Baseball (crop)I am not a baseball fan. I have been to only one baseball game. This was an LA Dodgers game when I was working in LA. The Dodgers lost, and the highlight for me was the hotdog. But baseball is known to be very nerd friendly as it generates lots of stats: batting averages, pitching averages etc. At the moment, I am reading and enjoying a book called The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver. He started out analysing baseball stats before moving on to analyse stats outside sport. So, a question for you: Which of the two industries below uses a careful detailed analysis of meaningful statistics, in which the scientific method is applied, and errors are systematically weeded out:

  1. The industry that values mortgages, in particular the agencies that assess the probability that a mortgage will not be repaid.
  2. Professional baseball in the United States.

The answer, obviously, is 2. This answer leads to a second question: How come we are living in a world where a professional sport is fundamentally run a lot better than the financial institutions that have all our money? Seriously, where did we go wrong?

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NoetherThe picture is of Emmy Noether, a theoretical physicist/mathematician from the first half of the twentieth century. Despite coming up with one of the deepest theorems in physics, she is not well known, in particular, her contemporary Marie Curie is much better known.

A large majority of the physicists who have revolutionised our understanding of the natural world have been men. This leaves a shortage of role models for young female physicists; a shortage that often seems to be filled by mentioning Marie Curie over and over again. I am not sure why Noether is not mentioned more, not least to avoid giving the impression that early 20th century physics was done by 100 men plus Marie Curie.

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