Science writing by Ransom Stephens, Ph.D.
Science for the curious, life with technology, science in politics and religion
Who cares that we no longer have privacy? - Your inalienable right to privacy has been alienated; does losing this right threaten civilization? Self-driving cars will save money and lives as they destroy jobs - Self-driving cars will save us money, time, and prevent death and injuries, but at what cost? Mismeasure of economics - Is it impossible in principle to create accurate economic models? The high tech diversity problem’s bottom line - Diversifying the tech workforce means more than political appeasement; diversity sets the stage for innovation. Scientific dogmatism: wild red herring or trained attack dog? - Do science researchers have to submit to established scientific dogma? No, it doesn’t work that way. Simulated Education: STEM must change! - It's time for educating technology to make a sharp turn from problem solving to simulating systems. It will be expensive but will have the greatest RoI of any investment in history. Measuring money--the beer standard - Why do we pretend that small sheets of paper and cheap metal disks have inordinate value? It’s like the Emperor’s money is made of the same stuff as his new clothes, right? Well, sort of. Measure of emergence - from bee hives to consciousness, emergence seems like magic, but if you apply serious computing power, you can make sense of it. Sports should adopt real technology - From first-down chains to bright yellow lines along the outfield fences, to dubious goals, it’s time to put a little silicon inside the ball. The twisted future of optical signal modulation - A new optical modulation scheme that twists light into different states of orbital angular momentum could change fiber optics and wireless point-to-point data transmission.
The Data that threatened to break physics - In 2011, an experiment seemed to measure particles traveling faster than the speed of light; Ransom interviewed the (former) leader of the experiment to get the real story. Measuring dark matter: The ultimate signal-to-noise problem - How physicists try to detect dark matter is a good example of how the humans roll. Is dark matter about to be discovered? - Evidence for dark matter has been building for decades--it’s about time it showed up. Neutrinos: Nature’s most elusive particles - When neutrinos pass through matter, they rarely leave a trace, but when they do, it comes in the form of a ghostly ultra-violet cone of light. The quirks of quarks - Quarks follow a whole different set of rules than electrons. Electrons repel and the farther you separate them, the less force they feel—these behaviors are probably synonymous with your concept of “force,” but not after you read this article. Quantum wave functions come alive! May the Bohr Model rest in peace - Atomic wave functions have finally been measured and it’s now time to put the Bohr Model of the atom to rest, once and for all. Gravity Measuring gravitational radiation - Gravitational radiation must exist, but through a dozen years of searching, they have yet to be seen… In search of gravity waves - We see electromagnetic waves, why not gravity waves? Noise in the time dimension: the strange case of flicker - Flicker shows up in electric circuits, music, stars, brain waves, and the stock market and seems to indicate a significant relationship between distant events—but no one knows what it is. How Einstein discovered relativity - Did Einstein discover relativity all by himself? Or did problems in the old theory lead him to it?
For electrical engineers and technologists
For a complete library of signal integrity articles covering jitter & noise analysis, equalization, receiver testing, crosstalk, ... in high data rate systems like 400 Gigabit Ethernet, PCIe, USB, etc.
Neuroscience articles
Is one person’s reality anything like anyone else’s? - The funny thing about reality is that you can only get so close to it. Our senses compose an interface between our brains and the universe, a reality interface. Improve your answer resolution and unleash innovation - Answer resolution combines the intense focus needed to find nuance in the very similar with the intense defocus needed to find relationships among the very dissimilar. Reduce your prejudice to innovation - The biggest obstacle to innovation is our own internal prejudice systems and the "not invented here" mentality. Fortunately, we can get around them. 5 keys to unlocking your innate creativity  The speed of thought - The three timescales of thought dictate the time it takes to hit the brakes or to run from a tiger, but it takes longer to have an idea and much longer to learn how to do things quickly. The measure of free will and red herrings - Philosophies, codes of ethics, and religion all assume that we act with free will. Newton replaced free will with determinism; Heisenberg brought it back—or did he? The science of Sensory Deception - in Ransom’s eco-techno-science fiction thriller, three Si Valley geeks develop VR technology based on the relationship between the senses and the mind.
Neuroscience of innovation and creativity in art, science, and life -- the book
Ransom Stephens scientist, author, speaker
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Measure of Things Technology from the perspective of a scientist, science from the perspective of a technologist (sponsored by Electronics Design News)
The Left Brain Speaks, but The Right Brain Laughs  tackles neuroscience for lay-people with irreverence, wisecracks, and a physicist’s eye for scientific accuracy. With as little jargon as possible, each chapter builds a background for the reader to understand the interplay between what we too often think of as separate topics. Starting with a new and improved left-brain/right-brain oversimplification, each chapter investigates the inseparable interactions of seemingly distinct concepts, all building to a working understanding of creativity in art and science. Using examples that range from hanging out in bars to playing rock guitar to hunting hippos to surfing to impressionist art to the most important failed experiment of all time, we address consciousness, value, hops and malt, why we mourn each other’s deaths, and why we do what we do for money.
Bluffer’s Guide to Evaluating Scientific Results
Part 1:Systematic Bias How to determine the accuracy of scientific results reported in your daily newsfeeds. Part 2: Rules of Thumb Rules of thumb for estimating the significance of research results. Part 3: Why Some Results are Irreproducible Irreproducible results have come under attack but sometimes that’s just how nature rolls.
Physics for lay-people: quantum physics, relativity, particle physics