In many subjects you learn about what someone did rather than the people. Noether's theorem is extremely important in physics, yet I went many years without realizing Noether was a mathematician and a woman. A piece from The Guardian that links to a talk from the Perimeter Institute.
Noether was a mathematician rather than a physicist, but her theorem, which states that for every continuous symmetry in nature, there is a conservation law, is now part of the bedrock of physics.
A “continuous symmetry” of some system means a variable that can be changed to any value without affecting the system. For example the laws of physics don’t depend on where you are. There is a continuous symmetry with respect to changes of location. Noether’s theorem says that because of this, there must be a conserved quantity.
That quantity is actually momentum. So from an assumption that the laws of physics are the same wherever you are, Noether’s theorem basically allows us to prove, amongst other things, Newton’s First Law: An object will remain at rest or moving with a constant velocity unless acted on by an external force. This is a very powerful principle, with many further profound consequences, and is one of the foundation stones of the Standard Model of particle physics¹. These ideas were needed before moving on to gauge symmetries, broken symmetries and the Higgs boson.
Uber's Drivers: Information Asymmetries and Control in Dynamic Work
Alex Rosenblat Data & Society Research Institute
Luke Stark New York University (NYU)
October 15, 2015
Abstract: This empirical study explores labor in the on-demand economy using the rideshare service Uber as a case study. By conducting sustained monitoring of online driver forums and interviewing Uber drivers, we explore worker experiences within the on-demand economy. We argue that Uber’s digitally and algorithmically mediated system of flexible employment builds new forms of surveillance and control into the experience of using the system, which result in asymmetries around information and power for workers. In Uber’s system, algorithms, CSRs, passengers, semiautomated performance evaluations, and the rating system all act as a combined substitute for direct managerial control over drivers, but distributed responsibility for remote worker management also exacerbates power asymmetries between Uber and its drivers. Our study of the Uber driver experience points to the need for greater attention to the role of platform disintermediation in shaping power relations and communications between employers and workers.
Creating large inexpensive batteries is one of the larger obstacles in the move to large portions of renewable energy. Representing over 99% of stored energy capacity. pumped hydro is the largest and most cost effective way to store energy. Water is pumped to a higher elevation when you have excess electricity and allowed to run downhill through turbines to generate electricity during periods when you need it. The problem is the energy density is very low and you need large amounts of specialized land.
Compressed air is being used on a limited basis. It is less efficient than pumped hydro, but there are fewer geographical restrictions. Compress air into a tank of some kind, usually a large underground cavern when you're generating excess electricity, and then release it through a turbine when you need it. Finding suitable caverns is a challenge. Underwater balloons have been proposed and tried on a small scale with some failures. Now a larger system is being proposed.
It has been noted that the equations of Nature often seem to know much more than the people who discover them. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Maxwell's equations. Some comments on the depth of this remarkable work from The Guardian. It is also the 100th anniversary of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity..
Early knowledge of a German atom bomb project was one of the most important sparks for the Manhattan Project. Over the course of the war it became increasingly clear the German effort was too small to produce a device.
Most people think that you have to believe in God to believe in Satan and that the later makes you evil. Most don't realize there are theistic and atheist Satanists. I had one of the later as a math professor in college. A lovely and exceptionally moral fellow. Their church had a version of the Ten Commandments that was similar to the one (or should I say ones) in the Bible minus the vain God parts. He held the strong belief that Satan didn't exist as an entity (consistent with his belief that God didn't either), but rather was a symbol of liberty, enlightenment and questioning. Some atheistic Satanists cite entropy as the manifestation of Satan- although that is an entirely different form of the belief.
In any even the notion held in much of the country that this is a Christian nation needs challenging. It is the rights of the minority rather than the will of the majority that needs protection and enforcement.