Monday, October 24, 2016

And Yet It Moves: Gravitational Waves

"The moment he was set at liberty, he looked up to the sky and down to the ground, and, stamping with his foot, in a contemplative mood, said, Eppur si muove [And yet it moves], meaning the earth."1
Giuseppe Baretti, on Galileo Galilei

Galileo Galilei knew the Earth revolved around the Sun and that it wasn't, as the Catholic Church would have him believe, some unmoving object around which everything else revolved. Despite religious pressure to acquiesce, he refused. Nearly 70 years prior to this "Galileo affair" as it has come to be known, Copernicus had published the first mathematical, geometric system to place the sun at the center of the solar system in his widely circulated book entitled On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres (1543). Galileo, using a new invention called a telescope, was able to confirm these mathematical computations through observation, albeit indirectly. Although he was later confined to his house by order of the church for challenging the Bible's teaching in Chronicles 16:30, which states "the world is firmly established; it cannot be moved", he remained resolute, stating "and yet it moves".

In effect, Copernicus and Galileo demonstrated a common approach to the accumulation of scientific knowledge, that is, through mathematical prediction and observation - and the obstacles that must be overcome to bring this knowledge to light. Likewise, gravitational waves were also predicted by mathematics, but in the early 20th century, nobody knew how to measure them. On Feb. 11, 2016, after a long struggle and costing over half a billion dollars, our perception of reality was fundamentally altered when gravitational waves were announced to have finally been directly observed.

This article was written by Patrick Rhodes and published on January 12, 2016. Click here to read the rest of the article.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Artificial Intelligence: Solving the Chinese Room Argument

Yesterday, the very best AI (artificial intelligence) had trouble beating a novice human chess player. Today, the very best human player has enormous difficulty beating the best AI. Tomorrow, the very best human player will never beat any AI. However, that's not the worst news you've heard. This is:
Computers have no idea how to play chess whatsoever.
They also don't understand Chinese, but that doesn't stop them from trouncing us in chess or speaking Chinese. Let's find out how this is possible and speculate on whether or not we can actually create an AI capable of true understanding.

Yesterday: Pong

Mankind has been dreaming of AI since antiquity, so the idea is not new. Ancient Greek mythology, for example, tells of a giant bronze robot named Talos whose task it was to patrol the shores of Crete, protecting the inhabitants from invaders. In the Far East, circa 3rd century BC, the Chinese 'Lie Ze' text gives an account of mechanical men being given to King Mu of Zhou. Evidently, these automations were so lifelike that the king had some torn apart to ensure they were, in fact, artificial. The point is, the idea of thinking machines has been around for millennia.
This article was written by Patrick Rhodes and published on January 12, 2016. Click here to read the rest of the article.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Pluto: To Catch an Icy King

Sly as a fox, it is. Mysterious and diminutive, it has eluded us for decades. Despite what we've learned about Pluto, constant debate continues to rage over its classification. From the moment it was discovered, astronomers have bickered over this icy body and its place in our solar system. Was it Planet X? Is it a planet at all? Did it really 'have it coming'? We've all longed to know more about this categorization-resistant body which has stirred up so much controversy in news and astronomy circles alike. How did we get so riled up about an icy rock so far distant? To understand that, we must start at the beginning.

Planet X

Before there was Pluto, there was Planet X.

Allow me to set the scene for you: It is the mid-1800s in Europe and North America. People are migrating to cities en masse, lured by the economics of the Industrial Revolution. As the number of mechanical monstrosities increase, so too does the pace of scientific discovery. Charles Darwin has just published The Origin of Species (original full title and certified mouthful: "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life") which inflames the science-vs-religion debate. The planet Neptune is discovered. This, coupled with Uranus' prior discovery in the late 1700s raises the possibility that more, undiscovered worlds exist in our solar system.

This article was written by Patrick Rhodes and published on June 4, 2015. Click here to read the rest of the article.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Can Bradley Wiggins Do It? Welcome to the Thunder-Drome!

