✒ things fall because of gravity

Unfortunately, once something is found that is true or useful, it tends to be presented in books as though it were obvious or very straightforward, when in fact it may be neither, and may have taken years, and chance, to discover.

From “Entropy, Scientific Explanations, Pseudo-Scientific Explanations, and Teaching Science” by Rick Garlikov. It goes on with a good example:

“The most common, I think, form of pseudo-explanation is to give a name to a phenomena, consider that name to name some sort of trait,  and then explain the occurrence of the phenomena in terms of the “existence” of the trait.

For example, imagine that a student gets mostly B’s in school.  Parents and teachers, and even the student himself, may come to think of him as a “B student”.  Notice that at this point, that just means that the student gets B’s generally.  It is synonymous with saying that he gets mostly B’s.  If someone asks you how you kid does in school, you can answer either “He gets mostly B’s” or you can answer “He’s pretty much a B student.” Both of these statements in this context mean the same exact thing.  Now there is no problem with this terminology unless people, including the student, begin to think that he gets B’s because he is a B student.  “Why didn’t you get an A on this exam, son?” “Dad, I couldn’t; I am just a B student.”  The reason this is not an explanation is because it just says essentially that the student gets B’s because he gets B’s.  For “being a B student just meant that one received B’s for the most part.”  It is not that getting B’s necessarily means a child has some sort of trait that causes him to get B’s.”

And further down:

“So although there may be some precise definition or notion of “entropy” that is useful, it cannot be just “measure of disorder” with the claim that disorder is always increasing only because you already know which “direction” phenomena occur and then call that direction the direction of increased entropy.  That is like saying objects fall because they are heavier than air, and rise because they are lighter, where what tells you which objects are which is that you know they rise or fall when released under normal conditions. Yet, that is what some physics texts seem to do.”

💬 the new gold

If data is the new gold, then we’ve been living in the Wild West.

― Hannah Fry, “Hello World” (2018)

📎 into the personal-website-verse

Personal websites are called personal websites because they are just that: personal. Thus, the primary objective still is to have a place to express ourselves, to explore ourselves, a place that lasts while the daily storms pass by. A place of consideration, and yes, a place of proudly sharing what we do, what we think, and what we care about. A place to contribute your voice and help others. A home on the internet. A place to tell your story.

But on top of that, we have the chance to (re-)establish personal websites also as central elements of online discourse and as entry points for people who are new to the web community. For this, we need to find ways to create an ecosystem that lives up to the diversity of the personal-website-verse. Consequently, what will hold our sites together, is most possibly not one technology to rule them all, but a multitude of different and ever-evolving technologies. Things like hyperlinks, comments, Webmentions, and RSS, of course, but also other technologies that have yet to be invented. Not only would this leave enough room for individual preferences, but it would also make the whole construct more resilient while still being flexible enough to evolve over time.


💡 the limit of human endurance

Researchers studying ultramarathon runners, Arctic explorers and Tour de France bike racers revealed in June the maximum amount of energy a person can expend for a sustained period of time. It’s around 2,5 times your basal metabolic rate — the amount of energy your body uses while just chilling out — which amounts to 4000 kcal per day on average.

The limit seems to come down to how much food you can digest, rather than anything to do with your heart, lungs or muscles. The real champions: pregnant women, whose energy use peaks at 2,2 times their basal metabolic rate.

Source: Nature Briefing, via Science Advances 05 Jun 2019: Vol. 5, no. 6, eaaw0341

📃 philosophy of physics

“In what follows I will therefore take a somewhat different tack from usual review articles: I will introduce the reader to those issues in recent philosophy of physics that might be of special interest to members of other philosophical sub-disciplines. By highlighting aspects of this field that overlap with epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of mathematics, logic and so on, I hope not only to complement extant reviews (which are typically written for a physics-inclined/trained audience), but furthermore to act as a guide for cross-disciplinary engagement on issues that will surely benefit from the attention of persons from a variety of backgrounds.”

(Non-relativistic) quantum mechanics
(Relativistic) quantum field theories
Thermodynamics and statistical mechanics
Quantum gravity
Particle physics

Elise M. Crull, Philosophy of Physics, Analysis, Volume 73, Issue 4, October 2013, Pages 771–784

💬 dear future generations

This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it.

A plaque penned by Icelandic writer Andri Snær Magnason will memorialize Okjökull, Iceland’s first glacier lost to climate change.

Seems relevant to add this quote:

Dear future generations: Please accept our apologies. We were rolling drunk on petroleum.

― Kurt Vonnegut