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  1. R

    Python Can I ask some basic Python installation questions?

    I finally decided to do something I've been meaning to do for a couple years, namely learn Python. I opted for a Coursera course sponsored by IBM. They provide a "lab" that has everything you need to write and test code fragments in Python 3. But now I'm at the point of wanting my own...
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    Why don't they sell the interesting flavors in the US?

    This meditation is prompted by the cold I'm currently suffering. One of the products I like is a very intensely-flavored cough drop called "Fisherman's Friend". I found a mostly-full package in the house and commented to my wife that it was Mint flavor. "We must have picked that up in Germany"...
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    I Fair distribution, minimizing envy

    There's a lot of explanation before getting to my question. Sorry about that. This came out of a Thanksgiving table discussion. There are a number of mathematicians in my extended family. The problem is how to divide things so that everybody is happy with the outcome, using inexact means of...
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    Insight into the conceptual gap and how to fill it

    I recently started volunteer math tutoring in an after school program in a city near me. This is one of the poorest cities in the state, and the students' math preparation is about as bad as you'd expect. The after school program is not part of the school system, it's run by a non-profit. I work...
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    B Did Ramanujan's work look like crackpottery?

    I happened to come across an old thread, "What counts as crackpottery?" and the above question came to my mind. The story is well known that he developed his results on his own without access to standard mathematical notation, and so when he began corresponding with mathematicians at...
  6. R

    Need a cancer to fit a fictional plot

    Summary: For fictional purposes, looking for a cancer which has a very low survival rate but which a patient might be fighting for 1-2 years I'm sure that this is actually a fairly common sub-genre of medical questions, authors asking for a disease to fit a story. I have a lot of side...
  7. R

    What do you do with obsolete technology?

    Just wonder what other people do to handle the sentimental-value-but-useless decisions. I am attacking my attic this summer, one box at a time. A lot of those boxes are little time capsules, some of them going back years, when some surface or room or other was cleaned off by dumping a bunch of...
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    Science-related tourism in Paris

    I saw this thread and was going to piggy-back my question onto it, but decided to start a new thread rather than sidetrack the discussion. https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/when-in-paris-or-amsterdam.970795/ I too am going to be in Paris later this summer. My "problem" is that I will have a...
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    How did 19th century scientists measure atomic and molecular weight?

    Found myself wondering about this recently, though I can't recall the context. When Mendeleev proposed the periodic table of elements, I believe that it was known that atomic weights of the known elements were multiples of hydrogen's atomic weight. Presumably also with substances like oxygen...
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    Classical Physics "brain teaser" books?

    Many years ago in school, we used Jearl Walker's Flying Circus of Physics as a study tool. The physics principles covered are elementary, things you see in first-year physics. And yet he manages to ask questions that really test your understanding of those principles and your confidence in...
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    Portable chemical sensing technology

    I'm curious about what sort of technology is used for portable chemical sensing and how expensive or portable it is. For instance, I've occasionally been pulled aside by airport security, and they took a swab, wiped it on some piece of luggage and then as I recall (I didn't pay close attention)...
  12. R

    Does moisture increase friction on skin?

    This may be one of those things that everybody knew but me (come to think of it, I think I'll add it to the "things I learned today" thread elsewhere). There are some plastic bags I use which come on a roll. I have been struggling to open them when I remove a bag from the roll, rubbing...
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    Quantum Self education in modern physics

    In my physics education, I shied away from heavily theoretical stuff like General Relativity. I took the required sequence in Quantum Mechanics but having never used it on the job, much of that knowledge has faded too. I started a course in Quantum Field Theory but dropped it. I had friends...
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