Many have tried. Most have failed.
Bradley Wiggins knows this. He also knows the ordeal he faces, knows the pain he will endure and knows the scrutiny he will face. It's nothing he hasn't experienced before, having raced and won the world's most prestigious cycling event: the Tour de France. This is a different animal, however. The demands placed upon his body will be much different than any road race in which he has competed. He will exert max effort under controlled conditions for exactly one hour after which, the distance he's covered will be measured.

There will be no other riders to chase nor any to attack. There will be no feed stations nor assistance of any kind. He will pedal within himself, in his own head, or as he calls it: his "escape" zone.

Welcome to the Thunder "drome", Sir Bradley Wiggins. Welcome to the World Hour Record.

This article was written by Patrick Rhodes and published on June 4, 2015. Click here to read the rest of the article.

Friday, April 17, 2015

It's a Batsman's World (Cup)

The 2015 Cricket World Cup rewrote the record books in dramatic fashion. Amidst the usual insanity that surrounds this event, there were some amazingly good - and bad - performances. Batting-wise, some of the previous records were smashed into oblivion. There are several reasons for this, but recent rule changes seem to have tipped the scales in favor of those men who can wield the willow. As the pinnacle event for the world's (arguably) second-most popular sport comes to a close, let's take a look at some of the more outstanding feats.

Feat #1: Pakistan goes 1 for 4

Let's start with a record in futility first. In a group-stage match against the West Indies (ODI match #3608) in which Pakistan were favored to win, things couldn't have started worse for the Green Shirts. Choosing to bat last due to a bit of moisture still on the pitch, Pakistan hoped to make quick work of the West Indies' openers. In fact, this plan worked rather well as the first four batsman started sluggishly, only managing a run-rate of around 4. However, things picked up for the West Indies as they tallied 310 runs on the day.
This article was written by Patrick Rhodes and published on April 16, 2015. Click here to read the rest of the article.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Career NBA: The Road Least Traveled

The bell rings - time to go to practice. Jarnell Stokes heads over to the gym, changes, and starts warming up with his teammates. It's his Junior year in high school. The Memphis, Tennessee native has a lot on his mind; soon he'll have to make a choice - a choice which will affect his future. Sitting on his table back home are basketball scholarship offers [1] from the universities of Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, Memphis, Mississippi and Tennessee.

It's a long, lonely road to the NBA
It's quite rare for a high school athlete to receive a sports scholarship to even a single college, much less multiple schools. As we'll come to see, he's quite the statistical outlier in the world of basketball. Most do not play beyond high school. Those that do rarely possess the world-class talent to play in the NBA (National Basketball Association). That being said, what are Jarnell's chances that he could make a career playing in the NBA?

This article was written by Patrick Rhodes - the the author of "Graph of the Week" - for Statistics Views and published on February 27, 2015. Read the rest of this article there.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Rise of the Samurai Pitcher

Masahiro Tanaka stands on the mound, rubbing the ball vigorously between his hands. It's a crisp, cool night in the Bronx. Stepping back, he digs his right foot into the rubber, winds up and, with a seven-foot stretch, steps towards the catcher, unleashing a blistering four-seam, 95 mph fastball. Less than half a second later, it explodes into the catcher's mitt with a loudpop. The batter can only stand and watch as it flies by. Strike one!

It's a common scene when Tanaka takes the mound for the New York Yankees. With the focus and discipline of a Samurai warrior, their star rookie pitcher has taken Major League Baseball (MLB) by storm in 2014. His stats[1] (as of August 15, 2014) are gaudy: 2.51 ERA(Earned Run Average), 12-4 record and a 1.01 WHIP (Walks and Hits per Inning Pitched). Further, the guy's a strikeout machine, fanning 135 hitters vs only 19 walks. Tanaka is the latest Japanese ace to infiltrate MLB. Twenty years ago, you'd have to look long and hard to find a Japanese pitcher in this league (in fact, you'd find only one: Hideo Nomo, aka the "Tornado"), but today, it is an increasingly common site. What's going on?

This article was written by Patrick Rhodes - the the author of "Graph of the Week" - for Statistics Views and published on January 30, 2014. Read the rest of this article there.
Stylify Your Blog