March 10, 2005

I should have published that.

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at March 10, 2005 9:26 PM

Kevin Drum points to an interesting economics study showing that most of the wealth in the US follows a Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution (I'm assuming—they just say "the same distribution as the energies of the atoms in a gas"). Only the top 3% follows a more traditional (?) Pareto law. I mention this because it's interesting, but also because I used the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution to model income for a class my freshman year. I only picked it because it was convenient for what I was modeling, and used some hand-waving justification that I didn't really believe. But it turns out I really was justified! Clearly I'm in the wrong field.

(In his intro to the post, Kevin Drum references one of David Goodstein's horrible physics puns, proving that Drum did indeed attend Caltech.)

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Yes, I did, but only for a couple of years. I knew when I was beaten.....

Posted by: Kevin Drum | March 11, 2005 5:03 PM

Ah, the spherical cow models of "complex systems" (the term applied statistical mechanics is better, but we're pretty much stuck with complex systems for that field). They can be quite interesting and insightful, although ideally it's best to have both minimalist models like that and more detail mechanistic models, because they can complement each other so nicely.

I recently communicated with one of the physicists quoted in the article to which Drum links. (I will be visiting he and his colleagues at Santa Fe Institute in the near future---most likely during the summer. We jointly agreed to wait until after job season is over for both of our sides, although this visit may lead to something at SFI if none of the current stuff works out. (Things are starting to get really complicated now, as the season for me now seems to be stretching from last July through April...)

Posted by: Mason | March 11, 2005 10:10 PM
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