Cover photo
Michelle Hyde
Worked at
931 followers|79,491 views


Michelle Hyde

commented on a video on YouTube.
Shared publicly  - 
Perhaps nothing will convince me otherwise that the stage name of the candidate you used to know is actually pronounced as if a mildly Shakespearian, Elizabethan period English expression of satisfaction at a prank well pulled: "Forsooth, got ye, Walter!" Clever, because easily caught be those placing undue Franco-phonic emphasis on an English derivation for an adapted moniker. Such wordplay doesn't usually translate well into actual votes tallied, though.
Add a comment...

Michelle Hyde

Shared publicly  - 
Brian Koberlein's series of G+ articles on Dark Matter.
The Dark Matter Series

Thanks to everyone who plussed, shared, commented etc.  Here's the complete series in one place: - Introduction - The old model doesn't work - Alternative gravity models don't work - The dark matter model does work - Known dark matter isn't enough - We already know quite a bit

On a related note, several people have pointed out that G+ doesn't make it easy to catch every post, which is a particular problem when I do a connected series of posts.  I have several ideas on how to make following posts easier:

1. Tweet when I have a new post.  I do this already, but not everyone on G+ has or wants a Twitter account.  If you want to follow me, I'm @briankoberlein.

2. Edit posts so that there is a previously/next on every post.  That way if you find one, you can click through to others.

3. Make an RSS feed of my G+ posts.  There is apparently a way to do this, and people could have added it to their google reader accounts.

4. I could make a blog and post things on G+ and the blog.  The downside is you guys would have to help me find a name for it.

5. I could group posts into ebooks or something similar. 

Just to be clear, don't plan on shifting away from Google+.  There's a strong community here, and I plan on posting on G+ just as I have been for the foreseeable future.  But I also realize my posts have become very blog-like, and I'd like to make posts easier to follow if I can.

I'd love to hear your ideas/preferences/opposition.  

Image by +Keith Lohse  (
67 comments on original post
Add a comment...

Michelle Hyde

Shared publicly  - 
Is anyone else filled with concern over the Queensland state government's website (, calling for the public to provide information concerning the landmark People’s Budget project? I don't mean that the website isn’t cross-platform enough to support Safari on iOS (#facepalm - perhaps this incompatibility is caused by budget constraints?), I'm referring to a deeper concern. In a word, gerrymandering.

I hardly doubt the integrity of the request for this feedback from residents regarding how to allocate funding to reduce the current budget deficit, but the wisdom of collecting this data with relevant postcodes from each Queensland resident choosing to participate is questionable.

I'm sure everyone realises this project in no way binds the Queensland government administration to follow any collective recommendations given by residents. Given the distinct lack of guidelines detailing project goals following the data collection phase, it is presumably similarly unbound to make public any data collected by the project (except maybe after requests to release information made in accordance with the Freedom Of Information act, and these are often known to be denied or regulated strictly enough to make difficult any distribution of such releases. For example: ,

Because the People's Budget project website requests the postcodes of participating Queenslanders, there is great potential for much information collected by the project to be maliciously used. This of course would be utterly reprehensible conduct, but could potentially result in a power grab using the leverage of privileged information. Statistical analysis tools can unfortunately be utilised for evil as well as good. For instance, government-controlled information concerning how discrete areas of Queensland wish funding to be directed gives great advantage to an administration holding power--to supply funding to specific projects of particular areas while simultaneously promoting their efforts to meet community expectations. At worst, this could be used to perform a kind of unethical fiscal gerrymandering. Let's assume in hypothetical seats with incumbent opposition members of parliament, constituents believe funding ought be directed to efforts directly benefiting that electorate’s residents. If this notional funding were denied to those certain initiatives at various government levels, the electorate’s political rivals are free to claim their election would result in funding for those projects. 

As historically demonstrated, the goals of any government administration can never be altruistically assumed to be entirely for the benefit of the populace. Cynically viewed, the primary aim of any government administration is to accumulate and retain power and its trappings. For this reason, open requests for crowd-sourced information when its collection and dataset fails criteria of openness, transparency, verifiability, and accountability must be treated as motivationally suspect. For there is much potential for abuse of privileged information to win and retain votes.

