on Science & Information

Musings on Science, Epistemology, Information, Pop Science and Psuedo-Science

Matters General

Random, Unedited Thoughts on the Universe. By which I mean exactly what it looks like I mean.

Putting the "fund" in fundamental science research (9 Jul 2009). Paying for science is never pretty. That should be enough said, but you know me...I go around and up and down and near a rant on it.

The power of doubt in research (2 Feb 2010). I explore how self-doubt can be used for the good, in opposition to thousands of better written books (well, not that much better written) telling you it is the greatest sin. Not only can it be good, but it might just required for good research?

Why the Christy "returning to the climate of our grandparents" only looks at half the picture, though I agree with the general conclusions (30 Jun 2012). John Christy looked at average high temperatures across the state and found that it used to be really hot here and so lately it has not been so much warming up as returning to the norm, but I do feel like pointing out *one* thing.

Matters Physical, Astronomical, or Chemical

Thinking about planetary-sun distance in more every-day terms. I.E., briefly: Will our Sun bake us like a potato? (15 Nov 2009). If you were to discuss the massive distances between the Sun and the various planets, in more everyday terms and with "to-scale" models made up of smaller distances, what sort of numbers would you get?

Matters Chronological or Quantum(ish)

Scenes from a Backwards Universe. Where I muse about what works and what is weird with our universe, by showing how it works backwards. Also just a mental exercise in mirth.

A Smart Ass Looks at Alternate Dimensions and Their Impact on the Court System. I play around with the notions of alternate universes.

Matters Probabalistic and Coincidental

Coincidence, synchronicity, and other things going bump, together, in the night... (11 October 10).

Matters Biological or Psychological

Actual ways to answer the question: Does Human Flesh Taste Like Pork? (20 May 2009). I mean, we all wonder about this, right? There are ways to find out for sure.

The Truth (and Clarification) of Plastic in Soft-Serve Icecream, Fast Food Shakes, and more (aka somewhat apologies to Alicia) (15 Jun 2009). No, there is no plastic in McDonald's milkshakes. Yes, there are other things to look for.

In response to Niko's "The Impossibility of the Posthuman Event" (17 Dec 2009). My friend Niko pondered on the impossibility of the posthuman event. I'm not sure about the impossibility of the event itself, but I do discuss some barriers to us ever knowing it.

From CNN.com: Girls Reaching Puberty Early (18 Aug 2010).

Matters of Information Science

The bits here look specifically at information science. I have more library and librarian related stuff on my "...on Words & Libraries" page.

Some Observations on ASK (7 Jun 2009). Musings and thoughts about Anamolous States of Knowledge. We do not know what we do not know...and this hoses the whole thing, sometimes.

On the Many Ways Language Can Go Wrong (3 Jul 2009). How can language break down? Oh, a lot of ways.

Morning, non sunshine, off to work and an information adage (31 Jul 2009). Only one portion of thise thing relates to this section, but it's a basic summation of the relation of the difficulty in finding information, and it's specificity.

Doug talks crazy talk; aka memes, reality, subjectiveness, being phildickian, information, and more... (15 Sep 2009). I mostly ramble on and on, but I talk about how objective reality and subjective reality are not the same thing, concepts of meme filters, and how you can use the latter to manipulate the middle to recreate the former. If you are evil. Dun dun dunnnnnn.

From zero to five stars in Facebook, applying common sense Information science to a sluggish social networking giant (17 Feb 2010). Facebook is massive. Millions of people use it. So many millions that it is on it's way to approaching the "b" word. We are talking about a country sized population. And, well, really it is almost unusable...let me tell how it is, and why it is, and one way to fix it.

Doug's quick test to find out if that guy on the message board really *is* a professional (23 Apr 2010). Did you read on IMDB.com that someone is a some sort of movie guru who has always acted as DOP on a billion films and so knows more about the subject than you do? How about on a news-story where some "doctro" [sic] is claiming that there is no way he can stay in business now that health care reform has passed? What about someone who claims that she was there when they unveiled the aliens at Roswell? Is she a professional? Here's a quick test to find out.

Why don't we take what we say online seriously? (aka, do others take it too seriously...) (3 Jun 2010). A man tweeted that he would 'blow up an airport', later described by his attorney as a 'Basil Fawlty' moment, after authorities reacted to what he said. A few years back (decade or more, maybe) one guy had his college career somewhat derailed after posting what was taken to be a suicide note. I personally had a roommate that loved to 'attack by proxy' and then acted surprised when someone complained. Is this a case of people not watching what they write or a case of other just not getting the joke?

Growing up thinking that fish and milk were poison together... (22 June 2010). "It was a big deal in my family that fish and milk would kill you if taken together. Fresh fish and whole milk, it was sometimes appended. Sometimes it was just any milk and any fish. I knew something was up with that, because they would serve fish-sticks and milk at school lunches; but I assumed that fish sticks weren't proper fish, an assumption not exactly full of untruth. I do not know where it came from, but it was not the only binary poison system..." On families as an information gathering unit, on world-creature due to boredom, and on why wrong information does not necessarily mean you are ignorant.

Article on Dr. Charles Lundquist's and UAH's Agony and Ecstasy with restoring old NASA documents from outdated technologies (5 Jul 2013). Some vital (and generally useful) documents are sitting in out-of-date file formats. UAH is helping the cause.

Matters Ecological

The least satisfying [but possibly truest] argument against Peak Oil (13 Apr 2011). Peak Oil predicts we will eventually reach a point where demand will strip supply in oil, and this will create a massive issue as societies based around cheapish petroleum are strained. In a 2010 interview, a BP Chief Economist Cristof Ruhl gives an extremely unsatisfying but likely truest response to the concept of Peak Oil.

Matters Mathematical

Polish hand math, proof that math is black magic! (from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal) (23 Jun 2010).

On Matters of Popularizing Science

Holy Neptune's Nascent Nebula! Star Gazer (nee Star Hustler) is still active! (18 Aug 2010).

Gary Gutting on what science (and scientific reporting) is doing, and why it seems to go so wrong so often (26 Apr 2013). There does seem to be something wrong with scientific reporting, but whose fault is it? Gary Gutting wrote about it, and now I'll write about him writing about it.

Matters Experimental

An idea for a student experiment: scattered tennis balls as introduction to data and error (25 Jun 2010).

Matters Skeptical

Ah, Skepticism...the case of the Christian textbook for science and the question of electricity [Anti-Science, maybe] (4 Jul 2010).

Philosophy One...oh, Doug

Philosophy One...oh, Doug: I Think, Therefore I Am (30 Mar 2010). Cogito ergo Sum, possibly the most quoted line from all of philosophy, and easily one of the most misquoted. When Descartes, the avuncular figure of modern thought, wrote those lines: was he really postulating that thought might, in fact, be the foundation of existence? Or was he up to something trickier? I'll give one example why, in philosophy, always bet on the "tricky" horse.

Written by Doug Bolden

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"The hidden is greater than the seen."