Linkblogging For 12/08/10

I have been nominated in Miss S.B.’s Very Prestigious And Entirely Serious Blog Awards (or the Willies for short). Oddly, there appears to have been some sort of administrative cock-up, and I have been placed in ‘Best Beardy Blogger’ rather than the correct ‘sexiest blogger’ category. Nonetheless, you should still vote for me – currently I’m in second place, one vote behind Tez Burke.

I have become fascinated by Frank “The Dave Sim of astrophysics” Tipler, recently. Tipler is an extremely gifted physicist who did major, important work in the 70s and 80s. He then, in the early 90s, claimed to have proved the existence of God, using physics. The book in which he did this, The Physics Of Immortality, is far more rational than you might think – respected scientists like David Deutsch have endorsed the main lines of its argument – but since then he’s spiraled into strangeness. If you want to read the workings of a brilliant, near-genius mind going at full speed but completely off the rails, then read this, an academic paper that purports to show that Obama’s refusal to endorse a Supreme Court Justice can be traced back to his bad understanding of physics (in a paper written by someone else but in the Harvard Law Review when Obama edited it, so Tipler is convinced Obama was the secret author). Along the way he tries to reintroduce the concept of the luminiferous aether to Relativity, argues that evolution must be incorrect in a universe where reverse timelike causation can happen, and claims that the film Starship Troopers will persuade people of the evils of so-called ‘partial birth abortion’. It’s quite the most bizarre thing I’ve ever read…

Some medics are proposing that statins should be given out free by fast food companies. Apart from the many other ways this is wrong, there are the small facts that cholesterol levels have nothing to do with heart disease and that statins don’t actually work…

In better health news though, yet another study showing a link between low vitamin C levels and cancer.

Britain Votes has a piece on the parallels between the recent electoral upsets in Canada over the last decade or so and what we can expect in the UK if we don’t get a proportional system.

And some of you may have heard about the supposed ‘proof’ of P!=NP. R.J. Lipton explains why it probably isn’t a proof, though it’s interesting work (not crackpottery, genuinely valuable mathematics), while for those who are confused, Ian Stewart explains P vs NP using Minesweeper

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One Response to Linkblogging For 12/08/10

  1. pillock says:

    Hm, the Canada article’s interesting, but it’s got a lot of misreadings in it. I’m not sure how much I should bend my brain to dismantling them in a comment here…I guess I should just say that while the recent elections have made me a believer in STV, it isn’t because of too much instability but of too much metastability in Parliament — both the Liberals and the Tories are playing for stalemate, the NDP sits firmly on the social-conscience vote and refuses (rightly, in my opinion) to contemplate compromise with either, the Greens (our LibDems) are nascent as yet, and the Bloc doesn’t care and couldn’t form an coalition anyway…at least, not a coalition in the ordinary sense.

    But what keeps it all a logjam is basically this: the Tories are far dumber and more right-of-centre than they ever have been before, since they swallowed the “Westerner’s” regional/nationalist party that came to prominence basically at the same time as the Bloc — a party largely of ex-Tories who’d calved off to move rightward, sort of like your UKIP? So no one wants to give a Tory/Reform blend a majority, and they likely wouldn’t even have a minority, if leadership squabbles among the Liberals hadn’t basically blown that party’s ability to hold the confidence of the electorate. Mind you that would all still be fine if we could get some governing done, but it just isn’t happening, so we wait, we wait, we wait, we wait. The only thing it’s better than is having either the Tories or Liberals in majority: the Tories because they’re crazy, and the Liberals because they’re arrogant. And I’m sure PR would make it better, but I don’t think you can really say that means it’s FPTP’s fault.

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