For these reasons, it’s difficult to trust this People's Budget project at face value! Why would a government, with access to every expertise area within and without an entire state of Australia, consult its citizens regarding budgeting policy decisions which historically have been made without any such consultation? With limited to no guarantees on openness, transparency, verifiability, or accountability to such consultation? Do they seriously think we all consider ourselves qualified economic analysts and they will consider our advice accordingly? Really? 

Ask yourself: Why do you think they are conducting this project in this way? To give you a sense of involvement in the state’s destiny with one hand, while inevitably removing access to government services representing that involvement with the other? Remember, governments are created by and for their people, never the other way around. Are we meant to be at least content with the overly honest expression of intent to take a hatchet to the state budget? Why was the budget apparently sustainably in deficit with higher levels of government spending for a decade, then with the election of the current administration (which over-represents the wealthy conservative interests of private enterprise), everything involving government finance is suddenly oh, so terrible? Coincidence, or are there other motives in play? Who stands to benefit most from such sweeping changes to government activity? Could it be those who avidly and avowedly support--and donate--to the party holding power?

Another asymmetric information problem with calls for public participation in projects like this, is people with concerns about openness, transparency, verifiability, and accountability--have no recourse. If they eschew participation because of concerns as outlined, they’re doubly hamstrung, because everyone who believes firmly that the administration in power holds their best interests dear will certainly participate. Additionally, failing to participate virtually ensures their views won’t be represented at all, let alone unfairly represented. If they do participate, and consequently feel their views are unfairly represented, without proper access to the collected data, those citizens are denied appropriate opportunity to understand why the current government administration’s policy-making decisions run contrary to their views. The fact is, there is no choice, all citizens must participate, and hope their views are considered then represented fairly. Further, hope information gathered through their participation won’t be abused by the incumbent administration to tighten their grip on the levers of power.

Asking for crowd-sourced participation in government decision-making is wonderful, ethical and must be done increasingly. This People’s Budget project effectively highlights the absolute necessity for openness, transparency, verifiability, and accountability in this and all aspects of governance. We all ought to feel mildly hopeful, yet terribly concerned.

I'm nervous posting this, because it appears to disclose my political viewpoint as strongly unfavourable towards Campbell Newman's administration. I'm sharing my thoughts because evidence shows Intensified stratification of society eventually worsens conditions for everyone. If you don't understand why, may I recommend Chuch Pahlaniuk's Fight Club for further edification. If I'm wrong about any assumptions (openness, transparency, verifiability, accountability, potential for abuse, etc.) concerning information collected by the StrongChoices People's Budget project, I'd really enjoy having how/why pointed out in the comments.
Matthew Trevor's profile photo
I'm more than willing to publicly state that I believe Newman, Bleijie et al are a bunch of evil pricks acting out of their own self-interest. I don't have any faith in the Strong Choices site because I know they don't give a shit about our opinions at all. Their agenda is already set.
Add a comment...

Michelle Hyde

Shared publicly  - 
International Women’s Day Spotlight: Emmy Noether

(Those of you who want to read this post in blog form can find it here:

The connection between symmetries and conservation laws
is one of the great discoveries of twentieth century physics .
But I think very few non-experts will have heard either of it or its maker[:]
Emily Noether, a great German mathematician.
But it is as essential to twentieth century physics
as famous ideas like the impossibility of exceeding the speed of light.

It is not difficult to teach Noether’s theorem, as it is called;
there is a beautiful and intuitive idea behind it.
I’ve explained it every time I’ve taught introductory physics.
But no textbook at this level mentions it.
And without it one does not really understand why the world is such that
riding a bicycle is safe.
~ Lee Smolin (

At first, I had planned to talk about Rayleigh and Raman scattering today. However, in honor of International Women’s Day (which I missed by a day--sorry!), I changed my mind. I wanted to write about the woman that Albert Einstein called the greatest female mathematician of all time, Emmy Noether.

