Archive for tunneler

the long way to a small angry planet [book review]

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2017 by xi'an

When leaving London last week, I went through the (very nice) bookstore in St Pancras International and saw this book by Becky Chambers. And bought it as I had read nice criticisms and liked both the title and the cover. I have been reading it at every free minute since then and eventually finished it last night. It is a very enjoyable novel, very homey despite it taking place mostly in interstellar space, as it goes through the personal stories of the members of a tunneller crew (tunnels meaning shortcuts between distant points in space, the astrophysics being a bit vague on how those are possible!). It is far from a masterpiece but the succession of scenes and characters is enjoyable enough to be enjoyable, with a final twist of a larger magnitude. Nothing profoundly innovative like Ancillary Justice [except for the openness about interspecies sex, this could have been written in the 50’s] or era-defining like Ender’s Game, or The Road, but a pleasant read by all means!


Posted in Books, pictures, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , on January 17, 2012 by xi'an

When I received Significance today—this is the december 2011 issue,  I glimpsed it contained a coverage of the movie Moneyball my son watched a few days ago. Being completely blank about baseball (as well as cricket, but thanks to the Significance editors for their effort!),  I could not follow the argument in the movie (and in the review by Ray Stefani and Jim Albert) that made a statistician more efficient than a baseball scout, but it sounds like a very good argument for the profession! (Having Brad Pitt playing one of the statistically inclined, if not the statistician as mentioned in the review, cannot hurt with the students.)

Thankfully, there was nothing about the Russian election! And then an unexpected piece about a tunneller and the connections drilling tunnels has with statistics and Monte Carlo simulation. As it happened, the editor of Significance ran into the engineer who eventually wrote this paper in a pub in Miami Beach during JSM 11! This reminded me of a chance encounter I had with another tunnel driller in a plane to the US, who was sitting next to me and showed me a movie of his tunneller drilling under one of the major US airports. (This must have been in 2002 as I seem to remember travelling to Banff for an IMS meeting, along with Arnaud Guillin…)

In addition, I also enjoyed the simulation challenge of reproducing every bit of each of Shakespeare’s work by [virtual] monkeys typing at random. And a bit less the simulation of Chopin’s mazurkas as the notes were written in the letter code (instead of do, ré, mi, &tc.).