Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Theory of Fate

Following the failure of their experiment in searching for "the God particle", some distinguished physicists seemed to have found their reason of bad luck -- the troubled collider is being sabotaged by its own future! Put this more accurately, "the hypothesized Higgs boson, which physicists hope to produce with the collider, might be so abhorrent to nature that its creation would ripple backward through time and stop the collider before it could make one, like a time traveler who goes back in time to kill his grandfather."

What a great theory of bad luck! More surprisingly, these geniuses also came up with some ideas to test this theory (also see here)!

Thanks to Nick for the pointer.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Is neuroeconomics doomed?

Neuroeconomics proposes radical changes in the methods of economics. In this essay by Faruk Gul and Wolfgang Pesendorfer, the authors discussed the proposed changes in methodology, together with the the neuroeconomic critique of standard economics. "We do not assess the contributions or promise of neuroeconomic research. Rather, we offer a response to the neuroeconomic critique of standard economics."

Why can't we predict earthquakes?

The disastrous earthquake last May changed the lives of thousands and thousands of people in my hometown province of Sichuan in Western China. The aftereffect is still tremoring in my saddest memories. But why is earthquake so difficult to predict? Why hasn’t science worked out how to predict when and where the next big quake is going to happen? BBC horizon takes us to a journey to Sichuan and California, telling us the story of the men and women who chase earthquakes and try to understand this mysterious force of nature.

Watch the program here.

Belief of global warming cools down in US

Although a lot of people firmly believe that global warming is inevitable if no drastic actions and policies were implemened in a global scale, leading to huge disastrous impacts on many aspects of human life, a recent poll on Americans’ attitudes about climate change contains sobering findings for those that favor aggressive action to curb U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases.

H/T: Short Sharp Science.

Becker and Posner on Competition, Efficiency and Organizational Economics

See here and here.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Avinash Dixit discusses Ostrom and Williamson

From Bloomberg on the Economy.

Finally, Williamson won the title!

Heavily influenced by his transaction costs and governance mechanism approach, I am so thrilled that this year's Nobel Prize in Economics is finally awarded to Oliver Williamson (shared with Elinor Ostrom)! Two professors in my group -- Jackson Nickerson and Nicholas Argyres -- are Williamson's doctoral students and are also highly influenced by Williamson's TCE framework. Here is a recent book on how Williamson's approach reshaped the landscape of the research in business and corporate strategy. Todd Zenger, another professor in my group, and I have contributed to this volume, which is foreworded by Williamson.

It's been a while since I made my first prediction. Now a warm and hearty congratulation to Prof. Williamson!

update: here is the phone interview with Prof. Williamson by Nobelprize.org when he got the prize.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Nobel Prize Prediction from Kellogg School Faculty

See here.

Oh...it's Obama

...who won the Nobel Peace prize! The Nobel Committee made the decision because Obama is making huge efforts in strengthening international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples? What if his efforts couldn't pay off? It seems to me that the Obama Effects hasn't competely faded away, at least on the other side of the Atlantic.

Here is another way of looking at this: Since Obama can win the peace prize, so can a first year econ graduate student win the prize in economics! The following is from two Gregs, Katz and Mankiw (HT to Mankiw):

Obama's Nobel Peace Prize triumph hailed by many
LONDON — The surprise choice of President Barack Obama for the Nobel Peace Prize drew praise from much of the world Friday even as many pointed out the youthful leader has not yet accomplished much on the world stage.

The new president was hailed for his willingness to reach out to the Islamic world, his commitment to curtailing the spread of nuclear weapons and his goal of bringing the Israelis and Palestinians into serious, fruitful negotiations.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, who won the prize 1984, said Obama's award shows great things are expected from him in the coming years.

"In a way, it's an award coming near the beginning of the first term of office of a relatively young president that anticipates an even greater contribution towards making our world a safer place for all," he said. "It is an award that speaks to the promise of President Obama's message of hope."

