Occam’s Razor and Newton’s Flaming Laser Sword

It’s well established that in science we can use Occam’s Razor to decide which is the most likely explanation, that between competing hypotheses that one that requires the lowest number of assumptions should be preferred.

Newton’s flaming laser sword is a philosophical razor coined by Mike Alder in an essay entitled “Newton’s Flaming Laser Sword, Or: Why Mathematicians and Scientists don’t like Philosophy but do it anyway” . To summarise the position that “what cannot be settled by experiment is not worth debating”. It was published in Philosophy Now in May/June 2004. The razor is humorously named after Isaac Newton, as it is inspired by Newtonian thought, Mike characterised this sword as being “much sharper and more dangerous than Occam’s Razor”.

Newton's Flaming Laser Sword

Newton’s Flaming Laser Sword

Newton’s flaming laser sword sounds very useful. It slices, it dices… it might be suggested that such a sword could cut away too much, and prevent one from taking a position on politics or religion. That’s not really true, it would prevent one ever being able to make religious explanations or do other special pleading and claim it was science. In the field of politics it may leave one asking for evidence to support particular political judgements. I don’t think those are bad outcomes. Mike Adler suggests that the flaming sword is a useful tool against Platonic philosophers, who may ask one to engage in an older type of game, than the one usually played by modern science and mathematics.

Anyway, this leaves the question, has anyone every seen Occam’s razor or Newton’s Flaming laser sword? I think we need to mount an investigation as to were these useful historical artefacts have been left.

Download a Flaming Laser Sword from the internet archive (PDF)

I think Newton would be a good suggestion for the next Cambridge scientist movie, although some have already been made such as “Isaac Newton the last magician” (2013) and the 2010 movie “The Invention of Calculus”

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Manslamming

Arwa Mahdawi has published a joke story on the guardian about the phenomenon of ‘manslamming’ in New York. You can tell it’s a joke because they conflate experiment with anecdote.

Is manslamming a true phenomena? It seems reasonable if manspreading is real. Manspreading sounds like something more testable. It is easy to imagine that collisions on the street are a result of both parties, so it seems more difficult to design an experiment — maybe mass observation would be the way to test this claim.

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/womens-blog/2015/jan/12/manslamming-men-more-likely-to-bump-into-people

The original article can be found here. http://nymag.com/thecut/2015/01/manslamming-manspreading-microaggressions.html

Hadfield vs Hatfield

I always get these two Sheffield related names mixed up.

Hadfield Hatfield
Sir Robert Abbott, Baronet Hadfield Dr. William Hatfield
Inventor/ manufacturer of high Mn
steels known as Hadfield Steel
Inventor in 1924 of 18/8 stainless steel, and 321 stainless steel (18Cr-8-Ni+Ti).
1858-1940, Born in Sheffield, Died in Surrey 1882-1943, Born in Sheffield.
Knighted
Son of Robert Hadfield
Wrote over 200 Papers Authored many papers.
Made Hadfields foundry one of largest in World Appointed director of Brown-Firth Research Laboratories (succeeding Harry Brearley)
FRS FRS
Hadfield steel can also refer to some high silicon steels  Stainless Steels and also some high temperature alloys were developed by Hatfield (12Ni-5Mn-4Cr which has high thermal expansion coefficient and 5Ni-4Cr-3Mo which has strength at high temperature).
Obituary Obituary

MIcroscopes in our time

Sir Colin Humphreys was among the guests on this mornings “In our time” hosted by Melvyn Bragg (Baron Bragg), discussing microscopy.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03jdy3p

Scientists Prayer

Thank God, for making the world just complicated enough to study, but not so simple we can explain everything.

‘Scientist’ jailed for faking results

BBC report about scientist jailed for faking results. Steven Eaton from Cambridgeshire was convicted in March 2013 under the 1999 Good Laboratory Practice Regulations. The court heard that while working at the Edinburgh branch of US based pharmaceutical firm Aptuit in 2009, Mr Eaton manipulated experimental results, so that a drug would proceed to human trails.

Mr Eaton was convicted by Sheriff Michael O’Grady QC, and received the maximum possible sentence of three months, the Sheriff said his powers were inadequate for this case, and a longer sentence would be justified. Mr Eaton’s defence lawyer, claimed his client did not benefit financially from the fraud, as he was only making £35,000 per year.

Mr Eaton was reported by his employers after they became suspicious and reported him to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.

Story with generic science pictures can be found also at these sites:

 

http://news.stv.tv/scotland/221777-steven-eaton-faked-research-data-for-experimental-anti-cancer-drug/

http://www.scotsman.com/news/scottish-news/top-stories/scientist-jailed-for-faking-research-data-1-2898750

Only one million UK jobs rely on Physics

Incredibly only 1 million of UK (The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) jobs depend on physics according to the institute of physics (IOP) IOP – One million UK jobs depend on physics. This seems an incredibly low number, they must have very stringent criteria about what counts as physics. This headline produced from a report that was conducted with auditors Deloitte (Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited).

The IOP try to differentiate jobs which rely on “the physics base” or need employees with an advanced understanding of physics, and says employees in these physics-based businesses add to the UK economy is almost double that of the average UK employee. With a Gross Value Added (GVA) of £70,000 compared to the average of £36,000.

This should mean that these physicists make up 4% of UK employees, and their added value is (70,000-36,000)*1 million = 34,000 million or 34 trillion pounds or 0.034 trillion pounds. This compares to GDP of $2.480 trillion $2480 trillion (2011 – wikipedia) 2.4 trillion (2012 – google world development indicators).

Download IOP report, the importance of physics to UK economy
IOP news

Article updated on 27 Oct 2012