Tag Archives: Science

More from The Black Hole War

Reading Susskind’s book over lunch — yet another advantage of MGTOW — A Reader finds this passage very interesting:

[For] a mathematical result, the more technical, precise, unintuitive, and difficult it is, the more it shocks people into recognizing the value of a new way of thinking. — Susskind, Leonard (2008-07-07). The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics (p. 311). Hachette Book Group. Kindle Edition.

The book started out narrative but now there’s some serious science being explained; this might take longer to read than A Reader originally thought. There still no math, but a lot of concepts and a lot of counterintuitive ideas. (Physics sure has changed a lot since college.)

Beginning “The Black Hole War” by Leonard Susskind

After a sunday of woodworking in his workshop, A Reader likes nothing more than a stiff drink and a good book. So here are a few choice quotes from Leonard Susskind’s book The Black Hole War.

The real tools for groking the quantum universe are abstract mathematics: infinite dimensional Hilbert spaces, projection operators, unitary matrices, and a lot of other advanced principles that take a few years to learn. (p. 75)

Grokking is Heinlein’s term for developing such an understanding of a field that its nature becomes almost intuitive. I’m not sure that it really applies here, but perhaps for super-smart physicists it does. It also has two ‘k’s. The book will try to explain black holes without the math, Susskind tells his readers.

A black hole horizon is the most concentrated form of information that the laws of nature allow.  (p. 116)

This is a very deep insight, and it’s the solution to the problem that Susskind found with Hawking radiation: when matter comes into a black hole, all information in that matter is preserved in the black hole; if the black hole dissipates its mass (or energy) as Hawking radiation, which carries no information, then information is destroyed, something that violates quantum mechanics.

The rest of the book will describe the evolution of the problem and its current solution of the universe as a hologram (a structure where all the information is contained on the surface area rather than the volume).

Women in Science and Science Fiction

A Reader likes Charles Stross’ cyberpunk books, but his blog borders on idiotic (he’s a Scots nationalist and a socialist; apparently he never noticed what joining socialism and nationalism means).  Now the blog has jumped the shark, as Stross is on vacation and two women are blogging there. Behold their logic:

Both male and female scientists are more likely to hire a male than a female. “Analyses indicated that the female student was less likely to be hired because she was viewed as less competent” — although the study design had presented candidates with identical qualifications. —Off the Map: Women in Science and Science Fiction.

The post suggests that this is due to discrimination against women, but A Reader things that there are much more likely reasons:

  1. Given a male and a female with similar academic qualifications, anyone familiar with the admissions policy and grading in college will figure out that the male had to work much harder for his qualifications. Women get priority admission, get nerds to help with course work, and if they don’t like the grade can always raise the threat of a sexual discrimination complaint against the teachers.
  2. Men don’t feel entitled to act like complete a-holes for a week out of every month, don’t get pregnant in the middle of the grant period, and don’t break down in tears at the first sign of criticism. Generally men also have a lot less downtime from various ailments, are less likely to be on psychoactive medications or require professional psychological assistance, or break down under pressure. Biology makes no apology.
  3. Men can be fired for incompetence without much fuss. Man can be threatened with dismissal if they aren’t pulling their weight. Neither can be done to women, unless the lab director is willing to spend his or her time explaining himself or herself to a number of committees and working groups, many of which without any semblance of due process. In the limit, a simple accusation of sexism over social media will live forever on the internet, so a future employer for the lab director will always see it and wonder.

A Reader also notices that when men who work in the sciences and engineering, or are fans of science fiction, get together and talk or write about science, engineering, or science fiction, they talk or write about science, engineering, or science fiction. When women who work in the sciences and engineering, or are fans of science fiction, get together and talk or write about science, engineering, or science fiction, they talk or write about the issues of women in science, women in engineering, or women in science fiction.