Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Engineering of Biology at MIT

One of the big reunion activities at MIT is Technology Day, a series of lectures from faculty done shortly after commencement.   This year the theme was Synthetic Life, and the talks were just as creepy and interesting as you might … Continue reading

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“The Earth After Us” – Humanity in Deep Time

So I was once sitting in an introductory geology class, and the instructor was talking about limestone.  “It’s sometimes formed by calcium carbonate precipitating directly out of seawater,” he said, “Until life evolved 600 million years ago, and it then became … Continue reading

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Boston, City of Other People’s Bad Memories

My home city has had a remarkably long run of peace.  The last time war touched Boston was when it was besieged for almost a year by the colonials during the American Revolution, some 240 years ago.   Few places in … Continue reading

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Plug For “Let’s See This Work – An Engineer At the Movies”

I’ve started a new blog that’s specific to movies, looking at them with a technical eye:  Let’s See This Work .  It’s not so much about the technical construction of movies, but rather notes from a technical person on what … Continue reading

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How Did Wind Get So Cheap?

Rather surprisingly, wind power is now the cheapest form of electricity in the US: This comes from the tree-hugging socialists at  Lazard Asset Management.  Unsubsidized wind comes in at $32 to $62 per MWh, depending on the site.   Natural gas … Continue reading

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The Auto Industry Does Its Bit

I recently leased a 2017 Chevy Volt.   It’s a nice mid-range car with good interior space, a lot of zip, and is really quiet.   It’s even rather stylish: And it gets 75 miles per gallon in terms of CO2 emissions, … Continue reading

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When Modeling Goes Bad – “Weapons of Math Destruction”

The political modeling that I talked about in the last post now affects most decisions that institutions make with respect to individuals.   This is nicely described in in the recent book Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil.   She has … Continue reading

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