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The occasional linklist – July 19, 2020

I have been pondering creating a column on my blog where I share links to articles I read and liked. I perform this function on Twitter at the moment, but the attention some links attract are rubbish, and I reflexively share only relatively bland things there these days as a result. I’m also starting to relish the privilege of not having a shitstorm erupt in my notifications just because I shared something – a link or a viewpoint – that someone disagreed with, and is now giving me headaches because I no longer have the option of ignoring them.

So here goes, the first instalment of articles I recently read and liked. 🙂

An introduction to physics that contains no equations is like an introduction to French that contains no French words, but tries instead to capture the essence of the language by discussing it in English. Of course, popular writers on physics must abide by that constraint because they are writing for mathematical illiterates, like me, who wouldn’t be able to understand the equations. … Such books don’t teach physical truths; what they teach is that physical truth is knowable in principle, because physicists know it. Ironically, this means that a layperson in science is in basically the same position as a layperson in religion.