Ratliff Rants

Various rants on lifestyle, people, health, and politics…

Mathematical Hells

An Aspiring Rationalist's Ramble

[Warning: Memetic hazard and philosophical trip. Also, probably incorrect. Talks about death and torture and robots.]

The universe is probably infinite, flat, uniform, and ergodic. This means not only that there are an infinity of copies of the Earth, all of them identical, all of them containing “a you” that’s reading this post written by “a me.” In fact, all possible distributions of matter happen somewhere an infinity of times.

The Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics is probably correct. That means everything that “can happen” will, in “some universe.” This means all possible distributions of matter happen everywhere.

There’s a reasonable chance the process that spawned our universe was some form of Eternal or Chaotic Inflation, in which there’s a huge “field” whose local fluctuations spawn universes. In fact, due to the above, it’s likely that our universe repeats an infinite number of times.

It’s fun to think about the possibility that…

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Be F***ing Nice To People

New Book by Bob Tisdale: On Global Warming and the Illusion of Control – Part 1

Watts Up With That?

Guest Post by Bob Tisdale

I’ve been mentioning my new book in blog posts and comments for well over a year. I’ve finished Part 1, which makes up the majority of it. The best news: IT’S FREE. Click here for a copy (25 MB .pdf).
Cover - Tisdale - On Global Warming and the Illusion of Control

On Global Warming and the Illusion of Control – Part 1 includes introductory discussions of 3 primary topics:

  • the science behind the groupthink of human-induced global warming and climate change,
  • climate models, and
  • even more importantly, many of the numerous known modes of natural variability.

Those fundamental presentations are in layperson terms, with links to more-detailed discussions and peer-reviewed papers.

When you first download the ebook, you’ll note it’s over 700 pages long. Some of you are going to say to yourselves, I’ll never read a 700-page book about global warming and climate change. I’m not expecting that everyone will. The next thing you…

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A noble act of tribute by some Academics to put their research available for free at http://pdftribute.net


Screen Shot 2013-01-13 at 7.04.32 PM

An online tribute to Aaron Swartz, the 26-year-old activist who helped create RSS and committed suicide this past week, has attracted more than 1,500 links to research and academic papers. The site with the full list of links and research is here.

It’s an effort to honor Swartz, who faced up to 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines after he downloaded 4.8 million documents from JSTOR. He had wanted to make them more freely available before he took his life this week.

Micah Allen, who researches brain plasticity, cognitive neuroscience, and cognitive science, suggested the idea on Reddit earlier this weekend: “A fitting tribute to Aaron might be a mass protest uploading of copyright-protected research articles. Dump them on Gdocs, tweet the link. Think of the great blu-ray encoding protest but on a bigger scale for research articles.”

Two acquaintances of Swartz, Eva Vivalt and…

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Unhandled Exception

I did not know Aaron Swartz, unless you count having copies of a person’s entire digital life on your forensics server as knowing him. I did once meet his father, an intelligent and dedicated man who was clearly pouring his life into defending his son. My deepest condolences go out to him and the rest of Aaron’s family during what must be the hardest time of their lives.

If the good that men do is oft interred with their bones, so be it, but in the meantime I feel a responsibility to correct some of the erroneous information being posted as comments to otherwise informative discussions at Reddit, Hacker News and Boing Boing. Apparently some people feel the need to self-aggrandize by opining on the guilt of the recently departed, and I wanted to take this chance to speak on behalf of a man who can no…

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