Summer Reading: the Baroque Cycle

Young Allison caught up with me after the seminar on Friday to recommend Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s stories. I just laughed and told her that I had read them as they were published, way back in the 20th century. They still are funny.

I recommended Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle, which is great fun, and is the inspiration for my freshman seminar this fall: Systems of the World. Featured characters: Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Jenner, Pasteur, Lavoisier, Einstein, Pinchot, Alfred Wegener, Wiley Post, Watson and Crick, Turing, von Neumann, Adam Smith, and more.

Seminar on Risks in Nuclear Waste Disposal

Dr Sitakanta Mohanty from Southwest Research Institute will be giving a seminar on Friday, April 22, at 2pm in the UTSA College of Business, room BB 4.02.10. The subject is "SENSITIVITY ANALYSIS IN THE CONTEXT OF RISK SIGNIFICANCE," which sounds a bit vague. Dr M does risk analysis for nuclear waste disposal, so this is an interesting topic. One of his colleagues, Dr Bob Mason (former ASA President) says Mohanty is a great speaker, so be there!

Update: It was an excellent talk, and Dr Roy, our seminar guru, had obviously prepped Dr Mohanty that our seminars are packed with undergraduates*–the talk focussed on the process of risk analysis with the Yucca Mountain site as the example, and the technical detail was accessible to everyone. Not only did we learn a lot about the Yucca Mountain project, we gained a better appreciation for the job of risk analysis. Talking with Dr M after the seminar, he brought up the concept of risk dilution, which he intends to write a tutorial paper on, time permitting. This sounds like a topic for one of my famous problems, perhaps in the fall offering of Statistics 3513, Probability and Statistics.

*Isn’t it amazing what 10 points of extra credit will get students to do?