Archive for March, 2007

Fairness, Equality and Reality

Sunday, March 25th, 2007

The ethical question of fairness, of whether to treat people equally, does not depend on whether or not people are in fact equal. I get irate at how people confuse these two. To treat unequal people equally is an ethical decision, not an expression of belief in pre-existing equality. The expense of this moral choice, however, IS proportional to the extent to which equality is truly there.


Purpose, Simply

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

From City Slickers, as seen at Coding Horror:

Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is?

Curly: This. [holds up one finger]

Mitch: Your finger?

Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean shit.

Mitch: But what is the “one thing?”

Curly: [smiles] That’s what you have to find out.

State Counting in Thermodynamics

Saturday, March 3rd, 2007

Let’s say you have a box full of particles, and each of those particles is independently in one of N states. Each state has a probability of occuring. Let us further suppose that none of these probabilities are the same – if so, then there is one state with the highest probability. If there are then properties E and V which are diagonal and have a 1-1 correspondence to each other amongst all the states, then the most common E and most common V definitely are related to each other by E=MV^2/2.

Examine the Speed and Energy distributions of the ideal gas. The modal values of these two distributions do not correspond to each other via the E = MV^2/2 relation. Paradox?