World of Wonders

TJ Radcliffe
Precisely 1000 word essays on knowledge and reality
Created 20 Feb 2021
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  • Everything is Impossible
    01 Oct 2021 • 4 min read
    Every now and then someone who has never developed anything new and taken it to market successfully comes along and looks at a technology that is in the early stages of development. Rockets, semicondu...
  • Recombination, Chromosomes, and You
    24 Sep 2021 • 4 min read
    If not for the magic of recombinant DNA, about half the people reading this would be completely unrelated to one of their great-great-grandparents. To understand why requires little more than simple a...
  • Which came first?
    17 Sep 2021 • 4 min read
    "In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded," at least according to Sir Terry Pratchett, the late and much-lamented English satirist. What that "nothing" was and why it exploded are left as an...
  • A Bit About Batteries
    10 Sep 2021 • 4 min read
    Batteries are the technology that will change the 21st century. I'm a physicist, not a chemist, so take all of this with a grain of salt. Battery technology has fascinated me for a long time, but abou...
  • What if we couldn't be mean to each other?
    03 Sep 2021 • 4 min read
    As I believe Jesus said, "The trolls will always be with us." Or maybe it was poverty? But that can't be right because we're doing a fairly good job eliminating poverty by dint of a combination of glo...
  • Masks, Ventilation, Vaccination
    27 Aug 2021 • 8 min read
    [This is a big topic, and I’ve doubled my usual length to precisely 2000 words to cover it. Hopefully by the time you read this some of the policies I advocate for here have come into force in BC and ...
  • Why is Quantum Mechanics Hard?
    20 Aug 2021 • 4 min read
    Why can't a physicist make quantum physics understandable to the average person? This is a question that gets asked a lot, sometimes querulously, sometimes suspiciously, as if we were all engaged in s...
  • Hunting snarks via solid state analogues
    13 Aug 2021 • 4 min read
    Our knowledge of reality accumulates in fits and starts, sometimes slowly progressing as we fill in details about things we're pretty sure exist, sometimes stumbling upon the entirely unexpected, and ...
  • Alien Earthquakes
    06 Aug 2021 • 4 min read
    Knowledge comes from differences, from variations and gradients. Studying ten copies of the same system won't generally tell you very much more than studying a single one. Studying ten different syste...
  • War... what's it really good for?
    30 Jul 2021 • 4 min read
    There is a minor paradox in economics called "the war puzzle". It goes like this: in any situation where two groups of people are in conflict, they will almost always gain the greatest net benefit by ...
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