May 11, 2012
Few realize the key role played by a long-discredited 18th century mathematical theory in finding and recovering the wreckage of AF 447.
After a fruitless two-year search for Air France Flight 447, Bayes’ rule pointed to its most probable location—where it was found after only one week of undersea searching.
The 2009 crash of AF 447 was one of the most mysterious accidents in aviation history. (more…)
May 6, 2012
I just read and enjoyed The Periodic Table: A Very Short Introduction, by Eric R. Scerri (Oxford 2012).
The periodic table of the elements is one of the icons of science. As author Eric Scerri writes, “The periodic table ranks as one of the most fruitful and unifying ideas in the whole of modern science, (more…)
April 9, 2012
Bill Bryson’s interesting comments about the Rev. Thomas Bayes—comments repeated in two of his recent bestsellers and in a speech before the Royal Society of London—may leave a misleading impression.
Curiously, Bryson says that Bayes’ theorem had “no practical applications at all in his own lifetime.” In fact, Bayes’ theorem was (more…)
March 3, 2012
CHANCE magazine this week: ”The Theory That Would Not Die is ...carefully balanced to be accessible to a lay audience while captivating to a statistical one. Told without formulas, this eloquently written story is the history of an idea—a far-from-exhaustive, but enlightening, chronicle of the triumphs of Bayesian analysis.”
CHANCE's cover story is an interview with me about writing the book.
Chance editors interviewed me extensively – in Paris, in Maryland, in Washington DC., and by email. They asked probing questions– including my opinion of some of the book's critics on Amazon.com.
The issue also has a review by Christian Robert and a Letter from Editor Sam Behseta.
Chance is the American Statistical Association’s magazine for general readers interested in analyzing data.
And who are the three men on the cover? Laplace is front and center – where he should be. Thomas Bayes is on the left and Harold Jeffreys on the right.
February 27, 2012
Tracing the origins of spam filters back to the U-boat battles of World War II. Hearing about Stanford's lack of interest in probabilities in the late 1980s. And an intriguing question: Was Bill Gates a Bayesian?
February 23, 2012
The British government has refused to issue a posthumous pardon to computer pioneer Alan Turing.
Despite petitions from Turing fans worldwide, the Conservative government of David Cameron nixed a pardon.
The decision came three years after the Labor Party government of Gordon Brown apologized for Britain’s treatment of Turing.
Turing, who used Bayes’ rule to break the Nazis’ Enigma code to save his country during World War II, was arrested as a homosexual in 1952 and committed suicide in 1954. (more…)
February 23, 2012
Spain has announced that the US may cleanup the results of an H-bomb accident it caused in the little village of Palomares 46 years ago.
Almost half a century after the U.S. Air Force accidentally dropped four hydrogen bombs near a remote Spanish fishing village, the Obama administration may help clean up plutonium-polluted soil (more…)
February 23, 2012
Readers have asked how they can learn to calculate Bayesian problems. So I asked the experts for some help. They responded with some problems that are now on my website McGrayne.com. Go to the page for simple math problems, and click on the link there.