Two Feynman Courses on Physics

Feynman at the research meeting in Wangerooge in 1988 (see here) I started out my career as a theoretical physicist and I’ve written a number of blog posts relating to this topic and period. The most popular have been those that featured Richard Feynman (I have an incidental connection to him as I co-organised theContinue reading “Two Feynman Courses on Physics”

Researching Time and Life

I’ve written recently on the conundrum of time (as viewed across many disciplines, covering both the arts and sciences) so was fascinated to read that a nearby university has been successful in winning a large grant to research this topic. From their website: “The University of Surrey has received its largest ever philanthropic grant, fundedContinue reading “Researching Time and Life”

Small Experiments and Grand Plans

From here: This story is from Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland: “The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all thoseContinue reading “Small Experiments and Grand Plans”

COVID-19 and The Swiss Cheese Model

I’d not heard of the Swiss Cheese Model as a way for understanding risks and their management: “The Swiss cheese model of accident causation is a model used in risk analysis and risk management, including aviation safety, engineering, healthcare, emergency service organizations, and as the principle behind layered security, as used in computer security andContinue reading “COVID-19 and The Swiss Cheese Model”

Selling Science

From a talk on carrying out successful research by Richard Hamming, a distinguished American mathematician and computer theorist: “While going to meetings I had already been studying why some papers are remembered and most are not. The technical person wants to give a highly limited technical talk. Most of the time the audience wants aContinue reading “Selling Science”

Thinking Allowed

“We live in a culture that tends to view thought with a degree of suspicion. Thinking is frequently associated with uselessness, idleness, laziness. These suspicions can be somewhat allayed when thinking can be directly tied to some kind of purpose or tangible result, of course. Accordingly, we tend to conceptualize thinking in terms of learning.Continue reading “Thinking Allowed”

Approximate And Exact Answers

Seen on the (data visualisation) Edward Tufte site: You have already quoted a short version of John Tukey’s aphorism, but I prefer a slightly longer expression of the same idea that he wrote in 1962: Far better an approximate answer to the right question, which is often vague, than an exact answer to the wrongContinue reading “Approximate And Exact Answers”

MIT Course On COVID And The Pandemic

I’ve been interested to take a (free) online course for a while now and was waiting for a subject that really engaged me. This one from MIT on a key topic of the day, COVID and the Pandemic, looks really good. The first lecture is up on the site with more to follow (the secondContinue reading “MIT Course On COVID And The Pandemic”

Giving Smart Answers Under Pressure

I recently decided to sell my vinyl collection, lovingly kept for years. The traditional hi-fi takes up too much space, changing sides of albums is a chore and (the way it’s set up) it’s primarily for just one room. I now find Sonos and Spotify (and others) a much more flexible and convenient arrangement. I’mContinue reading “Giving Smart Answers Under Pressure”

You Forget What You Know (Gell-Mann Amnesia)

“Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrongContinue reading “You Forget What You Know (Gell-Mann Amnesia)”