New and Improved
Last update: 18 August 2013
“What is the heaviest stable element?” This question,
easily posed, is not so easy to answer. In fact, nobody
knows. This document explores the stability of heavy
elements, the difficulty of experimentally confirming theoretical
predictions of very rare events, and elements whose half-lives are
longer than the lives of all stars in the universe.
In April 2013 I had the privilege of visiting CERN: the premier
particle physics laboratory in the world. This
photo essay shows some of the
underground wonders of the largest and most complicated
machine ever built by our species.
We decided to celebrate our fortieth wedding anniversary by going
South for the winter in January 2013. This being Fourmilab, no half
measures would suffice short of going all the way—to
the South Pole. We'd already
been to the North Pole so, hey,
we could become officially bipolar! This photo essay chronicles
Having been nearsighted and requiring strong optical correction all my life, I
became accustomed ever since childhood to each eye exam calling for
ever stronger glasses. I'd heard that the rate of change could be expected
to decrease with age, but never that the trend could be reversed. Then,
in 2000, I got separate reading and driving glasses, and found myself
wearing the reading glasses almost all the time. Eight years later, it
was obvious to me that the correction of both were too strong, and when I
had my next eye exam in 2010, it showed the correction for both eyes was a
full dioptre less. This document recounts my anecdotal experience and what it
may mean for other nearsighted people.
There are many disadvantages to being a balding geezer. In
compensation, if you've managed to survive the second half of
the twentieth century and been involved in computing, there's bearing
personal witness to what happens when a
technological transition goes into full-tilt
exponential blow-off mode. I'm talking about Moore's Law—computing
power available at constant cost doubling every 18 months or so. When
Moore's Law is directly wired to your career and bank account,
it's nice to have a little thermometer you can use to see how it's
going as the years roll by. This page links to two benchmarks I've
used to evaluate computer performance ever since 1980. They focus on
things which matter dearly to me—floating point computation speed,
evaluation of trigonometric functions, and matrix algebra. If you're
interested in text searching or database retrieval speed, you should
run screaming from these benchmarks. Hey, they work for me.
New September 2012 update adds Haskell to the C, FORTRAN,
Visual Basic (6 and .NET) implementations of the original floating
point benchmark, and includes a comparison of the relative performance
of these languages.
This is a collection of postings from
and documents on this site
which relate to the paleo/primal/ancestral diet and lifestyle.
Most libertarians and conservatives have great respect for the rule
of law and civil discourse. They're inclined to assume their
opponents are well-intentioned
adversaries with a different vision of how to better the general welfare.
This is an error: they are not “liberals” or “progressives”,
but rather enemies of liberty and progress. This document explores why
champions of liberty must defeat them and how that might be accomplished.
Humans are omnivores and can eat a wide variety of food. However,
modern diets which include refined and processed foods and too few
fresh fruits and vegetables may result in shortages of
“micro-nutrients” which can increase the probability of
contracting a variety of diseases, reduce longevity, and impair mental
and physical performance. This document presents the dietary
supplements I have selected to avoid such problems. Every individual
is different, and no single supplement plan is appropriate for
everybody, so think of this list as a starting point for your own
research into the topic.
Legacy “mainstream” media outlets engage in numerous forms
of bias to advance their assorted agendas. One of the most subtle is
the selective use of “trigger words” which, due to
indoctrination and repetition, evoke an emotional response in the
audience which short-cuts rational judgement. Users of the
browser can install these two
user scripts to highlight trigger words in documents they read on the
Web, and automatically translate politically correct and slanted
bafflegab to plain talk.
Meat edition eschews neutrality in favour of mockery of legacy
This is a
of “incidental photography” posted on
Each photo in this graphical index is linked to a full-scale
enlargement, and images from Fourmilog have captions which link to the
In 1963, Analog was a large format monthly magazine,
part slick and part pulp, with a cover price of 50 cents. Its
eclectic readership and contents attracted some curious
advertisements, such as this one from Leesona Moos Laboratories
for aerospace devices self-powered by Krypton 85 nuclear batteries.
How many Analog readers in 1963 assumed that in a
couple of years there'd be nuclear flashlight batteries for sale
at the hardware store? This one certainly did.
