Tuesday
Jun112013

Paranoid leadership unjustified?

The NSA (Nationwide survalence agency?) Prism scandel has been breaking for the last few weeks and I have two cents of opinion to share.

First the upsold notion that these programs are worthwhile because they have prevented terrorism seems at odds with the cost of the programs.  Of course, the exact cost is unknown to me.  Today's wikipedia entry describes it as a $20million per year cost, but given that a $6billion dollar/year company exists solely to fullfill 2/3rds of the program needs, it seems likely to be close to a 9 billion per year set of government contracts.

For perspective, that's cost equivalent to roughly five Moore-OK F5 tornados worth of terrorist causalties per year.  Are we preventing that order of damage from terrorism on a yearly basis?  I think the answer is no.  Boston... Newton.... Santa Monica...  Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales premeditated murder of 16 Afghan women and children, the bad stuff still happens.   Prism doesn't amount to cheap insurance at all.

A second question, is it worth it for the US government to intrude upon us in this way?  Yes.  Its quite likely that nearly every government is trying to squeeze metadata from credit cards, phone records, email, skype, facebook, even if they have to write spyware to do it - very much similar to the situation advertisers do.  It is in our national intrest to have intelligence.   

I just wish they were open about it, perhaps because I niavely think that sunlight would prevent the degeneration towards corruption and abuse.  If FISA Courts were once a protector and are now a rubberstamper, would that still happened in the daylight?  

Friday
May102013

Evolution - That thing that everyone thinks they understand far better than Darwin.

Biology types:  In the United States, you are loosing mindshare to lax-thinking young earth creationists.  The notion that evolution isn't real needs to be challenged.  And frankly sticking to the beautiful but frequently impenetrable ideas laid out in a book published late in 1859 seems not to be helping.  

Simply, the idea of evolution needs to expand past Darwinism - consider an information theory based definition of Evolution - Evolution can be considered a circumstance that results in successive refinements to a design.   Yep, I used that word "design"... don't flinch, own it 100%.  American pronghorn antelope populations were designed by the the grass they ate, by hunting wolves and extinct american cheetahs, by dry seasons, competition with other herbivores, competition among males, female antelopes selecting for "desirable" mates, and perhaps even wild fires and volcanos all in the quest to reproduce again and again.  Lean into that awkward young earth creationist idea of a designer and own it - tell the story of who the designers were and how fat short legged antelopes don't exist because the cheetahs ate well and the females refused and show that evolution lets even small antelope brains direct design choices. 

Mathematical types:  Please, pick up the slack.   Evolution is an astounding example of game theory, successive iterations of reward or failure that drives changes in competitive populations.   I use evolutionary algorithms to provide practical solutions to deviously tedious problems.  (Sure not exact solutions, but practical.  Almost always better than engineering's "simplify by considering this turkey to be a perfect sphere" type approximations.)  It pains me that a rather complete search brought forth not quite 200 titles devoted to the mathematics of evolution.  I have very specific quandaries about algorithm strategy optimization and computability and the sum of all present published knowledge on the subject is... not all that helpful.  There isn't a hard wall between mathematics and biology, study evolution and the ways it bridges and marries these subjects.  

Computer types:  Evolution is an incredible example of complex information theory.  DNA is code.  Nearly all life runs in wet jiggly ~6 bit computers.  And sex makes the configuration complexity staggering.   Nearly every human, fish, orchid, sponge, spider or worm is running a unique set of code or code configuration.     Diversity happens automatically with each copy attempt, there is just so much to copy that a change or two will creep into the spools of code, and those little glitches usually get weeded out if they interfere much with reproduction.  Leave the code running in one species for too long and you'll get so much diversity in configuration and code that anyone would swear you have a thousand species of distinct creatures, almost like you started with a vacuum tube mainframe and a few thousand competitive iterations later had an Ipad, Google's server farm and Facebook.  

So what has me on this kick today?  I watched a documentary, and it made me feel like the United States is sprinting toward stupidity for election day gains with the young earth creationists.  I'm all for artistic, religious or political freedom- but even I can't stomach the cost of dumbing down a generation or more of our children.  I care about our future.  I don't think that being taught well intentioned dreams over well known principles of biology, mathematics or information theory has decent crack at improving our world or advancing the United States position within it. 

Evolution isn't just a theory, its a process, a situation, an activity.  Embrace it.

Thursday
Mar142013

A Curiosity Tweet

TweetToCuriosityRover =
 a = RealDigits[{01000010, 01100101, 00100000, 01110011, 01100001, 01100110,
     01100101, 00100001}][[All, 1]]

b = FromCharacterCode[
  Total[a[[#]]*Reverse[Table[2^(n - 1), {n, 1, Length[a[[#]]]}]]] & /@
   Range[Length[a]]]

Output:  "Be safe!"

There you go, should anyone happen across annoying tweets in ascii binary, run the mathematica code above to decode... maybe on wolfram alpha.

Thursday
Mar142013

Can an Einstein Bose Condensate tell us more about the early universe than the Higgs particle will?

Light travels fastest in a vacuum.  A bit slower in air.  2.419x slower in diamond than a vacuum.  In a EinsteinBose Condensate (a cold quantium non-localized blob of overlapping atoms), light practically stops moving.  

So-  I have a few questions without good answers.  What is the speed of light I (or index of refraction)  in a neutron star?   As a black hole colapses, does it turn into a Einstein Bose Condensate before it closes itself off from our universe?   What would the index of refraction of the the very early universe have been as it evolved?

Why does this matter?  I don't know- are gravity waves affected by the index of refraction of the object they pass through?  Could the early universe have had a EinsteinBose Condensate that limited the speed of light and prevented rapid collapse while allowing for speed of light-in-a-vacuum non-localized expansion?

Normally the critical temperature for making a BE Condensate is quite low, but in the early universe density was ~10^95 kg per cubic meter, and that density bumps up the critial temp for einstein bose condensate easily many factors hotter than the temperature of the early universe.   And the early universe doesn't stop being a nonlocalized condensate for quite some time.  

Not being expert enough, I can't tell.   But it seems that the early hydrogen atoms existed before a clear location in space existed for them to occupy.  I don't quite like the idea that the equations break down and therefore can't be trusted... so for me it seems clear that in the begining, there was something like a condensate.

Fukuyama TakeshiMorikawa Masahiro

Since posting I found similar ideas presented by Fukuyama Takeshi and Morikawa Masahiro Here "Stagflation -- BOSE-EINSTEIN CONDENSATION IN THE EARLY UNIVERSE"

Thursday
Mar142013

Yellowstone at play part 2

I've made some improvements to the seismogram to sonogram notebook.  will post soon. 

Basically, I improved the sonogram digitizer.  I also I did a wavelet transform to change time isolated events into a frequency table.   The time-frequency tables adds noise that looks something like a numerical moire pattern, but it also appears to be moderately predictive over a short period (perhaps as much as 40 minutes).  

Not really happy with Mathematica's wavelet transforms - seismic  waves are often asymmetric - they spike and then fade |\~-, Gabor wavelets or Mexican hat wavelets and the like -~/|\~- build, spike and then fall off.    I think in some fundamental way I don't quite understand wavelet mathematics or why the implementation is done the way it is.  Implementation seem unusually inflexible, specific and idiosyncratic...  Almost like the science was documented by a unwilling telecomm committee disclosure through a party of moderately baffled lawyers rather than directly from the coherent words, insight and teachings of a brilliant mind.  

 The first go was really just for fun and cranked out after the kids went to be one night.  When I figure out how to better put a good shine on my wavelets,  I'll repost.