You didn't invent that! Aircraft Turbine Chevrons Edition

I recently saw a tweet https://twitter.com/NASAAero/status/681540119615135745 NASA-developed chevrons to reduce noise! Cool! But where did those really come from? This post involves an intro about what aircraft engines are and how they work, and then an exploration of the patents that lead up to this invention, and the story of the organisations that were involved in developing them. Aircraft Engines The thing you see in the picture is something similar to what generates power in many large scale electrical…

Less Wrong shibboleths

There's a site that commanded certain popularity among a sizable fraction of the Smart Internet™, Less Wrong. Founded by Overcoming Bias co-blogger Eliezer Yudkowsky in 2009, and now mostly dead (The site, not Yudkowsky, lol) , it has spawned a number of separate communities that remain active. Shibbolethsare words or customs that serve to identify members of an ingroup from members of an outgroup. In this context, Less Wrong shibboleths are things that, if you read them, you know the writer probably has so…

2015 in Nintil: Top posts

So here we are one more year. Right now I'm preparing an article for next year about aircraft engine chevrons(!), but I had to do first the traditional retrospective post. This year has been really good for the blog: More views than the rest of the years combined! This is mostly because (I think) I switched to writing in English, and I got more readers that way. Also, because of some RTs by very popular twitter accounts (Thanks to Pseudoerasmus and Marc Andreessen!). This year I wrote 61 posts, compared to …

Slaying Alexander's Moloch

Scott Alexander wrote some time ago a piece titled Meditations on Moloch. As far as I know, there are two or three replies to it, here and here. He replied to some critiques here. The theme of the essay, as we will see, is a reflection on the general human condition, and on our future. Still, Scott is too pessimistic, and I’ll proceed to give him reasons to believe that niceness, after all, can triumph. It basically takes one or two little things, like to relax his apparent assumption of 100% selfish behavi…

Why so many utilitarians?

In this post I try to give some reasons why there are so many utilitarians among smart people, from personal experience reading things on the net. The point of this post is not to criticise or defend utilitarianism, just offer a presentation of the reasons why some people, I think, tend to favour it. I begin with a quote from Loren Lomasky, defining what we are talking about. You can also go to the SEP. For present purposes, a theory is said to be (more or less) utilitarian to the extent it satisfies the f…

The antonymical fallacy

I think there's an informal  fallacy that doesn't have a name of its own. I tried looking and couldn't find it, so I named it the antonymical fallacy. Maybe it does already exist. If it does, please tell me! It is closely related to the False dilemma informal fallacy. So the idea is this: There is a difference between the negation and the antonym (or antonym-like word) of something. Some antonyms are indeed the logical negation of the original word, but not all! not-tall does not equal small (it can me medi…