Non-ergodicity and diversity

Ergodicity is the condition wherein a sample is representative of the whole vis-a-vis some statistical parameter. An ergodic system is one that visits all possible states of its existence as it evolves. Axiomatically, a non-ergodic system is one that does not. Stuart A. Kauffman, a scientist at the University of Calgary, wrote on Edge a…… Continue reading Non-ergodicity and diversity

A new discrimination

An article in KurzweilAI begins, Plants could soon provide our electricity. Why would anyone take this seriously? More than excitement, this line rouses a discerning reader to suspicion. It is bound to be centred on the word “soon”, implying in the near-future, imminently. You’re not sure which timescales people are thinking on but I’m sure…… Continue reading A new discrimination

Preprints don’t promote confusion – so taking them away won’t fix anything

In response to my Twitter thread against Tom Sheldon’s anti-preprints article in Nature, I received more responses in support of Sheldon’s view than I expected. So I wrote an extended takedown for my blog and, of course, The Wire, pasted below. In 1969, Franz J. Ingelfinger articulated a now-famous rule named after him in an…… Continue reading Preprints don’t promote confusion – so taking them away won’t fix anything

Redshift and eclipse

I am thoroughly dispirited. I had wanted to write today about how it is fascinating that we have validated Einstein’s theory of general relativity for the first time in an extreme environment: in the neighbourhood of a black hole. The test involved the detection of an effect called the gravitational redshift, whereby light that is…… Continue reading Redshift and eclipse

Silly arguments to restrict access to preprints

Tom Sheldon, a senior press manager at the Science Media Centre (SMC), London, had an interesting proposition – at least at first – published in Nature on July 24. The journal’s Twitter handle had tweeted it thus: “Do you think publishing on preprint servers is good or bad for science?” Though the question immediately set…… Continue reading Silly arguments to restrict access to preprints

The Tooth

I went to the most terrifying place in the world today: the dental clinic. I’d woken up this morning with a sharp pain under my right lower jaw and, soon enough, I realised it was time to get rid of the wisdom tooth – a divorce I’d been putting off for a few months for…… Continue reading The Tooth

The surprises “Nature is Lovecraftian” … is it? The literature of H.P. Lovecraft in freaky, at odds with the more conventional, less morally degenerate canon of English literary fiction irrespective of the period from which the latter is selected. To say “nature is Lovecraftian” is to extend to zoologia the out-of-place characteristic we associate with Lovecraft’s…… Continue reading The surprises

Gallium’s dance

A wide swath of fundamental physics and chemistry is defined by the pursuit of the ground state. Since we began elucidating the structure of the atom in the 1910s, much of what we know about how particles, quasiparticles and molecules behave can be described by a desire among each of these entities to lose all…… Continue reading Gallium’s dance