Time and Memory

Over the holiday I started digging through my mom’s old albums and boxes of photos. I found some pictures I didn’t know existed! Richard Feynman and the 19 year old me at my Caltech graduation: With my mom that morning — hung-over, but very happy! I think those are some crazy old school Ray Bans …

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LIGO detects gravity waves

Live-blogging the LIGO announcement of detection of gravity waves. Detection of an event in 2015 (initial science run of advanced LIGO) is good news for the future use of gravity waves as an astrophysical probe — it suggests a fairly high density of NS-NS, NS-BH, and BH-BH binaries in the universe. Each time astronomers have …

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Colleges ranked by Nobel, Fields, Turing and National Academies output

Colleges ranked by Nobel, Fields, Turing and National Academies output This Quartz article describes Jonathan Wai’s research on the rate at which different universities produce alumni who make great contributions to science, technology, medicine, and mathematics. I think the most striking result is the range of outcomes: the top school outperforms good state flagships (R1 …

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Value-Added College Rankings

New report from Brookings estimates value added (in terms of economic success) by university, controlling for input factors such as student quality and family income. This is just the first step toward outcomes-driven rankings of universities that will be far more useful than the existing rankings, which are largely based on prestige. Brief summary. See …

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Feynman Lectures: Epilogue

The full text of The Feynman Lectures is now available online. These lectures were originally delivered to satisfy the physics requirement for first and second year students at Caltech. Legend has it that as the lectures went on, fewer and fewer undergraduates were seen in attendance, with their places taken by graduate students and even members …

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20 years @15 percent: does Harvard discriminate against Asian-Americans?

  This is the brief filed yesterday against Harvard, alleging discrimination against Asian-American applicants. A related suit was filed against UNC, with perhaps another to come against Wisconsin. Re: the graph above, note that Caltech has race-blind admissions. … Harvard is engaging in racial balancing. Over an extended period, Harvard’s admission and enrollment figures for …

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Harvard admissions and meritocracy

Motivated by Steve Pinker’s recent article The Trouble With Harvard (see my comments here), Ephblog drills down on Harvard admissions. The question is just how far Harvard deviates from Pinker’s ideal of selecting the entire class based on intellectual ability. Others raised similar questions, as evidenced by, e.g., the very first comment that appeared on …

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