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Brexit In Name Only?

Here are some of the things you might not have heard about post-Brexit Britain: since the vote wages are up by 2.8 per cent, unemployment the lowest in 43 years, more people are in employment than ever before, manufacturing orders are at their highest level since 1988. Exports are up almost 10 and a half per cent, more inward investment projects than ever before and sterling is the strongest currency in the G10.

If you live across the channel or skim the pages of the Economist, the Financial or the New York Times and I were to take a stern guess, that's not the narrative you've been hearing about. You've heard something different. You've probably heard a kind of begrudging pessimism from remain-supporters. A tired a dreary bunch who push back the date of the apocalypse like they were doomsday occultists.

Oddly enough, it's the most euro-enthusiastic who expect Brussels to be the nastiest in negotiations. Something has changed though; most eurocrats no longer speak…
Recent posts

There's No One Left To Lie To

Mali, Guinea Bissau, Niger, its only sometimes that a military coup leads to greater democratization but it happens, occasionally. Burkina Faso, Burundi, were fought over extending term limits, Togo and Guinea, over succession—more often this is how these things go—a conciliation of power, rarely ever devolution to the people.

It's difficult not to be happy about the removal of, as grotesque and cartoonish a figure as Mugabe. His violent rhetoric, his ululating grandstands, his Hollywood-style motorcades, none of it will go having been missed but his departure doesn't inspire much hope for moderation. Zimbabwwe is one of the most corrupt countries in the world and what we're seeing from Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Zanu-PF and the nations military coup is a fight to keep it that way.

Under Mugabe, Rhodesia declined from a jewel in Southern Africa, with a surplus, now tarnished and left in starvation like a Weimar Republic. Poverty at seventy-two per cent, inflation peaking at …

Simulation Argument

Sometimes when certain ideas are ravaging the scientific press, it's well deserved, a lot of the time it's not. I imagine by now most people have probably heard of the Simulation Argument, it comes from a 2003 paper by the philosopher Nick Bostrom. Essentially it's a statistical argument to the affect, that we're very likely living in a simulated universe rather than a real one. The argument goes something like this:

1. It's possible to simulate a universe like ours, with the kinds of experience we have in this world.

2. Perhaps far in the future, the technology to do so will exist and become sufficiently wide spread.

3. Future beings will be interested in running ancestor simulations of their past.

4. If 1-3 are true, then in the entire history of the universe simulated worlds will vastly out number real ones.

We should assume we’re typical observers and so therefore we are likely living in a simulated world rather than a real one. A lot of people like the idea th…

Inaction in Syria is Unconscionable

There are those events in history that define real evil, they stain our conscience long after they've past, Bosnia, Rwanda, Halabja, and now, Syria.

To all but the most committed conspiracy theorists, Assad is guilty. Activists from the Violations Documentation Center (VDC) reported two separate attacks involving the use of chemical weapons in the Eastern Ghouta region. Independently, the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations also received reports of two separate incidents and we know from both the Syria Civil Defence and the Syrian American Medical Society that those hundreds exposed to the attack were brought to medical facilities where they showed symptoms consistent with exposure to a chemical agent. 

That in addition to the blood and urine samples, there's hardly any room for serious doubt over what happened, large compressed gas cylinders were used in the attack, of the same type used in previous aerial raids. Aircraft spotters reportedMi-8 Hip helicopters in the…

The 'Inflation Debate' in Cosmology Continues

Last year Scientific American published a controversial article titled "Pop goes the Universe", the three authors Anna Ljjas, Paul Steinhardt and Abraham Leob are skeptics of inflationary cosmology and they gave their reasons why. That was followed with a letter signed by 33 physicists who study cosmology, denouncing the article that had been published.

Originally I didn't even want to comment, the whole business of signing a letter calling for a retraction instead of writing to the editor rubs me the wrong way. It reminds me when a hundred Nazi scientists were called on to denounce Einstein, if he were wrong you'd only have needed one. Science media should be an open space where people are allowed to hear about controversies in physics. Inflation is not a well established scientific theory like the Big Bang or evolution, and some very highly respected theoretical physicists are in real doubt.

Inflation probably is the correct theory, it's the best worked out mo…

Is Quantum Cosmology Serious Physics?

Alexander Vilenkin, one of the major contributors to the field.

Quantum cosmology is in an incredibly infantile and esoteric branch of theoretical physics; with a whole series of practical and conceptual problems. Chris Isham says because of these, no one is really sure whether quantum cosmology is even a valid branch of science, or whether the whole project is just misconceived.

The unique claim of quantum cosmology isn't just that quantum theory applies to things within the universe but to the universe itself, particularly when the universe was small enough at the Big Bang.

The first and third most popular posts I wrote on this blog were about the Hartle-Hawking and Vilenkin tunneling from "nothing" models, both of which are proposals for a quantum state of the universe (quantum cosmologies). Having read over these again and in light of Hawking's death I thought it might be useful to explain and contrast these in a single post, a bit more.

If I throw a sharpie acro…

Hey AronRa, Please Stop Talking Nonsense About Physics!

A couple of days ago I came across a video by AronRa on YouTube, a science popularizer who discussed the origin of the universe. I encourage everyone to watch the video before reading the rest of this post. A lot of the claims being made in the video are out right false but when they're sold to us by someone who may have a working knowledge of biology, or who drops technical language (a lot of which he himself doesn't understand), it makes it tempting for some people to be mislead by what he's saying.

I'm going to go through a few of the claims he's made ignoring all of the over the top, anti religious crap.

It's difficult to know if this first one (around 2:05) is a slip-up or genuine ignorance. It's not the kind of mistake anyone with an actual understanding of the topic would make. He equivocates here between "expansion" and "inflation" as if they were the same thing. Inflation was first proposed by Starobinksy and Guth in the early …