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Showing posts from April, 2015

‘We don’t need science!’: Chemtrail truthers badger GOP congressman at rowdy public meeting

Reduction

People make me sad.

People make me really, really sad.

There are lots of reasons for this, but one thing making me sad right now (yes, just one, I'm not going to go into too many details right now) is reduction. And you might be wondering why that makes me sad. After all, this is coming from the same person who describes hairbrushes as wavefunctions and humans as balls of cells.

Yeah, guilty as charged. I'm a hypocrite.

For some reason, it leaves an awfully sick taste in my mouth that you can sum up a person's character in the following details:

which arbitrary set of borders they grew up withinwhich arbitrary set of borders they were born withintheir gender(s)their sexuality People are not inherently bland. They are not interesting solely by virtue of being born in a place you consider "exotic" or something like that. To treat someone as being interesting only because of their nationality or their race or their gender, to reduce them to just that in your eyes, is…

Useless

The universe is useless.

Half of the people reading this think I'm wrong, half of them think that this is trivial, and the other half don't have a clue what I'm on about.

I am fully aware that this makes three halves.

Anyway, the universe is pretty damn purposeless. It doesn't exist for any grand, high-flown moralistic reason that we can work out; it just is. Because of (as far as we can tell) a Big Bang. Everything in it is just about as purposeless and useless, from galaxies to stars all the way down to us. The universe couldn't give a shit about human concepts like morality and purpose and so far all this is brain-bleedingly trivial so you might be wondering where I'm going with this.

Anyway, we're purposeless, useless beings living in a purposeless, useless universe and somehow I feel like out of 7 billion useless primates I'm the most useless of all.

Why do you have a stupid banner at the bottom of your blog?

I'm honestly not a fan of putting pop-up banners and ads and things on sites. So I apologise to everyone seeing the banner about Congress censoring the internet. Especially since, well, I'm not American and since a lot of big businesses are very much in favour of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

I will now say that I haven't looked into it enough to have a proper opinion, so I've largely tried to stay out of it. However, I am concerned about the secrecy of the proceedings and the severity of the intellectual property restraints, amongst other things.

Of Ivory Towers and Physics Woo

One of the reasons I really, really like doing physics is because it gives you an amazing bullshit filter, if you let it. All of a sudden the world becomes clear and sharp and deep, described by the beautiful and powerful language that is mathematics. Hopefully you learn the tools to tell the plausible from the just plain nonsense and try to base things on evidence.

Because physics is shiny and wonderful and leaves people speechless, the awe of physics is popular and widely publicised. By and large, this is a good thing; I believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to learn not just for utility but for pleasure, and to learn whatever the hell they please. Unfortunately, because most people are averse to maths (this is an utter travesty; numbers aren't scary), most popular science books gloss over or ignore the mathematical foundation of physics, giving people misconceptions. Now add that to the wave of stupid people promoting things like quantum woo and what do you get? A bunc…

Ode to Tinfoil

Tinfoil is very important.

I don't mean literal tinfoil - I'm just being silly. But tinfoil sounds like foil and I happen to think that foils are very important - not just for wrapping up sandwiches and making good cat toys, but also in the literary sense.

That's all very well and good; foils are pretty important to literature.

This is the point at which I make a bit of a jump and claim that foils are important to real life - in particular, that they are important to friendship. This is also the point at which this post turns into a sappy ode to my friends.

I am blessed to have friends from all over life's weird ways. They're not exactly like me. I have friends my parents disapprove of.

This is a good thing.

The differences between me and my friends mean that we can bounce things off each other - ideas, perspectives, maths, soft toys, bouncy balls, buckets of ice cold water. We disagree. We argue. We get things wrong. But it is worth it to illuminate each other'…