19 DEC 2013 by ideonexus

 Measurements Change Dramatically Depending on the Methodo...

Benoit Mandelbrot asked his famous question “How long is the coast of Britain?” long before this symposium was written, but it perfectly captures the sort of puzzle people in this crowd love. The question seems simple. Just look it up in the encyclopedia. But as Mandelbrot observed, the length of the coast of Britain depends on what you use to measure it. If you draw lines on a map to approximate the coastline, you get one length, but if you try to measure the real bumps in every inlet an...
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David Brook's relating Benoit Mandelbrot's experience measuring the British coast.

23 MAR 2013 by ideonexus

 The Watson/Holmes Modes of Thought

As Holmes reminds us, “Like all other arts, the Science of Deduction and Analysis is one which can only be acquired by long and patient study nor is life long enough to allow any mortal to attain the highest possible perfection in it.” But it’s also more than mere fancy. In essence, it comes down to one simple formula: to move from a System Watson– to a System Holmes–governed thinking takes mindfulness plus motivation. (That, and a lot of practice.) Mindfulness, in the sense of cons...
Folksonomies: mindfulness
Folksonomies: mindfulness
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Watson is on autopilot, Holmes is mindfulness.

25 APR 2012 by ideonexus

 Seeing VS Observing

I could not help laughing at the ease with which he explained his process of deduction. 'When I hear you give your reasons,' I remarked, 'the thing always appears to me to be so ridiculously simple that I could easily do it myself, though at each successive instance of your reasoning I am baffled, until you explain your process. And yet I believe that my eyes are as good as yours.' 'Quite so,' he answered, lighting a cigarette, and throwing himself down into an arm-chair. 'You see, but you d...
Folksonomies: observation mindfulness
Folksonomies: observation mindfulness
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Sherlock Holmes explains the difference between taking your world for granted and observing it scientifically.

09 JUN 2011 by ideonexus

 The Uselessness of Nitrogen in the Atmosphere

My 165-pound body consists of about 110 pounds of oxygen, 30 pounds of carbon, 16 pounds of hydrogen, 6 pounds of nitrogen, and 3 pounds of everything else. Basic stuff, mostly, the stuff of water and air. You'd think we could get almost everything we need to build our bodies by taking deep breaths and gulps of water. But it's not quite that simple. Consider those 6 pounds of nitrogen in my body. Our cells build proteins by stringing together chemical units called amino acids, and every amino...
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Raymo describes how many pounds of each element there are in his body, and why, despite them mostly all existing in the air we breath, they are bound up in molecules so that we cannot access them.