Tag Archives: Science By Number

Lee Smolin expands on Einstein and the Improving Social Dynamics of the Physics Community

Smolin lectures

Lee Smolin is a familiar face associated with the Perimeter Institute, especially with the Theoretical Physics Department that he heads, gave is a very close on the social dynamics of higher Education in the area of Science and Higher Education.  We compared a lot of how the behaviors evolved over a span of an approximate 80-100 years when Smolin gave us the scoop on Einstein’s personality which ended up being backwards from what I had always heard him as being commonly portrayed.  Rather than the geeky shy store patent clerk, Einstein was clever, hate to say it, borderline arrogant, and calculating.  But as we ventured on in the realm of how to professionally survive if you are a minority going into science, we quickly learned you couldn’t really afford to anything short of that.  The environment has softened…?  Ok, they sandpapered the splinters off the corners…OK, I hear they are preparing to!

But in all due time, and considering how long it takes for us to be kind to one another, the playing field between minorities and the old grand crowd of older white haired men, is starting to get some excellent color in its rooms in large part I wonder, if the globalizing of the economy hasn’t had its own influence.

We are more connected today than our grandfathers could’ve imagined, and I only see the walls melting away as we become more and more interdependent as a global and thriving world economy.  Science has its very special role, and now with rapid advancement in technology, neuroscience is finally beginning to bloom from its tiny bud into a much sought after discipline as its progress will and is tightly interrelated with the co-progress in Cognitive Sciences and Artificial Intelligence for Real World Applications.

Here, We talk about more of the touchy social issues that are rampant, or were and are improving, in the Hard Sciences with respect to Higher Education and Post Doctoral Research communities.  As some healthy helpings of side dishes to go with the audio, I wanted to include links of PI, Smolin, and the ARCHIVE of ALL the lectures they held for the public…(like a candy store to me)  for those curious to dive further in:

Here is a talk and panal on Lee Smolin’s new take on time which engages not just the physicist, but there is also a philosopher on board so kudos to expanding to different disciplines, this idea is going to need a village to figure it out.


Quora asks: What’s it like to study at PI?

Perimeter Institute’s General Lecture Series which it makes as available as possible

The Archive of the Lectures for the obsessed Undergrad like myself.

Lee Smolin’s Profile and I believe even a way to reach him

Perimeter Institute’s Outreach Facebook Page – Drop By!

Science By Number Official Facebook Page

Jes Scott’s (the one writing this fresh report) Facebook Page open to the entire Public for anyone curious to check up on developments

My Partner in Crime, Jenny Nielsen’s Facebook Page which has some very interesting oddities too

Liz Montizanti Explains the Psychology of Poker

Liz at the table

Here is round Two with Liz the Professional Poker Player.  Here we go more in depth on psychological strategies, betting strategies, risk analysis, fish analogies, sharks, wales, tanks, the works.  Liz explains that the best part of playing is going up against really good players and learning to better her own game.

Here is a quick summery of how psychology plays in from a synopsis of the book “The Psychology of Poker” by Alan Schoonmaker;


“Poker demands many skills and strategies. To be successful, you must be able to master all of them and then apply them at the appropriate times. They include proper hand selection, bluffing, semi-bluffing, understanding tells and telegraphs, and reading hands. These skills do not come easily since they require unnatural actions. You cannot win just by “doing what comes naturally,” Dr. Schoonmaker is concerned “only with the way that psychological factors affect your own and your opponents’ ability to play properly. For example, have you ever wondered why some players seem extremely aggressive while others are passive? Why some are tight and others loose? Furthermore, have you ever wondered why some tactics seem to come naturally to you while others don’t? This text will answer many of these questions. It will explain why you and your opponents play the way you do. The author also suggests strategic adjustments that you should make to improve your results against different types of players, and he suggests personal adjustments that will help you to play better and enjoy the game more.”

The Psychology of Poker from Google Books


Science By Number explores Poker with Elizabeth Montizanti, a Pro Poker Player

Elizabeth in her game zone

Elizabeth in her game zone

Elizabeth is an actual Professional Poker Player and Science By Number had lots of questions about what the game involves. We got a short statistics lesson, and even a book recommendation titled “The Mathematics of Poker”  written by a BlackJack Player.  I’m already lost.

