Science, More or Less

The Problem Newton Got Wrong
May 26, 2020 – 13:14
Isaac Newton was right about everything from gravity to the calculus, but he didn’t quite get it right on dice and probability.

The Newton-Pepys Problem represents Isaac Newton’s only documented foray into probability. Samuel Pepys sent him a letter asking whether it would be more likely to roll one six in 6 dice, two sixes in 12 dice, or three sixes in 18 dice. In terms of computing the answer, we’ve got it pretty easy in the 21st century, whether we do it the long way, whether we apply binomial distribution, or just run a Monte Carlo simulation. To us, it’s a relatively basic problem in probability.

But Newton had to work it all out himself, and as he did that, he missed a few things. He just… didn’t get it totally right even though his numbers were accurate. The *real* Newton-Pepys Problem is deciding how much that even matters, and the answer gives us insight into the complex relationship between math, numbers, and the realities of human thought.

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Science — It’s Scienterrific

  • What the HECK is Time?! (in Einstein’s Relativity)
  • What’s Under The Ice In Antarctica?
  • Animation of Black Hole Disk Flare in Galaxy OJ 287
  • A day in the life of an astrophysicist in LOCKDOWN
  • Why Do Fetuses Kick So Much?
  • How Science Is Trying to Understand Consciousness
  • How the Andes Mountains Might Have Killed a Bunch of Whales
  • How Climate Change Is Creating More Space Junk

What the HECK is Time?! (in Einstein’s Relativity)
The Science Asylum – Apr 28, 2020 – 11:49
In special and general relativity, we imagine time as just another dimension of space in something called “spacetime.” Unfortunately, this picture leads to questions about determinism and free will. Is that really how it works? What does the concept of spacetime actually say about the universe and about time?

Continue reading “Science — It’s Scienterrific”