Archives for January, 2007

Irreducible Complexity in Mathematics?

It’s been a while since I’ve replied to anything over at Uncommon Descent. But this entry from Salvador Cordova really caught my eye. It is based on this paper, by mathematician Gregory Chaitin, The paper’s title: “The Halting Probability Omega: Irreducible Complexity in Pure Mathematics.” Goodness! There’s irreducible complexity again. Let’s check in with Salvador…

Olbermann Nails O’Reilly

Keith Olbermann routinely declares Bill O’Reilly to be The Worst Person in the World, but I thought yesterday’s edition was especially amusing: And our winner? Oh, it’s a two-for, Bill-O offering you this splendid deal, buy a copy of his book, “I’m Squinting While Wearing a Wind Breaker” — no, I’m sorry, it’s called “Culture…

Kitcher on Darwin and Religion

From the blog of Oxford University Press comes this essay from philosopher Phillip Kitcher. The subject: evolution and religion. Let’s look at some highlights: The answer, very often, is that particular pieces of scientific knowledge are viewed as threatening. Acknowledging the truth about global warming would unsettle those who believe in the unfettered rights of…

Speaking of chess, we really ought to take a moment to acknowledge the fact that the first major grandmaster chess tournament of the year has now ended. I refer of course to the annual event at Wijk aan Zee, in the Netherlands. This year’s event ended in a three-way tie between Veselin Topalov, Teimour Radjabov…

Gender Differences Among Chessplayers

Over at Pure Pedantry, Jake Young reports on a major study into the reasons for the dearth of women among competitive chessplayers. His conclusion: I am going to make an analogy to make this data make more sense. Why does it seem like the US has substantially fewer good soccer players than the rest of…

Bush vs. Science, Again

Via ThinkProgress comes this irritating story about a recent Congressional hearing on the political manipulation of climate change science. Tennessee Democratic representative Jim Cooper told the following story, about a dinner party he attended:

Fisking Turner

The stereotype about acedmics living in ivory towers does have a germ of truth to it. For the latest example, have a look at biologist J. Scott Turner’s take on the ID situation. He was writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education. He begins: I’d never had a heckler before. Usually, when I’m asked to…

Biology’s Next Revolution?

The current issue of Nature features this interesting essay by Nigel Goldenfeld and Carl Woese. The essay’s point is that recent discoveries about genomic interactions among microbes, particularly the phenomenon of horizontal gene transfer (HGT), is forcing us to reevaluate certain basic concepts in biology. They write: One of the most fundamental patterns of scientific…

And Harris Replies in Kind

As I mentioned, Sam Harris has already replied to Sullivan’s essay. Let’s consider some highlights: Contrary to your allegation, I do not “disdain” religious moderates. I do, however, disdain bad ideas and bad arguments–which, I’m afraid, you have begun to manufacture in earnest. I’d like to point out that you have not rebutted any of…

Sullivan Replies to Harris…

Following up on my previous post about the blogalogue between Andrew Sullivan and Sam Harris, here have now been a few more entries. Picking up where the previous post left off, let’s look at Sullivan’s reply. Since Harris has replied in turn, I will content myself with a few brief points. Sullivan writes: I also…

State of the Union

There was only one small part of Bush’s State of the Unon address that really jumped out at me. Here it is: This war is more than a clash of arms — it is a decisive ideological struggle, and the security of our nation is in the balance. To prevail, we must remove the conditions…

What Good Math Writing Looks Like

I was really impressed by this post from Polymathematics. He discusses a proof of Morley’s Theorem, which is a result from Euclidean geometry. Start with any triangle. Trisect each of the three angles. Then the points of intersection of pairs of adjacent trisectors from the vertices of an equilateral triangle. Take one look at the…

A New SciBling!

Be sure to go say hi to the newest member of the all-encompassing Science Blogs combine. ScienceToLife is written by Karen Ventii, a graduate student in biochemistry at Emory University. Looks like she’s especially interested in health related stories. Good stuff!

On the subject of basic concepts, here’s an essay I orginally posted back in June. In it I try to explain what infinity is all about. It seems appropriate for this series, so I thought I would bring it back. Enjoy!

Basic Concepts: Numbers

Many of my SciBlings have been doing posts in which they define basic concepts in various scientific fields. For example, physicist Chad Orzel has done posts on Force and Fields, biologist P. Z. Myers has covered Genes, computer scientist Mark Chu-Carroll offers up wise words on Margin of Error and Standard Deviation, and philosopher John…