Jen plays poker as an amateur, Jes has never played.  This was a huge learning curve for Jes, and hopefully enough fundamental questions were posed  to call out to the beginning poker players out there.

The dynamics of Poker actually pulls on a very wide range of disciplines.  A lot of it is psychological and involves risk analysis. Does it help to know Math, Game Theory, and Mathematical Economics?   Not really, in fact, the best one can do is to practice and dedicate many many many hours to learning how to read risks, other peoples’ behaviors, and read a sense of the dynamics going on at the table.  Intuition may serve far much better than raw critical analysis.

Elizabeth’s facebook Page

Science By Number Facebook Page

For more questions feel free to drop Science By Number, or Elizabeth a note.

Currently we are hosted by Mercury Broadcasting and here is their page as well for more episodes and other interesting topics.

Mercury Broadcasting

Sabine sheds light on the problems in Physics’ Post Doc Research and funding

Two weeks ago, Science By Number was introduced to an area of research in Quantum Gravity that is rarely mentioned – Quantum Gravity Phenomenology.  It seems ever since the phrase “Non-Empirical Based Evidence” has been coined, those who fear Science with lose to the seductive callings of beautiful math have been speaking up more, expressing genuine (and legitimate) concern for entertaining the idea.(P.S. — This tweet just in.  literally. I couldn’t of planned this any better even if I had an infinite amount of universes to try it in…)

Appropriate Question

Appropriate Question

To start off, I would like to give John Horgan his job back and let him explain the inter-workings of why the idea of no evidence for mathematically consistent models is just simply not enough (don’t get me started too, and I’m just the undergrad watching all of this unfold…mind blown.)

“How to decide which theory is the most promising one is a pressing question in an area starved of data, and it was also the central question at the Munich workshop I attended in December. How can non-empirical arguments increase confidence in a theory?

The use of non-empirical arguments in theory development is nothing new, what is new is that its relevance is much larger now that it takes so long to test theories.

Theorists use non-empirical theory assessment all the time, when they decide what to work on or even what conference to go to. In principle that is reasonable, taking into account all knowledge that has accumulated about a theory, such as how well it’s been shown to be compatible with already confirmed theories or how many alternative explanations there are. But the problem is that this non-empirical assessment can, and almost certainly is, skewed by social and cognitive biases.”  – Sabine Hossenfelder 


But there is something more insidious going that is an actual real challenge to try and fix.  It’s a two punch combination of grad students not going into other areas of research because if you aren’t working on String, you won’t be getting paid for your help.  This REALLY begs the question whenever someone says “String theory is the only game in town!” Well..is it because it is correct, or because it was the only one that gained popular traction, and consequently more funding in hope that it would prove itself as it claims itself.   Either way, today, if you want to do work in Quantum Gravity Phenomenology, you may have to work on a more popular trending idea until something somewhere gives.

Sabine is currently expressing this to be, in part, a mess that cognitive bias is aiding in causing, and that scientists, are people too.  And this idea? I like.  I fear the day we are not susceptible to the deeper underlying currents of human nature.  But that also means, there are methods we can adopt  to change this.  We don’t have to keep perpetuating the current status quo.  I will be very curious to watch what happens and as always,

For those who want a youtube accompainied slide to a snippet of the previous interview, you will never guess what I found on accident! And again, thank you, Sabine, for keeping me on my toes!


Science On.

Jes and Jen

Sabine Hossenfelder Talks about Phenomenology with Science By Number

11705507_10153570477819574_2413192033013411831_oSabine Hossenfelder takes Science By Number on the tour of Quantum Gravity Phenomenology – in other words – there are theorists who just do math, then there are theorists who specifically apply the math  – or extend these theories to something we could actually observe in a lab.  This is where an interesting realm that is rarely talked about exists…I call it the theoretical experimentalists.

What it really is, is the natural and recently less mentioned right hand of physics – experiment…how do we devise a method to test these theories. This is what Sabine is after in terms of Quantum Gravity.  We have heard about Quantum Mechanics phenomenology but we hear very little about Quantum Gravity phenomenology.  Science By Number discusses what the word Backreaction actually  means (I had to ask), What Quantum Gravity phenomenology is, and what Sabine means when she says she researching this.


Sabine’s Blog on Quantum Gravity Phenomenology

Sabine’s Facebook Page

Dr. Bunny

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