Estimation

Category archives for Estimation

The Physicists of Journalism

This Alberto Cairo piece on “data journalism” has been kicking around for a while, and it’s taken me a while to pin down what bugs me about it. I think my problem with it ultimately has to do with the first two section headers in which he identifies problems with FiveThirtyEight and Vox: 1. Data…

I didn’t plan to do a follow-up to yesterday’s post about the optics of sending messages with lasers, but then I starting idly thinking about detection, prompted in part by a bunch of conversations with my summer students about single-photon detectors. which led to scribbling on the back of an envelope, which led to Googling,…

Interstellar Laser Communications

In the comments to yesterday’s grumpy post about the Fermi paradox, makeinu raises the idea that advanced aliens would be using more targeted communications than we do: On the point about electromagnetic communications: even we are now using lasers to target communications with space, because it’s simply more efficient and reliable. It’s also basically impossible…

Fermi Fallacies

I’ve seen a bunch of people linking approvingly to this piece about the “Fermi paradox,” (the question of why we haven’t seen any evidence of other advanced civilizations) and I can’t quite understand why. The author expends a good deal of snark taking astronomers and physicists to task for constructing elaborate solutions to Fermi paradox…

A Rock the Size of Jupiter?

For some reason, the topic of really big rocks came up at dinner the other night, and SteelyKid declared that she wanted to find “A rock as big as the solar system.” We pointed out that that was pretty much impossible, more or less by definition, rocks being sub-parts of the solar system. “OK, how…

I don’t have anything all that new to say about last night’s Cosmos reboot, and I’m leaving for scenic Madison, WI today to attend DAMOP, so I don’t have a great deal of time. Kate did mention something over dinner last night, though, that’s a good topic for a quick blog post. Kate’s a big…

Last week’s talks were using sci-fi space travel as a hook to talk about relativity, and my original idea for the talk was to explain how faster-than-light travel ultimately ends up violating causality. Some observers will see effects happening before the events that cause them, and that’s just weird. In How to Teach Relativity to…

Long Overdue Snow Physics Post

Ages and ages ago, I posted the picture that’s the “featured image” above, and asked people to submit physics comments about it. Then I got distracted by a series of shiny things, and never did anything with the handful of responses I got. Because I’m a Terrible Person. Anyway, it’s long overdue, but here are…

On the Steering of Sleds

In the previous post about luge, I mentioned that there was one thing that came up when Rhett and I were talking about this, namely why there are differences in times between racers. The toy physics model I set up last time suggests that the difference between riders is only a matter of aerodynamics– two…

Snow Plow Projectile Physics

We got over a foot of snow yesterday and today, so schools are closed. Except Union is a residential college, so we never close, which means I have to dig my car out all the same. Which I did, clearing a path to the unplowed street, then took Emmy for her morning walk. During which,…