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Chemistry

Two Big Questions Physics Isn’t Addressing

Posted in Chemistry, Philosophy, Physics, Science on January 3rd, 2008 by leodirac – 1 Comment

One of the reasons I chose not to pursue a career in science was a feeling that all the interesting problems of physics have been solved. In a sense I still believe this — I don’t see the current line of pursuit bearing much fruit. But I do see two really important questions that physics hasn’t answered. What makes them especially interesting is that most of the scientific establishment doesn’t even recognize them as valid questions. Ever since Maxwell unified the theories of electricity and magnetism in 1864, physicists have been working towards a single model that can explain all…

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Free Will and Turing-completeness of the Brain

Posted in Chemistry, Computer Science, Philosophy, Physics, Science, Technology, Transhumanism, Uploading on February 22nd, 2007 by leodirac – 9 Comments

In this essay, I’m going to explore the question “If the human brain is Turing complete, what does that imply about the existence of free will?” And moreover, what does that mean about the ability to upload our consciousness into computers? First, a little computer science background. Turing completeness is the idea that a computing system has the same capabilities as a universal Turing machine. This theoretical machine moves along a long tape which has various symbols on it that the machine can read and write. The machine itself is always in one internal state, but will change to different…

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100% Chance of Rain in Seattle

Posted in Chemistry, Geography, Humor, Science, Seattle on December 15th, 2006 by leodirac – 1 Comment

I’ve had my own system for interpreting that “chance of rain” numbers that meteorologists use to predict weather. Along the lines of how people say eskimos have 137 different words for snow, here in Seattle, rain isn’t a simple yes/no thing. I wrote about it here a little while ago. The basic idea is that the % chance of rain is actually the % chance that a random person on the street would consider the current weather to be “rain.” I’ve also long believed that in Seattle it’s impossible to get over about 98% chance of rain because some die-hard…

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New York bans Trans-fats

Posted in Chemistry, Cooking, Science, Societal Values on December 10th, 2006 by leodirac – Comments Off on New York bans Trans-fats

I’m a little slow to re-report this, but but I find it fascinating so I want to share it in case you missed it. New York City has banned the use of trans-fats in restaurants. They’ve done this almost completely (a few exceptions for things like donut shops) and very quickly (by middle of next year) and extremely decisively. I find this amazing for a couple of reasons. First, it drives home the artificial nature of trans-fats. I’ve thought of them as similar to saturated fats in a lot of ways — things that are everywhere but should be avoided….

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