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Science

Paul Dirac’s PhD Thesis

Posted in Physics, Science on July 29th, 2013 by leodirac – 1 Comment

Recently my grandfather’s PhD thesis has found its way onto the Internet.  You can view a PDF of it here, courtesy of Florida State University: http://www.lib.fsu.edu/files/pdfs/dirac_1926_dissertation.pdf This fascinating document is significant in the history of science.  Its two-word title, “Quantum Mechanics” demonstrates how fundamental it was in opening up a new branch of science.  For […]

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Brain Simulation Tactics and Complexity Estimates

Posted in Analysis, Science, Transhumanism, Uploading on August 17th, 2010 by leodirac – 13 Comments

Ray Kurzweil recently predicted that we’d be able to reverse engineer the human brain by 2020.  He makes an argument that a brain simulator would need about a million lines of code: Here’s how that math works, Kurzweil explains: The design of the brain is in the genome. The human genome has three billion base […]

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How training in Physics is relevant to work at Google

Posted in Ego, Google, Physics, Science, Tech Industry on April 17th, 2010 by leodirac – Comments Off on How training in Physics is relevant to work at Google

As promised, I gave a talk at the Pacific Northwest Association of College Physicists conference today.  The topic was Physics at Google, or more specifically, “How a background in physics helps to solve Google’s engineering challenges.  Real-world examples of how making the world’s information accessible and useful leans on the principals of physics.”  My slides […]

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Space Weather

Posted in Geek, Physics, Science on April 16th, 2010 by leodirac – Comments Off on Space Weather

Recently some of my friends were discussing solar activity, and I learned that there’s a system for rating geomagnetic storms.  This recent one was a G3, which is fairly common and not that serious.  But about once per month on average there will be a G4 storm which can interfere with GPS navigation and even […]

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The Paradoxes of Color Temperature

Posted in Physics, Science, Seattle, Sustainability on February 22nd, 2009 by leodirac – Comments Off on The Paradoxes of Color Temperature

Last week I went to the Indoor Sun Shoppe in Fremont and got a couple new CF bulbs for the house. I love their selection — they have everything from tiny 7W candelabra bulbs to these massive 150W bulbs that look like death-rays. A giant 105W bulb (pictured) is now trying to make my monstera deliciosa’s home in the living room a little more like tropical mexico and less like winter-in-seattle. In addition to a huge range of powers, they also clearly show you the color temperature of each bulb. Some of my friends have avoided CF bulbs because of…

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LHC blue-screens the world

Posted in Ego, Humor, Philosophy, Physics, Science, Transhumanism on September 9th, 2008 by leodirac – 3 Comments

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for quite a while, and I figured tonight might be my last chance. Plenty of people have been worrying about how the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) could destroy the planet by creating small black-holes that might suck in the entire earth. As the good folks at CERN re-assure us, everything is fine. I pretty much believe this. That is to say, I’m pretty sure LHC will not destroy all life as we know it. Pretty sure. Otherwise, we’ve all got a few more hours to live. So long as my buddy Stephen Hawking’s…

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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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Do We Live in a Simulation? Implications for Morality and the Beauty of Physics.

Posted in Analysis, Philosophy, Physics, Science, Transhuman Morality, Transhumanism, Uploading on August 24th, 2007 by leodirac – 3 Comments

There’s been a lot of fuss lately about Nick Bostrom’s ideas that we live in a simulation as a result of an article in the New York Times. Here I’ll provide some analysis of Bostrom’s bold claim, including a proposed mechanism to explain my grandfather’s assertion that mathematical simplicity and beauty were indicators of underlying truth. I’ll also explore the implications of this possibility to our daily lives, and show why this is another reason to follow Transhuman Morality. Simplified Simulation or Complete, Accurate Model? The simulations Bostrom describes would not be precise to the subatomic level, but rather use…

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Why does smoked food taste so good? Evolution.

Posted in Cooking, Evolution, Science on August 17th, 2007 by leodirac – 1 Comment

Last night I cooked a chicken the really old-fashioned way: by roasting it over an open wood fire. My buddy Mez and I made many observations about how much of an evolutionary throwback our dinner was. Open fire cooking clearly precedes the invention of the oven. It is incredibly inefficient in its use of fuel. Most of the heat goes up into the air. The food must be balanced at an appropriate distance to get the right amount of heat without burning to a crisp. There’s an evolutionary advantage to cooking food — it kills parasites, bacteria and other food-borne…

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Naturopathy: the Difficult choice

Posted in Cooking, Hacks, Health, Personal Growth, Science on June 13th, 2007 by leodirac – Comments Off on Naturopathy: the Difficult choice

My girlfriend has an auto-immune skin condition called psoriasis that gives her rashes. For some people the condition gets serious enough that patients and MD’s turn to drugs that suppress T-cells, the part of the immune system which causes the inflammation. Turning down the volume level on your immune system has all sorts of easily predictable side-effects, but for people whose immune systems are just a little too enthusiastic it can be the right choice. My girlfriend’s condition has gotten worse in recent months, to the point where immuno-suppresents seem reasonable. But instead, she’s opted to do something much more…

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