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November 3, 2016 / consort3

Some History of technology

Where it began, for our purposes, little known Elizabethan physician Gilbert

Stephen Gray, the discoverer of electrical conduction

Thought Morse invented the Telegraph? Francis Ronalds invented it in 1816. Unfortunately no-one wanted it.

It has been 150 years since Maxwell presented his equations:

The history of Maxwells equations

My friend has summarised them here:

Maxwells Equ

Heaviside’s conflict with Preece “Theory versus practice”


A worthy biography of Heaviside is “Oliver Heaviside”   by Paul Nahin

Another 150th anniversary George Boole. Boole like Heaviside was self -taught.

There is more to Boole than Boolean

Interesting article about a contemporary of Maxwell and Boole, namely Babbage

More detail on the invention

Article about Babbages friend, the first programmer, Ada–augusta-ada-lovelace/id/7225

Great piece on Ada and Babbage by Wolfram

Impressive comic book of the Ada/Babbage story

Another contemporary British invention, the Bessemer process

A quartet of Victorian engineers beginning with B

I had to make it a quintet of people beginning with B. Thomas Bayes came up with Bayes’ Theorem, a basic law of probability governing how to modify one’s beliefs when new evidence arrives. Are you Bayesian or Boolean?

In the Boolean worldview, the world is organised into basic situations such as Sydney being north of Melbourne. Such situations are facts. Truth is correspondence to facts. That is, if a belief matches a fact, it is objectively true; if not, it is objectively false. If you and I disagree, one of us must be right, the other wrong; and if I know I’m right, then I know you’re wrong. Totally wrong.

In the Bayesian worldview, beliefs are not simply true or false, but more or less probable. That is, we can be more or less confident that they are true, given how they relate to our other beliefs and how confident we are in them. If you and I disagree about the cause of climate change, it is not a matter of me being wholly right and you being wholly wrong, but about the differing levels of confidence we have in a range of hypotheses. Dare I say it, shades of grey!

Good explantion of Bayes Theorem

Another question, are you Babylonian or Balkan in your Philosophy? Feynman used to say that there were two kinds of Physicists, the Babylonians and the Greeks. He was referring to the opposing philosophies of those ancient civilizations. The Babylonians made western civilization’s first great strides in understanding numbers and equations, and in geometry.
Yet it was the later Greeks – in particular Thales, Pythagoras, and Euclid – whom we credit with inventing Mathematics. This is because the Babylonians cared only whether or not a method of calculation worked – that is, adequately described a real physical situation – and not whether it was exact, or fitted into any greater logical system. Thales and his Greek followers, on the other hand, invented the idea of theorem and proof – and required that for a statement to be considered thorough, it had to be an exact logical consequence of a system of explicitly stated axioms or assumptions. To put it simply, the Babylonians focused on phenomena, the Greeks on the underlying order.”
Nevertheless, the existence of Babylonian method has actually a deep sense: axiomatic approach can be formulated only if satisfactory number of facts, needed for the generalization, is accumulated.

Interesting reflections on Feynman:

Comments on the Feynman minority report of the shuttle disaster, interesting blog BTW

Feynman’s Minority Report and Top-Down Design | The Multidisciplinarian

How ARM happened

More on the history of ARM

Arm 25th anniversary

350 years of scientific publishing. The Royal Society

Contemporary work showing interest in Science from the nobility

A good summary of the basics of electronics:

Germanium is making a comeback:

The hacker hacked

The history of spreadsheets or the first killer app:

Unsung computing hero Douglas Englebart

The engineering approach to innovation in science

More on this idea

Review of TRIZ for dummies

How to engineer serendipity

Divisions of time

Talking astronomy, where Jocelyn Bell discovered the Quasar. She, Lise Meitner and Rosalind Franklin are more famous female scientists than if they were Nobel Laureates:

Talking of Rosalind Franklin here is the story of the how the structure of DNA was discovered:

Lest I be accused of eurocentrism in the history of science

Sorry its creeping back in. Horrocks

Restoring the balance, Martin Bernal and Black Athena

More balance, Sanskrit and the periodic table

Erdos and the Egyptian fraction problem:

Computers can lead to experiments not being repeatable:

The future of the professions

Philosophy and work/life balance

Lord Nuffields philanthropy

Babylonian maths more advanced than we previously thought:

On the other hand:

The clock on most computers started theoretically on 1st Jan  1970. Someone has worked out when the clock on the Anti-Kythera mechanism started, for solar eclipses it is 12 May 205BC.


The age of enlightenment has become the age of entanglement

Newtons recipe for the Philosophers stone

The extraordinary career of William Dampier

Richard Hakluyt and his early travel book

The silicon revolution started at  Shockley Semiconductor in April 1956 at Santa Clara which was the year Shockley got the Nobel prize for Physics for inventing the transistor. However by 1957 a number of staff he had recruited left to join Fairchild. More here:

How Silicon Valley got the name in 1971:

Unfortunately, all those manufacturing plants in Silicon Valley have left a toxic legacy in the groundwater.

The is/ ought problem

The above was written by Enlightenment philosopher David Hume who may have got some of his ideas from Buddism

Salvation by algorithm!

A scientific look at religon

Smartphones and social media are supposed to connect us. What happens when we are so constantly connected that forget how to be alone?

How information technology affects capitalism:

Maths lessons 4000 years ago in Babylon:

The beginnings of modern philosophy?

The continuation of Greek Philosophy

Scientists solve Prince Ruperts drops mystery:

Genetically engineered Petunia history


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