- How to Build an Economic Model in Your Spare Time (PDF) — Hal Varian’s article is to economics research what The Manual by the KLF is to pop music.
- Are We Living in a Computer Simulation? (Scientific American) — an overview of the kind of scientific argument one normally has in the pub rather than Scientific American.
- Intel Ledger — open source experimental distributed ledger from Intel, described here.
- Berkeley Lab captures first high-res 3D images of DNA segments (Kurzweil) — “This is the first time for directly visualizing an individual double-strand DNA segment in 3D.”
The O'Reilly Radar Podcast: "In Search of Certainty," Promise Theory, and scaling the computational net.
Subscribe to the O’Reilly Radar Podcast to track the technologies and people that will shape our world in the years to come.
In this week’s Radar Podcast episode, Aneel Lakhani, director of marketing at SignalFx, chats with Mark Burgess, professor emeritus of network and system administration, former founder and CTO of CFEngine, and now an independent technologist and researcher. They talk about the new edition of Burgess’ book, In Search of Certainty, Promise Theory and how promises are a kind of service model, and ways of applying promise-oriented thinking to networks.
Here are a few highlights from their chat:
We tend to separate our narrative about computer science from the narrative of physics and biology and these other sciences. Many of the ideas of course, all of the ideas, that computers are based on originate in these other sciences. I felt it was important to weave computer science into that historical narrative and write the kind of book that I loved to read when I was a teenager, a popular science book explaining ideas, and popularizing some of those ideas, and weaving a story around it to hopefully create a wider understanding.
I think one of the things that struck me as I was writing [In Search of Certainty], is it all goes back to scales. This is a very physicist point of view. When you measure the world, when you observe the world, when you characterize it even, you need a sense of something to measure it by. … I started the book explaining how scales affect the way we describe systems in physics. By scale, I mean the order of magnitude. … The descriptions of systems are often qualitatively different with these different scales. … Part of my work over the years has been trying to find out how we could invent the measuring scale for semantics. This is how so-called Promise Theory came about. I think this notion of scale and how we apply it to systems is hugely important.
You’re always trying to find the balance between the forces of destruction and the forces of repair.
How scientists become scientists, whether science is still advancing at Newton's pace, and the future of neuroscience and bioengineering.
At Sci Foo Camp last weekend, we enjoyed sitting down with several thoughtful scientists and thinkers-about-science to record a few podcast episodes. Here we speak with Tom Daniel, a professor of biology, computer science, and neurobiology at the University of Washington, and Ben Lillie, co-founder of The Story Collider and a Stanford-trained physicist. First topic: what brings people to science, and how we compare to our icons. Along the way, we mention Hans Bethe, Isaac Newton’s epitaph, and John McPhee’s trip across Interstate 80.