Critical Section

Archive: February+11,+2016

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gravitational waves

Thursday,  02/11/16  09:29 PM

gravitational wavesPretty cool, huh?  So we've detected gravitational waves, but what are they?  NASA attempts to answer, here.  The NY Times also does a nice job with a video, here.

This rabbit hole is pretty deep.  Normally with "waves" you think of things moving in time.  But ... what if the waves are time itself?  Yeah.  Whoa.

Anyway it's great that we have further confirmation, if any were needed, that Einstein's 100-year-old theory of the universe is correct.  I don't think this is quite as surprising or momentous as a lot of news reports make out...  we've had a long time now to confirm this theory in all its aspects, and have found zero counter-examples.  It would have been surprising if the absence of gravitational waves had been proved, but of course it is hard to prove a negative. 

Missing from all the breathless reports is any new implication.  I find experiments which yield new implications to be more interesting than those which confirm existing ones.

Well anyway it was fun, and the diagrams are cool.  Onward!



ode to old school: Craigslist

Thursday,  02/11/16  09:42 PM

craigslist!The other day I had to sell a car (details redacted).  I did what millions do every day, posted it on the venerable Craigslist.  Within an hour I had several calls of interest, and within three hours the car was sold, cash.  It is possible it was priced to move, but still, that's impressive.

Even as impressive or more so is Craigslist itself.  It exists as a simple HTML website, a throwback to the mid-90s.  I'm sure it runs on LAMP*, is rock solid, and can handle millions of concurrent users on crappy old hardware without breaking a sweat.

The pages are simple and clean, and load instantly.  There is no delay waiting for a metric ton of JavaScript to load, and no shifting images, input fields which aren't ready to respond, and other artifacts of today's emphasis on slick user interfaces.  Somehow this old school site "just works".

I love it, and not just because it could help me sell my car in a few hours.  To me this is true design elegance.  Long may it wave...

* LAMP = Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl


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Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Unnatural Selection
Aperio's Mission = Automating Pathology
On Blame
Try, or Try Not
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may I take your order?
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