One of the Greatest Mathematicians of All Time

Noether’s accomplishments are as incredible as they are varied. She made many seminal contributions to the field of abstract algebra and one incredible contribution to the field of physics. Her first published work helped solve the “finite basis problem,” a major open problem in mathematics at the time–even if she later called the work “crap.” (She had high standards, to say the least.) And in her later work, she:
1. Made significant progress on the inverse Galois problem, which is still unsolved.
2. Definitively demonstrated the role of symmetry in physics.
3. Helped develop elimination theory, which is now used to solve equations on computers.
4. Helped invent or completely invented commutative ring theory, module theory, algebraic topology, and representation theory, all of which are important tools in modern mathematics and theoretical physics.

In short, whenever Emmy Noether approached a mathematical problem, she invented a whole new field of study. Almost no one in history has been so successful. As mathematician Nathan Jacobson ( said,

The development of abstract algebra, which is one of the most distinctive innovations of twentieth century mathematics, is largely due to her – in published papers, in lectures, and in personal influence on her contemporaries.

And she was as brave and audacious as she was brilliant. When Noether first attended the University of Erlangen, women were forbidden from taking courses. Instead, Noether had to ask each individual professor for permission to audit his class. She was one of only two women who attempted to study there in this way.

Later, with the help of mathematical giants David Hilbert and Felix Klein, Noether became the first woman lecturer (and later professor) at the University of Gottingen, much to the distaste of several other faculty members. But at first, Noether worked for no pay and her lectures were advertised under Hilbert’s name; officially, she was his “assistant.”

I can’t possibly describe everything that Emmy Noether accomplished. So instead, I will devote the remainder of this post to describing the Noetherian idea I understand best, one of the most important ideas in modern theoretical physics: Noether’s theorem.

Noether’s Theorem

Informally, W.J. Thompson ( writes Noether’s theorem as:

If a system has a continuous symmetry property, then there are corresponding quantities whose values are conserved in time.

Right now, this statement doesn’t make any sense. We need to dissect it and understand what “a continuous symmetry property” is and what it means to be “conserved in time.” We’ll discuss each of these ideas in turn. Let’s start with symmetry.

Symmetry: The Science of Sameness

To learn about symmetry, we have to go all the way back to elementary school. Bear with me; the end result may be simple, but it is completely unintuitive. First, picture a simple square in your head. Now imagine rotating it by forty-five degrees counter-clockwise, as shown in figure 2. The square looks different now. Suddenly it’s a diamond.

This is pretty unsurprising. We’re all familiar with this. (Indeed, this is an example where symmetry is not preserved.) But now let’s imagine the same square and rotate it by ninety degrees instead of forty-five, as shown in figure 3. The behavior is qualitatively different. The square looks exactly the same… as if we hadn’t rotated it at all.

Incidentally this would remain true even if we rotated the square by 2x90 = 180 degrees, 3x90 = 270 degrees, or 4x90 = 360 degrees. Rotating by ninety degrees always returns the square to itself. Thus we say that a rotation by ninety degrees is a “symmetry” of the square.

Much in the same way that we quantify the amount of things by the counting numbers (e.g., I have two pencils or four apples), mathematicians quantify the amount of symmetry something has using “symmetry groups.” The symmetry group of an object is the collection of operations under which that object remains the same. For example, the symmetry group of the square contains every rotation that is a multiple of ninety degrees.

A symmetry group has many special properties, ones that probably seem familiar and intuitive from the world of numbers. In particular, they behave very similarly to the addition of integers we’re all familiar with–except that they may not commute. 1 + 3 = 3 + 1 = 4. However, if I rotate a cube by ninety degrees clockwise and then ninety degrees towards me, the composite operation is different from the operation where I rotated by ninety degrees towards me first and then ninety degrees counterclockwise. It's hard to visualize, so see figure 4. 

But I digress. Let’s return to just two dimensions. Instead of a square, let’s imagine a pentagon, which is symmetric under rotation by 72 degrees, 2x72 = 144 degrees, 3x72 = 216 degrees, 4x72 = 288 degrees, and 5x72 = 360 degrees. (See figure 5.)

