Notes: The picture was taken inside a mirrored box at the Exploratorium.
The camera tripod is a Gorillapod.
Meme is pronounced meem, and roughly means an idea.


There is a blog at this site, but updates are erratic. If you are interested, go here. Below are the most popular/interesting items on the site.


Writings Projects

          Why Can't They Stop Computer Viruses

It's no secret that the Internet is flooded with viruses and spam. A recent report says that 95% of all email is spam. In fact, the spam and viruses go together. The spam contains attachments or links that infect your machine with a virus, and one of the main jobs of a virus is to spread itself by sending out more spam. Call it viruses, worms, or Trojan horses, adware, spyware or bots, it's all malicious software ("malware") and it's a problem.

In this article, I try to outline why viruses are so hard to deal with, and how the industry got into this situation in the first place.


What to Do About Health Care?

As a disabled person myself, I have some opinions about the health care system in the United States. Charles Hugh Smith, who runs his own blog (Of Two Minds) asked me to write a piece for him.

I try to make some basic points here about the effectiveness of health care, the common problem of comparing life expectancies instead of comparing the outcome of medical procedures, and the problem of blaming the health care system for life style choices. I also point out that you won't get the best results with a single system that tries to do everything. Patients fall into different groups with very different needs.


Hoping Not to Find Life in Space

Ever since people speculated that the stars were distant suns, or that the planets in our own solar system were worlds like the Earth, we have wondered if there was life elsewhere, even intelligent life like our own. Given all those stars and all that time, it seems like a sure bet. Yet we don't see any evidence of life elsewhere in our solar system, or any evidence of intelligent life out among the stars. This puzzle is called the Fermi Paradox, named after physicist Enrico Fermi, who is supposed to have said something like "if aliens exist, why aren't they here? There's been plenty of time."

This article discusses the Fermi Paradox and what it means to us.


Nanotech Thoughts

An old newsgroup posting of mine on nanotechnology. Plays around with the idea of Grey Goo -- self-replicating machines that will Destroy The World. No one takes this idea seriously... But just you wait!


Global Warming: Our Story So Far

An attempt to explain the entire debate, in one easy-to-read article. It has links to climate debate sites and Wikipedia graphs showing long-term trends. I review three possible explanations:

  1. Anthropogenic (Man-made) Global Warming. Industrialization using fossil fuels is releasing more CO2 which is heating the atmosphere.

  2. Solar cycles and other natural variation. The output of the sun changes, long-term cycles shift and the earth warms. CO2 is released by the oceans in response.

  3. Bad data. Nothing in particular is happening. Random variation in the climate has scared us into producing theories backed up by incomplete computer models and really skimpy information.

NASA and the Warmest Year

Back in August, 2007, there was a flurry of news items about how NASA had revised its temperature measurements and was now showing 1934 to be the warmest year on record, not 1998. The global warming story was one of steadily increasing temperatures, so this sounded very significant.

Curious about this, I did some research using the NASA GISS (Goddard Institute for Space Studies) web site. You can follow the links and produce your own graphs of the data. Many interesting discoveries.


Reading the "ClimateGate" Emails

My reading of the notorious "ClimateGate" emails. I'm still critical of climate science and this has done nothing to help, but I'm not as critical as other bloggers of the CRU itself.

I think the politics have put research centers under intolerable strain, and there's a mismatch between the stakes of the debate and the norms of traditional science. I also think there's more skepticism in the emails themselves than CRU is given credit for.


   
Converting a Bus into an RV

My attempt to convert a used wheelchair transit bus into an accessible RV. With pictures and costs. Not recommended as a guide for those considering a similar project, since I did not know what I was doing. More of a warning!



Simulated Evolution

Uses the "genetic algorithm" to evolve a small program (state machine) that will follow a trail on a map. You can see the population search for solutions, alter the odds of mutation, change the population size, etc. A good illustration of the principles of evolution, with many surprises.



Sea of Memes

My impossible dream -- a peer to peer online world where you can actually do useful work. No progress lately.


My Photo Collection