Feynman and the secret of magic

Lubos Motl seems to have taken offense at my last post: Feynman’s Cognitive Style. This is a rather ironic outcome, given that I’ve been a “Feynman idolator” since I was in high school :-) In fact, I chose my college (Caltech), career, and even research specialization under his influence! In the previous post, I noted that …

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Why Blog?

A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to participate in a wonderful session at the Society for American Archaeology organized and chaired by Colleen Morgan, everyone’s favorite archaeology blogger. In addition to being one of the first times that archaeologists got together at a conference and talked about blogging as a valid medium for …

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Feynman’s cognitive style

Some interesting finds in this 1966 AIP oral history interview with Feynman. I have always felt that Feynman was cognitively a bit “lopsided” — much stronger mathematically than verbally. This might be partially responsible for his way of learning — it was often easier for him to invent his own solution than to read through …

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Chomsky: At War With Asia

In an earlier post I mentioned that my introduction to Chomsky came not via linguistics, but through his book At War With Asia, discovered by accident in the Page House library at Caltech. The book had a striking cover image, shown below. My reaction to the book was similar to that of this blogger: … no …

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Sven Magnus Øen Carlsen

I am curious about what serious chess players think of Elo scores across generations — is there a Flynn Effect? Current world champ Magnus Carlsen has the highest score of all time. It seems possible that due to computer training today’s players are much better than those of the past — we’ll never know how …

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Hungry Lansing

The Lansing State Journal has a major section devoted to hunger today. A pair of articles come from Joe Wald, executive director of the Greater Lansing Food Bank and Rev. Nicolette Siragusa, pastor at First Congregational Church in Grand Ledge. Wald is encouraging people to make a cash contribution to the food bank, while Rev. …

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Chomsky animated

Chomsky on genetics and brainpower. Chomsky on the po mo hustle. My lunch with Chomsky: I accidentally came across a copy of At War with Asia in the Page House library (Caltech) when I was a student. I had no idea who Chomsky was, I knew nothing yet of linguistics, but the book was powerful …

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A wake-up call on teacher selection

We recently received the results of our students’ performance on the Michigan Department of Education’s Professional Readiness Examination (PRE).  The department requires students to pass all three parts of the PRE test – reading, writing, and math – before they are allowed to do their student teaching.  In our college, we require students to pass …

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Install gplots in R 2.1X

I’ve been using EBSeq for a few things lately, and have had trouble getting some of the dependencies installed — in particular, gplots doesn’t seem to be readily available for R 2.14, 2.15, etc. Judging by my Google searches, others have been having the same problems; see e.g. http://stackoverflow.com/questions/16091096/can-not-install-ggplot-package-in-r-2-14-1 The general error message is of …

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Life was not created

This brochure from The Watchtower was sent to me by a reddit user, who in turn received it from a friend who believes God chose this place for us and directed evolution. You can download it here. Here are a few comments on the section that attempts to refute evolution. Myth 1. Mutations provide the …

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Dear Camp

Took a drive between Chelsea and Lansing yesterday on Rtes. 52 and 36. Saw lots of hunters down by Pinkney. Some were in camo and Jeep Cherokees. One was in feathers and aloft over an open field, looking for field mice, I guess. Friday was the opening of deer season in Michigan, though I’m not …

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Staying Active in No Time at All

Laura B. McGrath is a PhD student in English at Michigan State University. She tweets at @lbmcgrathand blogs at Emerging Modernisms. When people ask me what I actually do all day, I tell them: I sit and read. I also sit and write, and I also sit-while-driving. The demands of my scholarship require me to be stationary while I expend …

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Teacher bashing 101

The New York Times has published an op-ed column titled “How I helped teachers cheat.”  It was written by Dave Tomar, a self-professed “academic ghostwriter,” whose job was to work for an online custom paper mill.  Students would contact the website with an assignment, and they would receive a response with a price to complete the paper.  Mr. Tomar …

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Fifty-Thousand Squared

I’ve been thinking a lot about the long-term evolution experiment (LTEE) with E. coli lately – even more than usual.  One impetus has been the paper by Mike Wiser, Noah Ribeck, and me that appeared today (14-Nov-2013) in Science Express (online publication in advance of print).  Another reason is that I’m working on the competitive …

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Reddit AMA FAQ

I did a Reddit/r/IAmA AMA yesterday and got a huge amount of questions. Some of them were repeats, so I post them here with answers. I’m planning to do another AMA perhaps next month, so this can serve as a reference. Update 11/12/13: Randy’s interview about this AMA is featured on BEACON’s blog. Q. What …

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Citizens Income

The State of Alaska has been sending a check annually to every Alaskan resident. They don’t have to do anything but live there, no strings attached. Similarly some economists have called for either a Basic Income, Universal Guaranteed Income or sometimes what  is called a Citizens Income. Even Richard Nixon once proposed an across the …

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pictures in my head: What is that on the wing of the fly? What does it tell us about adaptation?

Over the past week or so, there has been an absolutely amazing image that has made the rounds on the internet of a fly (Goniurellia tridens)with markings on its wings reminiscent to many viewers of ants. Goniurellia tridens is a 3-in-1 insect [photo: Peter Roosenschoon] pic.twitter.com/i8ThAOkrvN — Ziya Tong (@ziyatong) November 4, 2013 As described …

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Fossil Fuel Investment, the Tip of the Iceberg

While college students are pressuring many of their schools to divest from holdings in fossil fuel companies, there are collaborating efforts being launched by institutional investors by assessing the entire portfolio’s carbon intensity, not simply fossil fuel holdings.. Companies that perform those assessments, TruCost, Bloomberg, and yes, even Bank of America – Merrill Lynch are …

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Punkin Time

I woke up this morning and James Whitcomb Riley was on my mind. Well, maybe it was after coffee, but sometime this morning “When the frost is on the punkin’”  started running through my head. Here’s how the first verse runs: WHEN the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock, And …

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LP Cutting Planes in CPLEX

Cut generation, as used in what follows, refers to generating constraints for a mathematical program “on the fly” (based on intermediate solutions), rather than adding all relevant constraints at the outset of the problem. It is typically used when  there is an astronomical number of possible constraints, most of which will turn out not to …

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