- Book Reviews
- Nutritional Supplements
Gnome-o-grams are occasional postings from
which focus on finance and investing from a preservation of capital
perspective. These articles discuss both contemporary events and
provide generally applicable background information. They are
This time-lapse movie shows a year in the life of a Swiss
village at the rate of one day every second. A hay-mow to
the east of Fourmilab, agricultural land since the time of
the Roman Empire, sprouts three houses as the year elapses.
Complete photographic and movie production details are included,
as well as an interactive frame-by-frame image browser.
New November 2008 update includes an embedded
Flash video edition, directly viewable from most
The year is 1930. The stock market had crashed the previous October,
but the impact of that event wasn't at all clear. Even as the golden
age of radio was still building momentum toward creating the first
continental scale shared popular culture, the preeminent vendors of
the one-to-many connectivity technology of the epoch, AM radio, led
their pitch with price. Direct from this distant epoch, here is the
Radio Catalogue. It starts slowly and somewhat
tediously: the initial pages are obviously the same radio chassis sold
in a variety of different cabinets, but it gets better when we get
into the bits and pieces. There's even a half page devoted to
components for bleeding-edge early adopters experimenting with
mechanical scanning disc television!
Between July 19th and August 6th, 2008 I was off to the North
Pole—no, really—and thereafter to observe the
total eclipse of the Sun on August 1st. So how do you get to the
North Pole? Well, there's always the tedious dogsled method, but if
you're in a hurry, nothing beats a Russian nuclear powered
icebreaker. Here is a collection of images from the expedition,
including the ship, landscapes, wildlife, and the eclipse.
- Big Picture
- Trends and Indicators
- Black Swan Events
- Political Economy
- Book Reviews
- Recommended Articles at Other Web Sites
No mule to feed.
This 1910 du Pont pamphlet (scanned from an original
edition in the Fourmilab library) introduces farmers to the
labour-saving wonders of that modern agricultural
The combination of an
and a late snowstorm brought a White Easter
to Lignières in March 2008. It started snowing on Good Friday,
and continued to snow through the following Wednesday. If you didn't
dye the Easter eggs, they were exceptionally easy to hide in the
snowdrifts! Maybe we'll eventually find them when spring arrives.
I put it down to ManBearPig.
Nothing so instantly identifies the scribblings of intellectual
knuckle-walkers as riotously funny misuse of the apostrophe. This
humble punctuation mark has been the downfall not only of innumerable
greengrocers, but also self-possessed self-published authors and
pompous pundits. This document presents five easily-remembered rules
which will keep you from tripping over the apostrophe in your own
writing, and proclaims International Write Like a Moron
Day to commemorate those who can't be bothered with such
The “multiple worlds” interpretation of quantum mechanics
has entered the mainstream of physics, especially among studies of the
universe as a whole (quantum cosmology), the origins of physical law,
and the apparent “fine-tuning” of physical constants
which permit lifeforms like us to exist and speculate whence we
This document, a work in progress, suggests a small modification to
the multiple worlds interpretation which might explain many so-called
“paranormal” phenomena, showing them as deterministic and
unitary across the multiverse of possible futures yet open to
perceived influence by conscious observers endowed with a weak ability
to “navigate” their multiverse world-lines toward a future
of their choice. Applications of this model to a variety of reported
paranormal phenomena are presented.
This document is a Google Maps application which shows overhead
imagery of all of the sites of Autodesk's headquarters in
California and the European Software Centre in Switzerland from
the company's founding in 1982 through the present. The images
are linked directly to the Google Maps server and can be panned
and zoomed to explore the vicinity.
This gallery contains a collection of photographs from the early days
of Autodesk, including the presentation to prospective institutional
investors in Autodesk's initial public stock offering (IPO) in 1985,
trade show exhibits in 1984 and 1985, and the first use of AutoCAD
(and perhaps of any CAD system) in underwater archaeology in 1984.
The Hacker's Diet: How to Lose Weight and Hair through Stress and
Poor Nutrition book plus associated computer tools. You can
read the book on-line
on the World-Wide Web, or download a
copy to read or print off-line in either PostScript
or Adobe Acrobat PDF format.
The WWW and Adobe Acrobat versions have hot-links for all table
of contents items, cross-references, and index entries.
A set of Excel spreadsheets which accompany the book (but are
not necessary to use it) is also available
for downloading, and the weight logging and management tools
described in the book are also available for the
Palm Computing Platform.
New: Fourth Edition (2005) improves appearance, accessibility,
and ease of navigation; it strictly complies with the
No hands to pay.
You're farming now,
the modern way: