Search found 308 matches

by Aiwendil
Wed Feb 12, 2014 1:26 am UTC
Forum: General
Topic: Nerdy Pet Peeves
Replies: 445
Views: 107037

Re: Nerdy Pet Peeves

When people (typically in arguments with Creatonists) say, "We're not descended from apes and monkeys; we just share a common ancestor with them." This has always bothered me too. We are apes, and we're descended from other apes. And to refuse to call the common ancestor of old world monk...
by Aiwendil
Sat Jan 11, 2014 5:16 pm UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: Are physics in the particles, or reality itself?
Replies: 60
Views: 10655

Re: Are physics in the particles, or reality itself?

I'm going to get ever so slightly philosophical and point out that it's not necessarily the case that there is a meaningful difference between 'the laws of physics are the way they are because of the specific particles in which they're expressed' and 'the laws of physics are part of reality itself'....
by Aiwendil
Sat Dec 28, 2013 11:49 pm UTC
Forum: Books
Topic: xkcd's favourite 100 books - vote now!
Replies: 226
Views: 162689

Re: xkcd's favourite 100 books - vote now!

You also have two novels from Orson Scott Card's Ender series listed as separate entries (Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead).


That's intentional. There are a bunch of people (including me) who wanted to vote for Ender's Game, but not the series as a whole.
by Aiwendil
Wed Dec 04, 2013 3:57 pm UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: "She did not much like him, but she liked HIS liking her."
Replies: 8
Views: 4470

Re: "She did not much like him, but she liked HIS liking her

I have what many would call dangerous prescriptivist tendencies, but even I agree that there is nothing wrong with either form. In: She did not much like him, but she liked him liking her. . . . the object of 'liked' is 'him', and 'liking' is a participle modifying 'him'. In She did not much like hi...
by Aiwendil
Fri Nov 29, 2013 6:36 pm UTC
Forum: What If?
Topic: What-If 0073: "Lethal Neutrinos"
Replies: 128
Views: 47214

Re: What-If 0073: "Lethal Neutrinos"

This also reminded me of a quotation from a physicist who introduced the neutrino but now I can't find it anymore. Maybe it was Fermi but I'n not quite sure. The quote something like "I've committed the ultimate sin in physics - I've introduced an undetectable particle". That was Wolfgang...
by Aiwendil
Sat Sep 07, 2013 3:07 pm UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: Female equivalent for "guy"
Replies: 49
Views: 23576

Re: Female equivalent for "guy"

It seems to me that 'gal' is the traditional female equivalent of 'guy', but that, at least in my idiolect, it is now too infrequently used to completely fill that role. It would be nice if 'guy' could be gender-neutral. In my usage it is sometimes used gender-neutrally, but only in restricted cases...
by Aiwendil
Sun Aug 25, 2013 2:46 am UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: The etymology of wif, wer and mann
Replies: 10
Views: 7484

Re: The etymology of wif, wer and mann

I would turn to Bosworth and Toller: http://lexicon.ff.cuni.cz/html/oe_bosworthtoller/b0668.html Their definition is 'MAN, a human being of either sex'. And the first quote given, from Aelfric's grammar, is pretty clear: ægþer is mann ge wer ge wíf , i.e. 'a mann is either a man or a woman'. This an...
by Aiwendil
Fri Mar 29, 2013 1:38 am UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1190: "Time"
Replies: 106217
Views: 37912297

Re: 1190: "Time"

AV Club wrote an article about the One Comic. Probably doesn't mean anything... The AV Club article says: and, as people did for the first six hours or so, trading images, observations, and theories about developments. Six hours? Okay, I understand that they must have meant 'twelve newpix', but it'...
by Aiwendil
Thu Mar 28, 2013 4:34 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1190: "Time"
Replies: 106217
Views: 37912297

Re: 1190: "Time"

Dialog?

Dialogue!
by Aiwendil
Thu Mar 28, 2013 3:33 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1190: "Time"
Replies: 106217
Views: 37912297

Re: 1190: "Time"

backwrds wrote:Haha! Join me and follow the way of the snow.

For snow will melt and all will begin again!


