his critique of Radical Abundance, together with his response here. Robin writes: I accept that you talked about natural resources no longer being scarce or important in the context of international conflict, though I find it hard to imagine nations not caring about resources if their citizens still […]

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Robin Hanson critiques Radical Abundance

July 5, 2013

My friend Robin Hanson, who eventually ran off and become a professor of economics at George Mason University, recently critiqued my new book, Radical Abundance. Since Robin has a notorious love of controversy, I offer the following open letter: Hi Robin, While criticism is great, I was surprised by the specifics of your recent critique […]

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Quiz Question:
What is wrong with this model of computation?

August 3, 2011

In the news today: “Governments, IOC and UN hit by massive cyber attack” (BBC) How did the attack work? In a mind-numbingly ordinary way: “An email would be sent to an individual with the right level of access within the system; attached to the message was a piece of malware which would then execute and […]

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I blame a deep flaw
in current software technology

April 12, 2011

Metamodern had vanished at the end of last month while I was traveling, and for a week or so I forwarded it to this stand-in page. As you can see, the blog is now up and running. The stand-in page outlines a (re)emerging software technology that deserves several orders of magnitude more attention. Current software […]

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Nano drug carrier (!!!)

December 8, 2010

This news just in: A ‘buckyball’ — a spherical molecule made up of 60 carbon atoms — has been turned into a vial just big enough to hold a single water molecule…. The authors say that uses for the vial could include acting as a carrier for drugs in the body. (News item) As The […]

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