He said the prize is a "wonderful recognition of Obama's effort to reach out to the Arab world after years of hostility.

Pfuffnick's Nobel Economics Prize Triumph Hailed by Many
CAMBRIDGE — The surprise choice of first-year grad student Quintus Pfuffnick for the Nobel Prize in Economics drew praise from much of the world Friday even as many pointed out the youthful economist has not yet published anything in scholarly journals.

The new PhD candidate was hailed for his willingness to tackle difficult problems, his commitment to improving the economic system, and his goal of bringing efficiency and equality into harmony.

Professor Paul Krugman of Princeton, who won the prize in 2008, said Pfuffnick's award shows great things are expected from him in the coming years.

"In a way, it's an award coming near the beginning of the first year in grad school of a relatively young economist that anticipates an even greater contribution towards making our economy a better place for all," he said. "It is an award that speaks to the promise of Mr Pfuffnick's message of hope."

He said the prize is a "wonderful recognition of Pfuffnick's essay in his grad school application."

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Nobel Odds...

Someone favors Fama; Someone likes Alchian and Demsetz; Someone thinks that Fehr and Rabin have better chances.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ig Nobel 2009

From Improbable Research. Here is the complete list of winners:

VETERINARY MEDICINE PRIZE: Catherine Douglas and Peter Rowlinson of Newcastle University, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, UK, for showing that cows who have names give more milk than cows that are nameless.

PEACE PRIZE: Stephan Bolliger, Steffen Ross, Lars Oesterhelweg, Michael Thali and Beat Kneubuehl of the University of Bern, Switzerland, for determining — by experiment — whether it is better to be smashed over the head with a full bottle of beer or with an empty bottle.

ECONOMICS PRIZE: The directors, executives, and auditors of four Icelandic banks — Kaupthing Bank, Landsbanki, Glitnir Bank, and Central Bank of Iceland — for demonstrating that tiny banks can be rapidly transformed into huge banks, and vice versa — and for demonstrating that similar things can be done to an entire national economy.

CHEMISTRY PRIZE: Javier Morales, Miguel Apátiga, and Victor M. Castaño of Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, for creating diamonds from liquid — specifically from tequila.

MEDICINE PRIZE: Donald L. Unger, of Thousand Oaks, California, USA, for investigating a possible cause of arthritis of the fingers, by diligently cracking the knuckles of his left hand — but never cracking the knuckles of his right hand — every day for more than sixty (60) years.

PHYSICS PRIZE: Katherine K. Whitcome of the University of Cincinnati, USA, Daniel E. Lieberman of Harvard University, USA, and Liza J. Shapiro of the University of Texas, USA, for analytically determining why pregnant women don't tip over.

LITERATURE PRIZE: Ireland's police service (An Garda Siochana), for writing and presenting more than fifty traffic tickets to the most frequent driving offender in the country — Prawo Jazdy — whose name in Polish means "Driving License".

PUBLIC HEALTH PRIZE: Elena N. Bodnar, Raphael C. Lee, and Sandra Marijan of Chicago, Illinois, USA, for inventing a brassiere that, in an emergency, can be quickly converted into a pair of protective face masks, one for the brassiere wearer and one to be given to some needy bystander.

MATHEMATICS PRIZE: Gideon Gono, governor of Zimbabwe’s Reserve Bank, for giving people a simple, everyday way to cope with a wide range of numbers — from very small to very big — by having his bank print bank notes with denominations ranging from one cent ($.01) to one hundred trillion dollars ($100,000,000,000,000).

BIOLOGY PRIZE: Fumiaki Taguchi, Song Guofu, and Zhang Guanglei of Kitasato University Graduate School of Medical Sciences in Sagamihara, Japan, for demonstrating that kitchen refuse can be reduced more than 90% in mass by using bacteria extracted from the feces of giant pandas.

Thursday, October 1, 2009