Technology

Bad Math Props Up Border Wall 18 October 2016

Estimating the cost (in dollars) of Donald Trump’s proposed border wall
It would be many times more expensive than he claims.
[MIT Technology Review]

New Directions 24 June 2016

On the way to Desert Storm, U.S. troops stopped in California in order to buy consumer GPS units at local stores.
A review of “Pinpoint” by Greg Milner and “Finding North” by George Michelsen Foy.
[Wall Street Journal]

The All-American iPhone 9 June 2016

What would it take to make iPhones in the US?
A thought experiment; doing so profitably is possible.
[MIT Technology Review]

The big dangers of ‘big data’ 2 February 2015

Don’t fall in love with every bit you meet
An essay about how the obsession with data is undermining social structures in government, business and life.
[CNN]

PR Stunts 2 December 2013

Amazon Prime Drone Delivery? It’s Hot Air
Why Amazon won’t be delivering packages with drones by 2015.
[Slate]

How many nuclear weapons does China have? 11 November 2013

Consensus: China Offers Limited Deterrent
Probably fewer than 300.
[Aviation Week and Space Technology–Subscription Required]

Bard of Folly 21 October 2013

Book Review: ‘Command and Control’ by Eric Schlosser
A fantastic new book about nuclear weapons, and what it says about technology more generally.
[The American Prospect]

Eyes in the sky 3 May 2013

What the rise of the helicopter tells us about the future of domestic drones.
How to think carefully about the spread of drones.
[Slate]

The end of the “La-Z-Boy era” of sequential programming 20 March 2013

What comes after Moore’s law?
The challenge of parallelism.
[Zocalo Public Square]

Why Didn’t We Know the Russian Meteor Was Coming? 15 February 2013
Learning Math From Software Is Like Learning Parenting
Skills From Second Life
29 June 2012
Why Johnny Can’t Add Without a Calculator 25 June 2012

Technology is doing to math education what industrial agriculture did to food: making it efficient, monotonous, and low-quality.
How and why graphing calculators, educational software, interactive whiteboards and the like undermine actual learning in elementary, middle and high schools.
[Slate]

What Economists Get Wrong About Science and Technology 17 May 2012
Building a laboratory on a hill 15 March 2012

A review of Jon Gertner’s “The Idea Factory”
A new book about Bell Labs succeeds in evoking the excitement of the place, though falls short on its exposition of the underlying science.
[Foreign Policy]

The Nucleus of the Digital Age 3 March 2012

A review of George Dyson’s “Turing’s Cathedral”
In pursuit of hydrogen bombs, a math genius and a brilliant tinkerer in Princeton developed the modern computer.
[Wall Street Journal]

The 40-year itch 5 October 2011

How to build a really awesome spaceship, maybe
Would-be space explorers, scientists, and a couple of crackpots gather at DARPA’s 100-Year Starship Symposium to try to get interstellar travel unstuck.
[Slate]

Salvaging space 1 September 2011

Cleaning up low-Earth-orbit debris might lead to new space technologies.
Why problems are sometimes useful to have.
[Slate]

Weapons in space 16 August 2011
The playstation and the warfighter 2 December 2004

Playing to win
Can video games help train soldiers?

Without resistance 3 June 2004

Full steam ahead
What superconductors can do