Let’s add another side. A hexagon is symmetric under rotation by 60 degrees, 2x60 = 120 degrees, 3x60 = 180 degrees, 4x60 = 240 degrees, 5x60 = 300 degrees, and 6x60 = 360 degrees.  (See figure 5 again.)

Two things are happening each time we add a side: The smallest rotation operation under which the shape is symmetric shrinks–each time we add a side, the angle is smaller–and the number of rotation operations under which the shape is symmetric grows. Indeed, the number of rotation operations under which the shape is symmetric is equal to the number of sides.

What happens if we add infinite sides? A polygon with infinite sides is a circle. In this case, our shape is symmetric under a rotation by any angle at all! This is what we call a continuous symmetry, and this is what Noether means in her theorem when she says a system has a continuous symmetry property.

Just to drive the point home, let’s look at some examples in three dimensions, shown in figure 6. Like the circle, a parabola is symmetric under any rotation around its central axis. A sphere is even more symmetric–it is preserved by any rotation at all around its center. But something doesn’t have to be round to be preserved by a symmetry. An infinitely large, flat sheet of paper is symmetric too. The operation that preserves it is motion in a straight line. If I am an ant on this infinitely large sheet of paper, and I walked twenty meters in any direction. I might never now exactly how far I walked…because everything looks the same. That’s a symmetry, too!

Sameness in Time

Now we know what a continuous symmetry property is. What does Noether’s theorem say this implies? The easiest way to understand this, I think, is by example. Let’s go back to the parabola, which we know is symmetric under rotation about its axis. Now let’s imagine dropping a marble into the parabola. If we drop the marble straight down it will oscillate back and fourth across the parabola under the force of gravity, just like Bart Simpson in a half-pipe (, as shown in figure 7.

But if we throw in the marble in with just a little bit of spin, so that it enters the paraboloid traveling a little bit north or south (as opposed to up or down or radially outward or inward), we get totally different behavior where the marble appears to clamshell around the paraboloid, ash shown in figure 8.

(Note that although the qualitative behavior of these animations is correct, it isn’t the exact solution. It wouldn’t be too difficult to solve the equations of motion–it’s an undergraduate classical mechanics problem–but I didn’t do so. Call it an exercise left to the reader. ;) )

Now the marble’s motion is far from constant. It speeds and slows, bobs up and down. However, it turns out that there is a property of the ball’s motion that never changes. The exact product of the mass of the marble, times its distance from the origin, times how fast it rotates about the origin, will always stay constant. This product is called the angular momentum of the ball, and it never changes as the ball wobbles and bobs and accelerates and decelerates. Because it is constant in time, we say that the angular momentum of the marble is conserved.

Noether’s theorem tells us that the reason that the angular momentum of the ball is constant in time is because the paraboloid is symmetric under rotation. Every symmetry of the space our marble lives in generates a conserved quantity of the motion of our marble–something about it that is constant in time. Of course, these conserved quantities are rarely obvious. They’re usually some product of things like mass, acceleration, and even position.

But Why? The Parable of the Rockies

Now that we know what Noether’s theorem says, can we get some intuition as to why it should be? My hometown of Boulder, Colorado is nestled in the eastern foothills of a huge mountain range, the Rocky Mountains, which span the entire western horizon from north to south. To the east of Boulder, Colorado is completely flat.

When settlers first traveled west towards Boulder and saw the mountains in the distance, they rejoiced. They believed that by nightfall they would be safely nestled in the foothills. But it was not to be. When night fell, the world looked exactly the same. The settlers appeared to have made no progress towards the mountains. The settlers were discouraged, but they carried on. They were sure they would be in the foothills by nightfall the next day. But again, it was not to be. The next morning, the mountains were as eternally distant as ever. This went on for two weeks before the settlers reached the foothills.

