Category: Alpha Theory

What is entropy, exactly? First try an easier one: What is gravity? Suppose you had never heard of gravity and asked me what it was. I answer the usual, “attraction at a distance.” At this point you are as badly off as you were before. Do only certain objects attract each other? How strong is […]

Aaron Haspel | Posted June 2, 2005 @ 3:03 PM | Alpha Theory

To understand alpha theory, you have to learn some math and science. To learn math and science, you have to read some books. Now I know this is tiresome, and I am breaking my own rule by supplying a reading list. But it will be short. Try these, in order of increasing difficulty: Complexity, by […]

Aaron Haspel | Posted April 14, 2005 @ 7:13 PM | Alpha Theory

After months of diligent study I have finally become the person you edge away from at parties. At the last one I attended I began, after a few drinks, to dilate on alpha theory as usual. One of the guests suggested that I become a prophet for a new cult, which was certainly a lucky […]

Aaron Haspel | Posted February 13, 2005 @ 12:28 PM | Alpha Theory,Philosophy

Q&A

What’s alpha all about, Alfie? Why are you boring us with this? The great biologist E.O. Wilson wrote a little book called Consilience, in which he argued that it was past time to apply the methods of science — notably quantification — to fields traditionally considered outside its purview, like ethics, politics, and aesthetics. Any […]

Aaron Haspel | Posted January 6, 2005 @ 2:27 PM | Alpha Theory

Although alpha itself is simple enough at the molecular level, the derivation is complicated, its exposition has been spaced out over several posts and, alas, several months, and a summary is in order. Besides, the girlfriend wants one. Now 100% formula-free! In Part 1: Starting From Zero The history of philosophy, ethics in particular, was […]

Aaron Haspel | Posted December 7, 2004 @ 11:50 AM | Alpha Theory

Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and pursuit, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim. –Aristotle The moment has arrived. Weve invoked the laws of thermodynamics, probability and the law of large numbers; we […]

Aaron Haspel | Posted December 4, 2004 @ 12:36 PM | Alpha Theory

Part 1: Starting from Zero Part 2: Meet Eustace Part 3: Bernoulli Trials Part 4: Why Randomness is Not All Equally Random Have you ever been told what to do with your life? A particular college, major, grad school, career? Isn’t it annoying, that someone would presume to plot out your life for you, as […]

Aaron Haspel | Posted November 19, 2004 @ 7:50 PM | Alpha Theory

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Watch a drop of rain trace down a window-pane. Being acquainted with gravity, you might expect it to take a perfectly straight path, but it doesn’t. It zigs and zags, so its position at the bottom of the pane is almost never a plumb drop from where it began. […]

Aaron Haspel | Posted November 5, 2004 @ 5:05 PM | Alpha Theory

A.C. Douglas writes, not unreasonably: Listen up!, son. Are you coming back to the cultural blogosphere any time soon, or not? I mean with like, you know, cultural postings, not that tiresome philosophic shit, on an at least biweekly (every two weeks) basis? If not, I’m gonna de-list your ass, much as I love you. […]

Aaron Haspel | Posted October 12, 2004 @ 2:51 PM | Alpha Theory

Part 1 Part 2 We’ve established that thermodynamics is based on two fundamental empirical laws: the first law (conservation of energy) and the second law (the entropy law). Any systematic scheme for the description of a physical process (equilibrium or non-equilibrium, discrete or continuous) must also be built upon these two laws. Here we employ […]

Aaron Haspel | Posted September 26, 2004 @ 6:06 PM | Alpha Theory