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September 06, 2008

Comments

James Schneider

I find your car argument compelling.

not an economist

I find your photograph of Sarah Palin rather compelling ...

How old is she there?

GeoffH

The car argument is wrong.

The bulk of new registrations is accounted for fleet vehicles; in the '60s it was private owners who led purchases.

Now it's perfectly true that today's cars are better in all respects than those of the '60s but fleets don't necessarily extend the life of their ownership to take advantage of that. It's not necessary. If they did they'd lose the advantage of bulk purchase discounts, corporation tax advantages etc.

And, of course, fleet managers don't buy second-owner vehicles for how could they get the volumes, to the quality they require?

Fleet purchases are a direct reflection of economic activity. That's why new car sales are down from '60s levels.

Of course, private buyers do best to wait for fleet vehicles to come on the market at their second-user price.

Brian

With relation to 4-because science is so counter-intuitive in its results, and requires both a degree of intelligence and a lot of hard study and thought to ever remotely understand. It is increasingly specialised so even say, chemists, will have little than rudimentary knowledge of say, particle physics.

Easy answer to your question, as for what to do-way more difficult

not an economist

May I add that this photograph is also wrong. Its a fake. A product of a photo shop session. One of several that surfaced after Sarah was announced as McCain's running mate.

I have never been so bitterly dissapointed ....

dearieme

The scientific way of thinking is perfectly compatible with hypothesising that the LHC will do us all in: the test of the hypothesis follows shortly. As for the ignoramus in the street - he presumably suspects that much of the stuff passed off to him as science is just tosh. He's right, too.

Dipper

Can anyone think of any practical good that will come form playing with fundamental particles at high energy?

Blissex

«Can anyone think of any practical good that will come form playing with fundamental particles at high energy?»

Quite a bit! The properties of many materials depend on a good understanding of their atomic structure, and that depends on having a good model of how the particles interact, and there are many peculiar interactions.

The current models of that stuff have some critical incompleteness, where some guesses have not been confirmed and some constants are not known or not that well, and there are a few competing frameworks to fill the gaps.

The LHC will do experiments that will allow "calibrating" our current model(s) or force the selection of a better model.

The properties of elementary particles are so peculiar that tiny differences portend large usable/practical effects.

chris

Who cares if the photo's fake? No-one comes here for the big-T truth. As I said, there's a trade-off between "truth" and utility:
http://stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com/stumbling_and_mumbling/2006/01/truth_versus_ut.html

dearieme

"Quite a bit! The properties of many materials depend on a good understanding of their atomic structure.....": oh, pull the other one. Material properties are dominated by chemistry i.e. the antics of the outer orbitals of electrons. Stuff that's tiny even by nuclear standards just doesn't intrude at the practical level, however important it might be in principle.

Matthew

The 'worst for 40 years' is a silly comparision as for much of that period August was the peak month for car sales (up to a quarter of the annual total) as the new numberplate letter came in. It's hard to adjust but I think it's probably the worst since 1996 on a like for like basis.

The new car argument is interesting , I was thinking the same thing today whilst driving with respect to a) the AA/RAC/other breakdown firms and b) the hard shoulder. But in fact I saw quite a lot of cars broken down and I don't think new car sales have been in a long-term decline which rather disproves it, doesn't it?

ajay

Can anyone think of any practical good that will come form playing with fundamental particles at high energy?

"No one has yet discovered any warlike purpose to be served by the theory of numbers or relativity, and it seems unlikely that anyone will do so for many years." GH Hardy, "A Mathematician's Apology", 1940.

dave heasman

". Last month was the worst August for new car sales since 1966. Isn’t this a sign that people are regaining their sanity?"

No, it's a sign that the month on which the new registration numbers come out has changed since 1966.

Asics shoes

This is very cute. I think that I am going to give it a try. thanks

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