In the wake of my very public relativity humiliation, I’ve decided to sentence myself to a one-month punishment term of only blogging about things that I actually understand. That means, unfortunately, that from now until September 27 this blog is going to be quite boring and limited in scope. It also means that Lev R.’s prizewinning question, about the survival prospects of the human race, will need to be deferred until after the punishment term.

To be clear: No string theory. No global warming. No biting vaginas. No Mahmoud. Quantum complexity classes are probably kosher.

The remainder of today’s entry will be about the topic of bananas. Bananas are long, yellow fruits that grow in bunches on some sort of plant or other. They consist of two components: the peel, and the “meat.” Well, there are probably other components as well, but those two are the most readily identifiable. The meat is delicious when fresh, even more so if covered with chocolate. When not fresh, on the other hand, it tends to form brown spots. The peel is not so good to eat, but is reputed to good for tripping dumb, careless, unwary people. Like me.

21 Responses to “Bananas”

  1. Michael Anissimov Says:

    Nooo! Hey, all this talk of bananas actually makes me hungry… but when I get back I want to see some wild speculation and back-of-the-napkin calculations in fields outside your specialty!

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Alas, it seems you have made another publicly humiliating error: referring to the yellow-white squishy mush inside bananas as “meat”.

    You can’t do that. You just can’t.

  3. Scott Says:

    I did put quotes around it — so technically, I referred to it as “”meat””. I think I’m in the clear on this one.

  4. Aaron Denney Says:

    Yes, you can do that. The word “meat” has a long tradition of being used for food in general, with “flesh” being used for tasty animal parts. This still survives when talking about nuts.

  5. Bram Cohen Says:

    Scott, you misspelled “”meat””

  6. Scott Says:


  7. Fixpoint Says:

    What a let down! From your title, I was expecting some kind of quantum version of “Bananas, Lenses, Envelopes, and Barbed Wire”. I was looking forward to learning about Schrödinger’s Catamorphism.

  8. Leonid Says:

    Imagine the perfect world where nobody ventures beyond his area of expertise. Politicians are left with all the politics, generals with conducting wars, lawyers make all the laws…

    Bottomline, you should give yourself an early parole.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Hey Scott, I make more mistakes than you do. And besides, I just learned about bananas, a fruit I had never heard of.

  10. Jud Says:

    Aaron Denney:

    “Yes, you can do that. The word ‘meat’ has a long tradition of being used for food in general, with ‘flesh’ being used for tasty animal parts. This still survives when talking about nuts.”

    When talking about nuts, we call those tasty animal parts “prairie oysters.”

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Sorry Scott, but you’ve made yet another error. You defined bananas as a group of “yellow fruits,” but you have inadvertently left out the varieties bananas that ripen to other colors such as red or purple.

    Here’s a picture:

    I’m not sure how you went about your so-called research for this banana expose, but it seems you came up a bit short on facts. Your mishap just goes to show that even simple research needs to be done thoroughly. Or that you’re not an expert on tropical fruit. Or that you’re too busy thinking about speeding atoms to shop at the fancy grocery stores that sell different varieties of bananas.

    Oh well, I’m going to go eat an apple.

  12. Tony Ryan Says:

    I consider you an expert on biting vaginas.

  13. Tony Ryan Says:

    I consider you an expert on biting vaginas.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    I wonder if biting vaginas eat bananas…

  15. Anonymous Says:

    seriously, the wikipedia article on bananas is really well written.

  16. Greg Kuperberg Says:

    Scott, I don’t think that you should beat yourself up too much about this. (Okay I know that you aren’t really doing so, but still.) It’s really easy to make simple errors in calculation with relativity, just because the topic is a bit counterintuitive. In fact even Einstein goofed the main calculation in one of his (general) relativity papers — I think that David Bacon has the anectode somewhere on his blog.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    The turning point in Scott’s life was when he made a minor relativity gaffe in public. After that, he became a recluse. Some claim to have seen him since then tending goats in Southern France.

  18. Scott Says:

    Thanks … I needed that.

  19. Greg Kuperberg Says:

    If I may be a bit lazy about the oracle separation of BQP from SZK, I’m guessing that it actually separates BQP from CZK, but that the oracle problem is not obviously in EQP. Is that right?

  20. Perseph0ne Says:

    Not having any idea about what you’re talking about is one of the only effective ways to be sensible, really. It’s merely the very public nature of the medium that salts the burn. Lick your wounds, and speed a recovery to good sense 🙂

  21. Shtetl-Optimized » Blog Archive » Reasons to believe II: quantum edition Says:

    […] The Island-In-Theoryspace Argument. String theorists have been ridiculed for claiming that string theory is “too beautiful to be wrong.” But as Peter Woit points out in his fascinating new book, this is not at all a bad argument. It’s a fine argument; the real question is whether string theory — with its perturbation series, ten dimensions of which six are compactified for unknown reasons, landscape of vacua, etc. — really is as beautiful as its proponents think it is. At the risk of breaking my vow, let me hasten to say that I’m in no position to judge. What I do know is that there’s something mathematically unique about quantum mechanics: how it takes advantage of special properties of the L2 norm that fail for other p-norms, how the parameter-counting for mixed states that works perfectly with complex numbers fails with real numbers and quaternions, and so on. Crucially, it seems all but impossible to change quantum mechanics while retaining its nice properties. More so than general relativity or any other theory we have, quantum mechanics gives every indication of being an island in theoryspace. […]