Are we witnessing the first Great Schism of the TimeWaiter religion? Or is Snowism just another heresy that Time will soon forget?
by Aiwendil
Thu Mar 28, 2013 3:12 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1190: "Time"
Replies: 106217
Views: 37912297

Re: 1190: "Time"

LordCathbad wrote:Fine then. The castles are an analogy to babies. The flags are an analogy for cancer.


So . . . they made one baby, then made a bunch more, and then decided to give them all cancer? Art is weird.
by Aiwendil
Mon Mar 18, 2013 11:15 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1187: "Aspect Ratio"
Replies: 92
Views: 18620

Re: 1187: "Aspect Ratio"

What I don't understand is why people are willing to pay so much money for a nice high-definition TV but are then perfectly fine with watching a grotesquely distorted image on it. I mean, if they don't care about the image quality, why on earth did they spend so much money on it? And if they do care...
by Aiwendil
Fri Mar 15, 2013 9:11 am UTC
Forum: Mathematics
Topic: Infinite Sets
Replies: 18
Views: 3195

Re: Infinite Sets

Is there some axiom that allows you to have some set consisting of all other sets? In ZFC, there is no such set, as Jestingrabbit explained. However, some axiomatic systems do have a set of all sets (the 'universal set'), notably Quine's 'New Foundations'. It gets around Russell's paradox by requir...
by Aiwendil
Fri Feb 22, 2013 2:24 pm UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: Effectively writing Long sentences in English
Replies: 36
Views: 12521

Re: Effectively writing Long sentences in English

'but', specifically, may be too restrictive - I should probably rephrase that as 'the two clauses should be contrasting'. That's still too restrictive. In fact, I'd say it's more usual for the second clause to reinforce or explain the first, rather than contrast with it. For example: "I use se...
by Aiwendil
Fri Feb 22, 2013 10:33 am UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: Effectively writing Long sentences in English
Replies: 36
Views: 12521

Re: Effectively writing Long sentences in English

The two clauses, although related, could stand alone
The implied missing conjunction is 'but'


The first point is certainly correct, but the second is much too restrictive.
by Aiwendil
Wed Feb 13, 2013 2:29 pm UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: Odd use of "they've" or similar
Replies: 11
Views: 4444

Re: Odd use of "they've" or similar

To my ear, the contraction of has/have/had is fine when it's an auxiliary verb (like 'I've finished the book I was reading') or when it's a lexical verb meaning 'to possess' (as in the first and third of your examples), but not when it expresses necessity (as in the second of your examples). But the...
by Aiwendil
Sun Feb 03, 2013 3:45 pm UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: why doesn't dark matter collapse into black holes?
Replies: 7
Views: 2326

Re: why doesn't dark matter collapse into black holes?

Neutrinos have in fact long been one of the possible explanations for what dark matter is, though I think they are discredited as a possible explanation these days. That's right. The reason that ordinary neutrinos are not considered a possible explanation of dark matter is that astronomical and Cos...
by Aiwendil
Thu Jan 31, 2013 10:20 am UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: Begging the Question
Replies: 19
Views: 9825

Re: Begging the Question

"Begging the question" is, I suspect, misused 100% of the time No, it's not. One still hears/sees it used in the 'correct' way in academic writing and discussion, in subjects like analytic philosophy, for example. True, in ordinary, everyday speech, it is probably 'misused' close to 100% ...
by Aiwendil
Thu Dec 13, 2012 10:11 pm UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: "needs fixed" vs. "needs to be fixed"
Replies: 25
Views: 20803

Re: "needs fixed" vs. "needs to be fixed"

lowbar wrote:Before reading the thread I thought it sounded like one of those weird things they do in British English, like "try and do this" instead of "try to do".


