The representation of an integer in base b
has some digits
. For example the
number 42 = 4×101
=2 in base b
It's sometimes convenient to switch to a different base, frequently
=2) or hexadecimal (b
=16). Is there ever a
reason to switch to noninteger b
? What pathologies would
a representation have?
2009-04-20 Monday 14:39:54
Computers have fast storage with limited space (RAM)
and slower storage with fewer overall limits.
How could this set of constraints change
and make computing fundamentally different?
How would similes about how "your brain is like a computer" change?
Is there a better model for the brain?
2009-02-23 Monday 15:23:33
With continuous thrust, it takes less energy
to eject an object from the solar system than
to crash it into the sun. This isn't the case for
satellites in low-earth orbit, since they
skim the atmosphere already. For geosynchronous satellites?
Where is the boundary?
2009-02-13 Friday 08:41:34
A metric for cheap eating: calories per dollar?
2009-01-27 Tuesday 11:48:35
A stopped clock is exactly right twice a day.
With some error-weighted averages, a stopped clock is more
accurate on average than a clock running, say, ten minutes fast.
What averages do and don't have this property?
2008-11-19 Wednesday 23:40:45
Gerrymandered Congressional districts tend to protect extremists
at the expense of moderates. Will the House be more or less
after the turnover in yesterday's elections?
2008-11-05 Wednesday 12:39:29
If Hawking's connection between black holes and thermodynamics
is right, astrophysical black holes --- for which general
relativity predicts everything bizarre happens well inside the
horizon, and for which there are observational evidence --- are at
the zero-temperature limit. What's the "warmest"
black hole for which there is observational evidence? What's
the transition "temperature" where quantum gravity starts
2008-10-06 Monday 19:45:48
by Consumer Reports
, that breakfast cereals marketed to
children aren't terribly nutritious, has gotten some
evening-news press. The main contribution of the Consumer Reports
release seems to be that they bought a bunch of cereal and read the
nutrition labels. What's new here? Has the composition of
existing products been tweaked? Have some sweeter brands been
introduced to replace healthier ones? How do these sorts of news
blobs correlate with sales, or with marketing spending?
2008-10-06 Monday 12:29:26
Political polls of a thousand people's opinions are reported
with an uncertainty of 3%, which is roughly 1/√1000. Is this
mostly Poisson counting? An election is just a larger statistical
sample with a different set of biases. What is the margin of error
on an election?
2008-09-20 Saturday 21:38:27
NPR has reported twice in the past couple weeks that NASA managers
have expressed anxiety about the upcoming mission to service the
Hubble telescope. Because the Hubble orbits further above the
atmosphere than the ISS, where most shuttle missions have gone
recently, the chance of the shuttle colliding with some space junk
is "double" that on recent missions. Doubled from what?
2008-09-20 Saturday 08:28:36