Monthly Archives: January 2011

Newton’s Vision

Science has revolutionized the way we live thanks to its influence on technology, but it’s perhaps less well-known how science has utterly transformed the way we think about the world. For example, in ancient times it was thought that the … Continue reading

Posted in Physics | 1 Comment

Scott Aaronson’s Doofusino Theory

Scott Aaronson has a delightful blog, where he discusses quantum computation and computational complexity in a very light-hearted style. He’s a great writer and very instructive. A good example of his satire is his classic creation, doofusino theory.

Posted in Humour, Physics | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Disney World of Good vs. Evil

One of the traditional purposes of culture is to educate. Before books were common, the spoken word was the essential tool for teaching. Stories are memorable, and so telling stories was an effective way to pass on life lessons, particularly … Continue reading

Posted in Books, Education, Movies, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Unintended Consequences

I grew up in a steel town (see also here) in the 1960s and 1970s. My Dad worked at Atlas Steel, and I was proud to work there for a couple of summers when I was 18 and 19. At … Continue reading

Posted in Education, Environment, Society | Leave a comment

“Covering the Content”

One of my beloved professors told me a story about 30 years ago that has stuck with me, and has informed (not enough, alas) my own teaching practice. He was taking a full-year graduate course in C*-algebras with (I believe) … Continue reading

Posted in Education | Leave a comment

On Failure

A great line from Gretchen Rubin’s delightful blog (The Happiness Project): If you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough. It’s similar to a basketball truism about playing defense (“If you commit no fouls at all, you’re not trying hard … Continue reading

Posted in Books | Leave a comment

Words, Episode 2: compassion

Jian Ghomeshi interviewed Karen Armstrong (her recent book is 12 Steps to a Compassionate Life; for reviews see here, here, and here, for example) yesterday on Q, and she made the point that the major religions have largely failed at … Continue reading

Posted in Books, Society, Words | Leave a comment