Max Richter

Posted on December 20, 2008 by Steve

He shows what can be done with a piano in two minutes with "The Twins."


Posted on December 17, 2008 by Steve

Ulam lapsed into a coma. His wife, his doctors and his friends worried about brain damage. When he awoke a few days later, Ulam worried about it even more. "One morning the surgeon asked me what 13 plus 8 were. The fact that he asked such a question embarrassed me so much that I just shook my head. Then he asked what the square root of twenty was, and I replied: about 4.4. He kept silent, then I asked, 'Isn't it?' I remember Dr. Rainey laughing, visibly relieved, and saying, 'I don't know.'"
Richard Rhodes, Dark Sun

Oil Wager: three years

Posted on December 05, 2008 by Steve

On the third anniversary of the wager, the numbers are in my favor: a barrel of light sweet crude costs noticeably less than the 19.2 Big Macs which matched it in value on December 1, 2005.

Here are the annual figures so far:

OilBig Macratio
12/1/2005$58.75$3.06 19.20

With this level of volatility, ten years is probably the very minimum term in which any kind of long-range trend will be visible. For perspective, here's the chart showing how far we have to go.


Energy "myths"

Posted on December 01, 2008 by Steve

A Guardian article purports to list ten energy myths. But the text debunking each myth is so conditional, so hopeful, it makes me feel that the "myths" are in fact inconvenient truths: solar power is too expensive; wind power is too unreliable.

Judge for yourself: below are the extracted weasel words.

Myth 1: solar power is too expensive to be of much use
will be
may not even be
claims that
are investigating
are probably already
could get
would need
would get

Myth 2: wind power is too unreliable
could easily
would comfortably
would need
needs to
should be able to
must invest in
must be
will also need to
talking of developing
will become cheaper
are also set to become

Myth 3: marine energy is a dead-end
may well be
could do

Myth 4: nuclear power is cheaper than other low-carbon sources of electricity
may be
appears to be
it looks as though
might also mean
it will be possible
hopes to be

Myth 5: electric cars are slow and ugly
already very close
can be
need to become
have committed to develop
will be powered
will provide

Myth 6: biofuels are always destructive to the environment
we will be able to
we will have to

Myth 7: climate change means we need more organic agriculture
numbers will rise to
is likely to
we need to
Most studies show

Myth 8: zero carbon homes are the best way of dealing with greenhouse gas emissions from buildings
is easily outweighed
should push

Myth 9: the most efficient power stations are big
changing fast
Within a few years

Myth 10: all proposed solutions to climate change need to be hi-tech
it may be cheaper and more effective
many viable proposals
seem to
is developing
support would allow