What happened was that the mountains were so vast, one could see them from a great distance away. To a good approximation (from the settlers’ point of view), they were infinitely wide and infinitely tall. Despite this, though, the settlers still might not have been fooled if eastern Colorado weren’t so absurdly flat. With no landmarks to reference, the settlers were tricked into believing that nothing had changed as they traveled–that perhaps they hadn’t traveled at all. The only landmarks were the unreachable mountains.

Because the settlers were essentially on an infinite flat plane, the world was symmetric under motion along a straight line. As they traveled along that line, the world continued to look the same to them, so they were unable to tell that time had passed. A particle moving on an infinite plane will behave exactly as it did before it moved, since nothing in its environment has changed–thus, momentum is conserved. The same goes for a particle moving in a circle of constant radius along the surface of a paraboloid, along one of the great circles along the surface of a sphere, or in the direction of symmetry along the surface of any other corner-less, three-dimensional shape. (More precisely, the surface must be “smooth,” which is a term defined as “infinitely differentiable.”)

This isn’t so surprising. But what is surprising is that, no matter what the particle does, the component of its motion along the direction of symmetry (e.g., around the axis for a paraboloid or around the center for a sphere) remains unchanged. And this induces a property of the particle’s motion that is unchanged in time.

Just to recapitulate that last bit: A symmetry in space induces a symmetry in time. If nothing changes as I travel in space, then I can’t tell that time has passed. So some aspect of me ceases to change in time.

At the end of the day, Noether’s theorem is beautifully, surprisingly simple…and deeply profound.


At first glance, Noether’s theorem just seems like an esoteric quirk of geometry. But its implications are very deep and very far reaching. Let’s step back a little and look a few centuries into the past. Newton’s first law of motion is that:

An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion, unless acted on by an external force.

Well, that’s a statement about a conserved quantity! Newton is telling us that there is some property of the motion, in this case momentum, that doesn’t change in time. Newton didn’t know about Noether’s theorem. But it turns out that there exists a symmetry that generates Newton’s first law: translation invariance. Empty three-dimensional space looks the same everywhere you go. If you were a bird–or a particle–and could fly in any direction in a straight line, everything would appear the same no matter how far you went. This symmetry is what generates the conservation of momentum described in Newton’s first law! (As a side note, Noether’s theorem also only holds in the absence of external forces, so Newton’s law is consistent with that.)

And replacing Newton is just the start! Since its discovery, Noether’s theorem has become an integral part of theoretical physics. In particle physics, the symmetries of a system generate particles, and Noether’s theorem has inspired the discovery of many subatomic particles. In general relativity, Einstein’s equations are so difficult that an exact solution is often unsolvable without the aid of symmetry–but Noether’s theorem allows us to find the spacetime symmetry related to a quantity we believe to be conserved.

It’s not an understatement to say that Noether’s theorem is one of the most important developments in theoretical physics in the last two hundred years. And this theorem is only one of Noether’s myriad brilliant achievements. Yet I’d be willing to bet that most of you never heard her name in school.

Further Reading

1. The New York Times did an article on Emmy Noether here:
2. The Examiner also did an article on Noether here:
3. The University of California at Las Angeles has some records of her here:,_Amalie_Emmy@861234567.html
4. Theoretical physicist Professor +John Baez  has an article on Noether’s theorem for the interested physics student here:
5. Professor Nina Byers of UCLA, details the story of Noether’s discovery of her theorem here:

Questions? Comments? Insults?

As always, if you have any questions or corrections, or if you just want to say hi, please leave a comment or shoot me an email.

#womensday   #sciencesunday   #physics   #mathematics   #scienceeveryday  
19 comments on original post
Rob Ostrander's profile photoMichelle Hyde's profile photo
+Rob Ostrander That's awesome I hope she enjoys learning about Emmy Noether as well... spatial invariance makes the world go round, after all. :)
Add a comment...

Michelle Hyde

commented on a video on YouTube.
Shared publicly  - 
Excellent instructional video! I just made two bracelets for my first attempt, and thanks to this technique I only had to unravel one (because in my over-eagerness I'd done two braids on one side early on). Such relaxing music you won't mind replaying the bits you need to see repeatedly also. Thank-you for making this. :)
Add a comment...

