September 10, 2008

Still alive

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at September 10, 2008 7:39 PM

Today at work we were discussing the self-styled "simplest weather report ever", umbrellatoday.com. Also useful is the similarly-designed hasthelargehadroncolliderdestroyedtheworldyet.com (via a GChat status message). Personally, I keep meaning to quote Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Oz on the subject: "But we know the world didn't end, 'cause... check it out."

In my new career the big question to ask is not whether the world will end, but whether one can make money off people's belief that it will. Intrade doesn't seem to have a futures contract on whether the LHC will destroy the Earth, but you can buy or sell the discovery of the Higgs boson.

Of course, if you are trying to destroy the Earth, and you've lost confidence in the LHC, you might find your Plan B at this page.

Tags: Apocalypse, Physics, Psychoceramics, Science
Comments

My zip code was sadly invalid for umbrellatoday.com. I just check my weather widget anyway (when I remember), and I'm in the UK, so I basically should just always take my umbrella with me anyway.

I love the 'hasthelarge...' website. That's pretty funny.

The intrade link seems to have a typo (it adds the url to the AG.net one), and Somerville apparently blocks the correct one because it thinks it's a gambling site or something.

The 'how to destroy the earth' page looks like it will be fun to read, but it's also pretty long, so I'll add it to my queue and maybe (hopefully) get to it eventually.

Given the money-making bit, have you read articles about the extreme-event (hurricanes and whatnot) investment business. I think some of them are actually using some interesting mathematics about how to predict the probabilities of rare events.

Posted by: Mason Porter | September 11, 2008 4:27 AM

One Berkeley Physics grad student I know of left the department to join a firm doing that kind of risk modeling. It's definitely an interesting problem.

InTrade is very arguably a gambling site even though it's structured as a market; this is presumably why they're based in Ireland as such a site would be illegal in most U.S. states. The only twist is that there aren't oddsmakers, but rather the odds you get are determined by what InTrade users in the aggregate are willing to pay to take the opposite position.

In principle one could set up hedging positions on InTrade against real-world events, giving it more legitimacy beyond pure speculation (or arbitrage). It's probably impractical due to the low volumes traded though.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | September 11, 2008 4:59 PM

Via Making Light, there are even webcams you can use to monitor the LHC!

I, for one, welcome our black hole overlords.

Posted by: Zifnab | September 12, 2008 2:27 AM

As Ike came slamming ashore, I found that the song in my head was "It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine."

I was also really happy to be in Dallas.

Posted by: JSpur | September 13, 2008 4:56 PM

I just got a tip to check out the source code at those LHC sites if you haven't yet. Hilarious!

Posted by: Mason Porter | September 15, 2008 12:04 PM
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