Baby Universes in the Laboratory

This was on the new books table at our local bookstore. I had almost forgotten about doing an interview and corresponding with the author some time ago. See also here and here. The book is a well-written overview of some of the more theoretical aspects of inflationary cosmology, the big bang, the multiverse, etc. It also …

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The Gulf is Deep (Heinlein)

  The novella Gulf predates almost all of Heinlein’s novels. Online version. The book Friday (1982) is a loose sequel. Wikipedia: Gulf is a novella by Robert A. Heinlein, originally published as a serial in the November and December 1949 issues of Astounding Science Fiction and later collected in Assignment in Eternity. It concerns a secret society …

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We Are What We Eat/Read

We took our son, Noah and his partner, Andy, to dinner last night at a new Thai restaurant in Detroit, Katoi. The menu was unique to my culinary experience. The mix of tastes and combinations of ingredients was so distinctive, that I could not possibly imagine what these combinations might taste like. I was struck …

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Foo Camp 2016

I was at Foo Camp the last few days. This year they kept the size a bit lower (last year was kind of a zoo) and I thought the vibe was a lot more relaxed and fun. Many thanks to the O’Reilly folks for running this wonderful meeting and for inviting me. My first time …

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Good Stories

March is still roaring a bit, though with Mid-Michigan temperatures eking into the 60s it’s a bit more like a purr. Nevertheless, you have to squint pretty hard to see the crocuses peeking out of the ground or the little spots of green that will be turning into budding leaves in the coming weeks. I …

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Grad school poetry

Punya Mishra recently posted to his blog a digital version of a book that several of us in MSU’s Educational Psychology and Educational Technology program worked on together. It’s not your typical academic book; I think Punya puts it best in his description of it: Graduate school can be a grind. Academia can be dull …

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James Salter, 1925-2015

“Forgive him anything, he writes like an angel.” Remember that the life of this world is but a sport and a pastime.  NYTimes obituary. From a 2011 post: I’ve been a fan of the writer James Salter (see also here) since discovering his masterpiece A Sport and a Pastime. Salter evokes Americans in France as …

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Book Tour

I spent most of last week on a mini book tour to promote my new book From Field to Fork: Food Ethics for Everyone. It was fun and pretty well received at all four of the West Coast locations. In Berkeley, CA a skeptical gentleman asked me to talk a bit about the case for …

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A Brief History of Humankind

 I wonder whether Yuval Harari is related to the physicist Haim Harari. Yuval Noah Harari discusses his new book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, which explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be human. One hundred thousand years ago, at least …

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Paul and Anne Ehrlich

The theme for ‘food ethics icons’ month is the world hunger/population growth tangle. Our thinking has been bracketed by two opposing nostrums: On the one hand, agriculture is in a race with population growth, on the other hand, the problem is not agriculture but the distribution of food we already have. Both of these are …

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Infectiously Fun Science

Science is sometimes frustrating. The work is often repetitive and even tedious. It can be hard to explain to our friends and families—and sometimes even to peers—what we’re doing and why we think it’s important and interesting. The current state of the academic job market is terrible. But science is also often fun. There’s the joy …

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Eichmann revealed

Archival work reveals that Hannah Arendt (Eichmann in Jerusalem) and many other observers were fooled by Eichmann during his trial. He was more than a cog, not merely banal, and did indeed think about his actions during the Holocaust. Bettina Stangneth’s recent book, Eichmann before Jerusalem is fascinating reading. NYTimes: … The story of the …

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Neural Networks and Deep Learning 2

Inspired by the topics discussed in this earlier post, I’ve been reading Michael Nielsen’s online book on neural nets and deep learning. I particularly liked the subsection quoted below. For people who think deep learning is anything close to a solved problem, or anticipate a near term, quick take-off to the Singularity, I suggest they …

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Books Without the Burden

Books are expensive; textbooks are outrageously expensive. And heavy. So even if you’re a die-hard print lover, this list of free books available online can ease your burden (both financially and physically). The first and most obvious is the heavy hitter: Project Gutenberg. Project Gutenberg runs off of donations and impressively manages to provide over 42,000 …

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Word Play

I’m sure that everyone is wondering what I’ve been reading these days. [Well actually I’m being facetious. I don’t for a minute think that anyone woke up on a February morning thinking to themselves, “Gosh! It’s bothering me that I haven’t the foggiest notion what Paul Thompson has been reading of late.” But it’s a …

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