Archives for August, 2010

Is Bond Dead?

With classes set to start on Monday I am not in the mood for heavy fare. So how about some entertainment blogging! Like all sensible people I am a big fan of the James Bond movies. That none of them, let’s face it, are actually all that good, does not affect my inability to change…

P. Z. On the Mend

P. Z. Myers had heart surgery yesterday, to implant a few stents. It was all very worrisome, but since he is already back to yelling at HuffPo it seems that things will work out OK. Best wishes for a speedy recovery, P. Z.

Monday Math: Logarithms

We begin with a joke. What’s a logarithm? It’s a birth control method for lumberjacks. Hahahahaha! Believe it or not, one of my high school math teachers taught me that. Actually, logarithms are a computational tool for turning products into sums. They are defined as follows. \[ \log_a b=x \textrm{ if and only if }…

The “Ground Zero Mosque”

For the past few days I have been intending to do a big post about the proposed “Ground Zero Mosque,” in which I would gather up and comment on what various other people had said. Alas, I have not had time for that. So let me instead just do a quick post. I have no…

Evidence and the End of Christianity

And speaking of evidence for God, here’s Matt Rossano putting forth an interesting idea: Now this may seem too whimsical to be taken seriously, but the important point is this: however one envisions convincing scientific evidence of God, let’s suppose we’ve got it. Let’s further suppose that this god is pretty much the god we…

On False Claims of Certainty

Monday Math is off this week. School starts in just two more weeks, and I have been making a last push to have as much of my books done as I can before it does. Cuts into my blogging time, alas. Which is a shame, since there is plenty of fodder. For example, Peter Enns…

Another Positive Review of the BMHB!

That’s the Big Monty Hall Book for those unfamiliar with the local slang. The review appeared in the May issue of The American Statistician, not freely available online, alas. The author was Michael Sherman of Texas A & M University. Here’s the opening: Jason Rosenhouse states on the last page of his book that he…

In this week’s edition of Monday Math we look at what I regard as one of the prettiest equations in number theory. Here it is: \[ \sum_{n=1}^\infty \frac{1}{n^s} = \prod_p \left( \frac{1}{1-\frac{1}{p^s}}\right) \]   Doesn’t it just make your heart go pitter-pat? You are probably familiar with the big sigma notation for sums. The big…

By now you have no doubt heard that a federal judge in California has struck down Proposition Eight, a voter referendum that outlawed gay marriage. Go here for a quick summary of the basic facts. I have not had a chance yet to read the entire decision, and I do not intend to attempt a…

Schaeffer Plays the Village Atheist

The second good post comes from Frank Schaeffer, making an argument that usually gets you dismissed as a village atheist. Here’s the set-up: There is a verse in Timothy that says that all Scripture is for our edification. This verse, not the many Bible stories of the many killings “ordained by God,” is the scariest…

Stenger on Quantum Woo

I can’t quite believe I am writing this, but the HuffPo religion section actually has not one, but two, good posts up. The first is from Victor Stenger talking about some of the daffier misapplications of quantum mechanics. It makes a nice follow-up to Monday’s post about Michael Shermer’s essay. In short, a physical object…

It’s Never Really About Civility

Here’s Rod Dreher giving lectures about civility: What is it with science-oriented advocates who consider contempt a virtue? Who, exactly, do they think they are going to persuade? (You could say the same thing about sneering political bloggers, sneering religious bloggers, and, well, sneerers in all forms of public discourse, inasmuch as sneering seems to…

Shermer Spanks Chopra

Michael Shermer has has an excellent essay responding to Deepak Chopra’s “quantum flapdoodle.” Chopra’s use and abuse of quantum physics is what the Caltech quantum physicist and Nobel laureate Murray Gell-Mann calls “quantum flapdoodle,” which consists of stringing together a series of terms and phrases from quantum physics and asserting that they explain something in…

Last week we saw that every positive integer greater than one can be factored into primes in an essentially unique way. This week we ask a different question: Just how many primes are there? Euclid solved this problem a little over two thousand years ago by showing there are infinitely many primes. His proof was…