August 2007

Here is an interesting blog post analyzing theories about why people are eating more shrimp than was previously the case. In short, people without training in economics seem to focus more on the demand side than people with such training. One response that surprised me was “a rise in the number of vegetarians who will […]


Still pondering the controversy about the display in the Canadian War Museum, I decided to go have a look at it first-hand. On the basis of what I saw, I am even more convinced that the display is fair and balanced, and that it should not be altered in response to pressure from veterans. Here, […]


On September 4th, an organization called the U.S. Climate Emergency Council is holding a 24-hour fast meant to further raise awareness about global warming. As such gestures go, it seems like quite an appropriate one. The burdens of climate change are likely to fall most heavily on the poorest people and there is good reason […]


Truly random numbers are hard to find, as patterns tend to abound everywhere. This is problematic, because there are times when a completely random string of digits is necessary: whether you are choosing the winner of a raffle or generating the one-time pad that secures the line from the White House to the Kremlin. Using […]


The Earth is developing a bald spot. No wonder so many states are clamouring to assert their Arctic claims. Of course, if they find substantial quantities of fossil fuels down there (while expending a good bit just looking) it will only make things worse. In addition to the image above, Neal sent me this animation. […]


251.4 million years ago, the earth experienced the most severe extinction event ever recorded. The Permian-Triassic (P-Tr) extinction event (informally referred to as the Great Dying) involved the loss of 90% of all extant species. This included about 96% of all marine species and 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species. There are a number of theories […]


For those who missed the annual Perseid meteor shower, there is another chance to see some debris vaporizing in our atmosphere this week. The Aurigids are a much rarer shower, generated by comet Kiess (C/1911 N1) passing near the sun around 4 C.E. Gravity from the Earth and other planets sometimes creates dust trails that […]


Today’s Ottawa Citizen has an article about how the Canadian War Museum is being pressured to change some of the text in its Bomber Command exhibit. Veterans had complained that it makes them out to be war criminals. The text reads: “The value and morality of the strategic bomber offensive against Germany remains bitterly contested. […]


Just a word in passing: this phase in the long history of my blog has now run for two full years. a sibilant intake of breath first emerged on this day, back in 2005. Since then, I have started and finished an M.Phil at Oxford and moved into a relevant and interesting job. I wonder […]


It is nearly always interesting to see complex data presented in a new way – particularly as a visualization. The way this one arose was actually very mathematical, based on equations for modeling the strength of electromagnetic fields. The dense cluster on the left is a tangle of high school and undergrad. The much smaller […]