Portico - from J.J. Lankes Painter-graver on wood (1921) HERE.
Friday 30 December 2016
Fine experimental physicists are woefully under appreciated. In a science that is now dominated by fearsomely mathematical and abstract frameworks it is easy to forget that the outstanding breakthroughs of this science have been driven as much by exquisite experimental invention as mathematical pyrotechnics.
This paper from 1890 is a superb descripton of the experiments that the British scientist Sir Charles Vernon Boys (1855-1944) performed more than 125 years ago - using a small pine cross-bow to drag small blobs of molten quartz into fibres that were well below the resolving power of a light microscope. As well as being a Fellow of the Royal Society, C.V. Boys was renowned for his manual dexterity in his public demonstrations of his experiments, and for his sense of humour as a practical joker.
The image above is a summary of this work and HERE is the full paper.
Posted by Matt at 21:20
Thursday 29 December 2016
In the past 30 years there has been a pronounced shift in the acceptability of Bayesian methods of inference and in particular the work of the American physicist Ed Jaynes. This MSc thesis from the University of Amsterdam brings some of the story up to date, in particular referencing Jaynes' Mind-Project Fallacy ("...we are all under an ego-driven temptation to project our private thoughts out onto the real world, by supposing that the creations of one’s own imagination are real properties of Nature, or that one’s own ignorance signifies some kind of indecision on the part of Nature.").
Posted by Matt at 07:55
Saturday 17 December 2016
The American Design writer Phil Patton (1952-2015) died late last year. His obituary in the New York Times is HERE.
Patton focused his considerable intellect and intense observational skills on the mundane artefacts that suround us. He saw what most people do not see in mundane artefacts: they are all too complex to have been invented by a single human. They are all the result of a co-operative development of skills, materials and shared assumptions that have been developed over many generations.
A typical example of Patton's intense scrutiny was his study of the design, economics and utility of disposable coffee cup lids. HERE is his blog post on the subject.
Posted by Matt at 08:39