Monday, May 18, 2020

Too much spare time under quarantine??

Someone just figured out that it was possible to build a GOOGOL:1 gear reduction set using 186 Lego gears. Think of it this way. For every person you know who cannot add or explain the difference between a million and a billion, there is likely someone who does this sort of math for FUN. (Bell-shaped curve and all ;-) For extra fun, open this in YouTube and follow the comments. There's a bunch of math nerds out there!

Unfortunately, math nerds can only help a little with a problem like the Covid19 outbreak. In order to do good science, we need rigorous methods of collecting data—something made functionally impossible without widespread and highly accurate testing. We don't even make generic Advil in USA anymore. Those mass-produced accurate tests?—WAY harder. A safe and effective vaccine?—may never happen. Even treatments to control symptoms are still only in the imagining stage.

What this means is this is a disease that we are just going to have to learn to live with. Unfortunately, the folks in the businesses of managing meaningful social change such as political leaders are almost entirely populated by scientifically and mathematical illiterates who believe that major human problems are best addressed by scolding. It may be possible to organize a kindergarten that way but a global infectious pandemic?—probably not.


  1. That was a fun way to spend 10 minutes, and then thinking about what else that cat does for fun consumed another 30 mins, or so.

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