On Theoretical Models

In pursuing the objective to generalize theoretical models we must ask ourselves whether greater detail in formulating the contributing processes is warranted by truncation errors, by sensitivity of the results to detail, by the resulting increase in computational complexity and time, and by ignorance of the way these processes really work.

– Joseph Smagorinsky. “General Circulation Experiments with the Primitive Equations: I. The Basic Experiment.” Monthly Weather Review, 91.3 (1963): 99–164.

The Mechanics of Familiarity


When we look at each other, we see faces, we recognize them and we read their emotions, and thats just our memory working its magic, right? Not quite. There are two parts of the brain at play: recognition and familiarity. Its not enough to recognize a person’s physical appearance, we must also be able to connect in a familiar sense, connecting memory and appearance with emotion. When this connection is severed, our closest family can seem like imposters. Alternately, when we live in an online world where these familiar connections are absent, we lose the ability to sense imposters, and everyone seems so familiar.

– via Nautilus

Fighting Bias on The Bleeding Edge

wave sketch

Though scientists are widely accepted to be coldly analytical and impartial, their hopes and expectations can, if not correctly addressed, create a bias, interpreting results from data which do not exist. To combat this bias, a small team at the LIGO gravitational wave telescope was tasked with secretly inserting false data into the observations. It kept everybody on their toes, and ended up streamlining things in the process.

– via Nautilus