+  2022-12-26 12:59

A review of Nick Lane’s “The Vital Question” is easy to write: just re-arrange a dozen of his own passages. The book itself, though, is not easy to read.

Unless… you understand at least the main principles of #physics, #chemistry and Latin.

However interesting the author’s main thesis — “I will lay out a hypothesis that connects #energy and #evolution” — it won’t resonate with those of us who’ve slept through the high school hard science classes, or have erased #thermodynamics, electromagnetism and valence

from their memory after graduation, the seemingly useless prerequisites for adulthood.

The author promises to describe his point “in enough detail that I can be proved wrong, while writing as accessibly and as excitingly as I can.

I’ve tried to avoid unnecessary jargon and have included occasional reminders of the meaning of terms; but beyond that I hope you will gain familiarity with recurring terms. With the occasional double check, I hope this book will be wholly accessible to anyone who is interested.”

And therein lies the problem. A few pages later, the jovial language of grandeur and metaphor shifts to “isotopic fractionation reported in the #graphite inclusions” and hops to the discussion of “prions — perfectly normal proteins that spontaneously refold into semicrystalline

structures that act as a template for more refolded prions, where the overall entropy barely changes.”

If you can follow the meaning of the above — hey, congrats, you’ve kept your knowledge sharp and up-to-date. Read on.

Actually, this thread is getting so long, it might be easier to continue reading the book’s review on my website:…

 +  2022-06-06 12:42

Disappointed by Carlo Rovelli’s “Order of Time”. Reads more like a #physicist’s hobby project in #creativeWriting (though quite a poetic one)… rather than a container of eye-opening, bleeding-edge information.

Main ideas: #time is quantized, entropy increases with time, time is local and relative, we don’t know how to reconcile general relativity with quantum mechanics, because we don’t understand time. 🤦🏻‍♂️


Also, I’m afraid most of us who skipped #physics and #philosophy classes won’t understand a thing reading through this tasteful collection of quotes and references (from thermodynamics or Mahabharata).

 +  2022-06-04 23:18

What better idea than to re-visit my understanding of the Wheeler–DeWitt equation before bed? Really, what could go wrong? 🙃


 +  2022-05-18 11:53

One of the reasons we must change the way #physics and biology are taught in #school is to avoid this kind of BS poured into “educated adults” later on.

Our basic metabolism rate difference is not _that_ different, few people track their daily caloric intake / output with appropriate tools & discipline… and finally, the third person #running 10 miles a week? Ahem…

Better to walk at a brisk pace (spare those joints and stay at optimal HR)… Oh, and, sorry, 10 miles a week doesn’t contribute that much of caloric output. But does provide other goodies.

 +  2020-10-01 03:57

Can anyone explain to me why we’re not taught statistical #physics (mechanics) in #school, please? 🤷🏻‍♂️

 +  2020-09-23 03:43

Doesn’t the technological mismatch between primitive ballistic auto-rifles and the exorbitant energy density powering a Necromancer of the #RaisedByWolves series make you cringe? 🤯

That Necromancer is MASSIVE!


 +  2015-07-15 12:08

Excellent @RichardDawkins talk on why most #humans struggle with high-level #science concepts like quantum #physics:…

 +  2015-04-01 13:25

I think we’ve gone too short on brevity / verbosity scale in #math and #physics for vars and const. Conflicts abound:…

 +  2011-05-18 22:11

“We don’t know anything about what was before [the Big Bang]. If there was a before.” – excellent #LHC #physics article:

 +  2009-09-21 17:58

Uh oh! Rereading the spacetime singularity theory reveals some serious memory deactivation. Time to brush up my #physics.


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