Wait, is that a British thing? I feel like I've heard that all my life here in the northeastern U.S.
by Aiwendil
Mon Nov 19, 2012 6:29 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1132: "Frequentists vs. Bayesians"
Replies: 169
Views: 46744

Re: 1132: "Frequentists vs. Bayesians"

I only mentioned speculativeness in attempt as to explain why one can have such a strong intuition that some hypotheses are more probable than others. Okay, in that case, this is exactly the same as setting Bayesian priors via a 'strong intuition'. Which, I agree, is what we do. But (as indeed you ...
by Aiwendil
Mon Nov 19, 2012 3:34 pm UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: Effects on Quantum Physics Interpretation (theory)
Replies: 9
Views: 1400

Re: Effects on Quantum Physics Interpretation (theory)

I think I phrased that badly. Yes, given Special Relativity, faster than light in some frame implies simultaneity in some other frame. But there is still a difference between an effect propagating from point A to point B faster than light (so that, yes, it will propagate instantaneously in some fram...
by Aiwendil
Sun Nov 18, 2012 7:05 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1132: "Frequentists vs. Bayesians"
Replies: 169
Views: 46744

Re: 1132: "Frequentists vs. Bayesians"

Well, we don't really have to justify that sort of thing. We can assume that the universe is predictable by our mental processes; if it isn't, there isn't anything else we can do. Then we can try to make the best use of the data we got. Ah, but you have to assume more than just that the universe is...
by Aiwendil
Sun Nov 18, 2012 5:41 am UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: Effects on Quantum Physics Interpretation (theory)
Replies: 9
Views: 1400

Re: Effects on Quantum Physics Interpretation (theory)

The point of quantum mechanics is that there aren't actually any hidden variables The point of quantum mechancis is to describe phenomena. It's true that Bell's theorem shows that no local hidden-variable interpretation is possible, but it is perfectly possible to have a non-local hidden variable i...
by Aiwendil
Sun Nov 18, 2012 3:32 am UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1132: "Frequentists vs. Bayesians"
Replies: 169
Views: 46744

Re: 1132: "Frequentists vs. Bayesians"

What you have is the probability of rain given storm warning or given darkness outside, and given the theory of how rain works. This is well defined by the model, akin to how probability of fair die rolling 6 is well defined by our model of symmetrical die that does sufficient number of bounces. On...
by Aiwendil
Sat Nov 17, 2012 8:20 pm UTC
Forum: General
Topic: From the subjective to the objective
Replies: 2
Views: 1236

Re: From the subjective to the objective

It seems to me that in hue-saturation-value coordinates, 'colourful colours' would be those with with high saturation and high value. In other words, you'd just want a function of saturation and value that was monotonically increasing in both. It is an interesting question, though, whether hue plays...
by Aiwendil
Sat Nov 17, 2012 7:44 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1132: "Frequentists vs. Bayesians"
Replies: 169
Views: 46744

Re: 1132: "Frequentists vs. Bayesians"

Assigning it probability is not solving, it's pretending that you solved. What's about mass, in kilograms, of the probability of God? Would you fault me for not assigning it a mass in kilograms? What if I need this mass for shipping my theology manuscript without having scales? What, you don't have...
by Aiwendil
Thu Nov 15, 2012 10:45 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1132: "Frequentists vs. Bayesians"
Replies: 169
Views: 46744

Re: 1132: "Frequentists vs. Bayesians"

The issue is what probability, specifically, want you to assign? And how do you pick priors? Using frequentist-ish reasoning? As I said, I don't have an answer. This is a very deep problem. Certainly, in some restricted cases it makes sense to use frequentist-ish reasoning - e.g. in the classic cas...
by Aiwendil
Wed Nov 14, 2012 9:07 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1132: "Frequentists vs. Bayesians"
Replies: 169
Views: 46744

Re: 1132: "Frequentists vs. Bayesians"

But isn't it true that it has been proven that nothing in the real world can be measured precisely? Once you get below Planck's Constant then there is no way anything can ever be measured, and every precise measurement will involve Planck's constant one way or another. So we know that there can nev...
by Aiwendil
Wed Nov 14, 2012 6:04 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1132: "Frequentists vs. Bayesians"
Replies: 169
Views: 46744

Re: 1132: "Frequentists vs. Bayesians"

You are to assign a non-zero, not even very small probability that it is totally, completely correct, to a theory, that it may literally be the great truth of how universe works. To any theory that is consistent and not (yet) directly contradicted by empirical data, yes. It seems perfectly reasonab...
by Aiwendil
Tue Nov 13, 2012 8:35 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1132: "Frequentists vs. Bayesians"
Replies: 169
Views: 46744

Re: 1132: "Frequentists vs. Bayesians"