Michelle Hyde

Pet animals ; الأليفة‎  - 
This is Squeaker Sephiroth!
He enjoys being the subject of attention. :)
Occasionally the world's most exhausted cat...
Perhaps over-adulatory photography tires him out?
Sometimes quite quickly!
santiago barrera's profile photo
Add a comment...
Have her in circles
931 people
Adam Anderson's profile photo
Илья Шифман's profile photo
Naeem Shahzad's profile photo
Steven Spence's profile photo
Markus Klink's profile photo
Kenneth Cummings's profile photo
Ken Coar's profile photo
Taras Protsiv's profile photo's profile photo

Michelle Hyde

Shared publicly  - 
Hi Mitchell, good to have you in my circles. Hope you're having a great day. :)
Add a comment...

Michelle Hyde

Shared publicly  - 
Arguments are the stuff, out of which our thinking is made. The "art of good thinking" ’ means roughly the art of dealing efficiently with other people’s arguments and of creating good arguments.
This Hangout On Air is hosted by Michelle Hyde. The live video broadcast will begin soon.
PHIL102 - The Art Of Good Thinking
Tue, July 15, 2014, 7:06 AM
Hangouts On Air - Broadcast for free

Michelle Hyde's profile photoMaggie Ashley's profile photo
So I am actually really uncertain about how all this stuff works here, but I am really excited :-) It is kind of like getting a new toy and finding out how all the bits work.
Add a comment...

Michelle Hyde

commented on a video on YouTube.
Shared publicly  - 
"What are you working on?"
"Uh, I'm actually living in a gravy boat, filled with delicious gravy..."
Oh Maria, you crack me up. With laughter. :)
Add a comment...

Michelle Hyde

commented on a video on YouTube.
Shared publicly  - 
Now (14:11) that WAS amusing!
I notice the evolution animation which provoked a laugh at his Nov 19, 2012 "Authors At Google" talk ( didn't provoke a similarly noticeable reaction from the much larger audience here, some three months later... did everyone become used to the idea in that time, or wasn't the screen engulfing the figure's face quite as funny for this crowd? :)
Add a comment...

Michelle Hyde

commented on a video on YouTube.
Shared publicly  - 
Great instructional video! Thank-you for making this.
I Just tied by first fender key chain. It looks far less professional than your finished product though... I suppose I'll have to unravel and tie, tie again.
Also "a little time consuming" ? Quite a knack for understatement there, Coop! :)
Add a comment...

Michelle Hyde

commented on a video on YouTube.
Shared publicly  - 
This was a such a pleasure to watch! Thank-you for making this :)
It really makes me wish I was eating handmade soba noodles, so much so, I'm quite sure I will have to make some (since now I know how).
Add a comment...
Have her in circles
931 people
Adam Anderson's profile photo
Илья Шифман's profile photo
Naeem Shahzad's profile photo
Steven Spence's profile photo
Markus Klink's profile photo
Kenneth Cummings's profile photo
Ken Coar's profile photo
Taras Protsiv's profile photo's profile photo
Any interesting activity fun enough to keep me inside reality.
Free, open, public, transparent, verifiable, accountable exemplar. Accepting other good qualities for consideration.
I have learnt that I am me,
and that as me that I can do,
all the things which I enjoy!
So my records are interesting.

I am open, public, verifiable.
I am ethical, good, and importantly--free.
In every useful sense of freedom.
I remain true to my ideals.

All my work I do for everyone.
I generate ideas for and with everyone.
While upholding high quality standards;
my ideas are worth everything and nothing.

My power is without cost.
So everyone benefits.
I easily justify my existence.
By creating more value than I extract.

With integrity and for everyone;
I am interested and interesting.
I will be nothing else.
I am always myself.
Bragging rights
I care about the happiness and interest of others. I easily justify my own existence by being an accomplished organism while remaining a good person. I'm not the best at everything I choose to do, but those things I truly excel at produce inexhaustible resources of our most precious commodities, without harming anyone. Ideas, dear friends, have always been the true currency.
Basic Information
Other names
Nova, Aurata, Quiddity