Since wumpus refers to HPMOR, I think he's talking about Yudkowsky & co. Yes I meant Yudkowsky and crew. I am not exactly sure who else self-identifies with "Bayesian" enough to call themselves that This mostly comes from one somewhat infamous non-mathematician non-physicist "rat...
by Aiwendil
Sun Nov 11, 2012 11:07 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1132: "Frequentists vs. Bayesians"
Replies: 169
Views: 46744

Re: 1132: "Frequentists vs. Bayesians"

As far as the self-proclaimed "Bayesians", all they appear to do with the self-proclaimed super rationality is to ignore their own mistakes and fall into groupthink. The most obvious one is the absolute certainty of the many worlds hypothesis of quantum physics. I'm confused. I've never m...
by Aiwendil
Sat Nov 10, 2012 8:01 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1132: "Frequentists vs. Bayesians"
Replies: 169
Views: 46744

Re: 1132: "Frequentists vs. Bayesians"

I think one of the central things to take away from this cartoon is the notion that deciding on significance (or truth) with a p value of < 0.05 is all too common yet a p value of < 0.05 is only as common as rolling a double six Actually, I don't think that's the point of the comic at all. It's not...
by Aiwendil
Fri Nov 09, 2012 5:34 pm UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: Why do some people believe the universe is infinite?
Replies: 91
Views: 12994

Re: Why do some people believe the universe is infinite?

First of all of the universe started from a single point and expanded. We don't know that. All that we know is that about 13.75 billion years ago, the universe was extremely hot and dense, and it's been expanding and cooling ever since. I don't think I'd trust any description of what the universe w...
by Aiwendil
Fri Nov 09, 2012 5:47 am UTC
Forum: Music
Topic: Duets and Harmonies
Replies: 13
Views: 13288

Re: Duets and Harmonies

lutzj wrote:anything Beach Boys would find a good place in this thread.


That's for sure.
by Aiwendil
Fri Nov 09, 2012 5:38 am UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1132: "Frequentists vs. Bayesians"
Replies: 169
Views: 46744

Re: 1132: "Frequentists vs. Bayesians"

That's one really small neutrino detector!
by Aiwendil
Thu Nov 08, 2012 2:46 pm UTC
Forum: Music
Topic: Duets and Harmonies
Replies: 13
Views: 13288

Re: Duets and Harmonies

Brian Wilson - Good Vibrations IMO, he does better with more tracks of himself than the rest of the Beach Boys. Huh? Wasn't the '04 Smile version done with members of the Wondermints? It's not just Brian multi-tracked. Or perhaps I misunderstand you. I'll admit, though, I prefer the Beach Boys vers...
by Aiwendil
Wed Nov 07, 2012 10:51 pm UTC
Forum: What If?
Topic: What-If 0019: "Tie Vote"
Replies: 57
Views: 20987

Re: What-If 0019: Tie vote

As to why they created the system they did, when they were writing the Constitution, in 1787, they were assuming there would be no parties. This was very utopian thinking, because there had been parties in Britain, and it was obvious there were factions developing in America. So if you have no part...
by Aiwendil
Mon Nov 05, 2012 3:02 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1130: "Poll Watching"
Replies: 87
Views: 15181

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

PROTIP: THE DEMS WILL ENACT THE REP CHANGES ANYWAY! AND THE REPS WILL ENACT THE DEM CHANGES ANYWAY! Because in both cases, they are controlled by the same lobbyists, have revolving doors with the same companies (all of them) and will show you the same propaganda on TV to brainwash you into believin...
by Aiwendil
Wed Oct 31, 2012 8:46 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1128: "Fifty Shades"
Replies: 41
Views: 11523

Re: 1128: "Fifty Shades"

To be fair, I don't think anyone under the age of 70 ever read Ivanhoe.


I have read Ivanhoe. I am under the age of 70.
by Aiwendil
Thu Oct 04, 2012 7:33 pm UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: I have some questions about the standard model
Replies: 12
Views: 2417

Re: I have some questions about the standard model

I believe the issue with the weak interaction is that its effective strength is reduced by the fact that it is carried by massive bosons, which decay quickly. So while the intrinsic coupling constant is something like 0.652, the effective strength of the weak interaction relative to the strong inter...

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