Comment by Yonge on D&D.Sci Pathfinder: Return of the Gray Swan Evaluation & Ruleset · 2021-09-09T22:07:26.915Z · LW · GW

This was my favourite dand sci problem so far, and I would have spent longer looking at it if it hadn't coincided with a period when I had less free time than usual.

The one niggle I had with this is that the data wasn't in the most user friendly format, and a significant fraction of the time I spent on this was used munging the data into a more useable format. Maybe a useful exercise for problems of this complexity would be for the author to attempt to solve it using just the given data, and adjust it accordingly?

Making every problem this complex feels like it would be taking things too far, but I would like the occasional one like it.

Comment by Yonge on D&D.Sci Pathfinder: Return of the Gray Swan · 2021-09-05T07:28:07.281Z · LW · GW

 Thank you for posting this.

My initial observations are as follows:


I couldn't find much just by looking at the data.
Roughly 90 percent of all type of ship survive their voyage.
Survival rate for different purposes varies between 84 and 92 percent doesn't seem partcularly significant
Looking at the survival rates for different combinations of ships and purposes revelas some anomalously low values Carrack carrying redstones only 79%. Dhow and Mythrill 71% are the standouts. Might be a statistical fluctuation, and as we don't know what we're carrying it doesn't help much
Ships that sail only one week after their last voyage have a noticeably lower survival rate (74%), otherwise it doesn't appear to have much effect. So provisionally ignore all possible ships that sailed one week ago.
Voyages of length 10 or less have approximately the same survival rate of 90 percent, but this falls to 79% and 76% for voyages of length 13 and 14 respectively.

There are 19 encounters that did not take place on the planned route, and one of them occurred on land. This is a small fraction of the total, and they all occurred close to the route suggesting the planned route is reasonably reliable.
iceberg encounters are concentrated in the N part of the map, and are more prevelant during the N hemisphere winter.
Kraken encounters seem to be restricted to a small number of tiles which tend to come in clusters, they are slightly more active during the summer. 
Reef encounters seem to be restricted to a small number of tiles which tend to come in clusters. 
Merfolk seem to be restricted to a few moderatly big clusters
Wyrd Majick Fyre is centered on a cluster around J8, with a few random encounters elsewhere. Given the small number there is no reason to think these tiles are any more likely to suffer an encounter from it than any other.

Finding paths which yield the minimum expected damage (defined as all damage done in known encounters on route + 100/hexes on route for all planned routes that went through it but got destroyed yields the following)
Best path to first destination(L13) is:
(1) Q6 P7 P8 P9 P10 O11 N11 N12 M13 L13 
Best path to second destination(E8) is
(2)Q6 P6 O6 N6 M5 L5 K5 K6 J6 I6 H7 H8 G8 F8 E8 
Restricting it just to voyages leaving in June leads to::
Best path to first destination(L13) is
(3) Q6 P6 O6 N6 M7 M8 L8 K9 K10 K11 L12 L13 
Best path to second destination(E8) is
(4) Q6 P6 O6 N6 M5 L5 K5 K6 J6 I6 H5 G5 G6 F7 F8 E8
The slightly more northerly route in (4) is possibly because icebergs are less prevalent at that time of year, and they are concentrated in the northern part of the map, however there is no data at the end of the route, and Kraken have been seen in these hexes at other times, and they are more active than normal at this time of year, however the southern route also goes through Kraken infested waters.
Assigning double the weight to destroyed ships (and counting all voyages) yielded route Q6 P6 O6 N6 M7 M8 L9 L10 K11 L12 L13 and route (2) again. So this looks reasonably robust against changes to this weighting.
  For the captains choosing those that have survived more voyages than any other seemed like a reasonable first guess, however looking at the data suggests that the same name can be given to > one captain e.g Seamus Reagans voyages occur in 2 widely separated groups. So instead we need to look at the ships, which can hopefully be uniquely identified by their ids. Ships are generally commanded by the same captain. The 2 ships that have survived the most voyages are the Orange Falcon followed by the Mopey Diamond.
So my provisional answer (Which may be changed if I get time to look into this further) is:
Send The Mopey Diamond, a Carrack captained by Conall MacDougal by route Q6 P6 O6 N6 M5 L5 K5 K6 J6 I6 H7 H8 G9 G10 F10 E9 E8
Send The Orange Falcon, a Galleon captained by Brandon Buchanan by route  Q6 P7 P8 P9 P10 O11 N11 N12 M13 L13

Comment by Yonge on D&D.Sci August 2021: The Oracle and the Monk · 2021-08-17T16:30:42.196Z · LW · GW


Solar - Appears to operate on approximately a 27 day cycle which suggests it's value should be around 50 on day 384. However this has risen to anomalously high values recently (The supernova being a star may be the cause), so there is a risk it may not behave as predicted in the immediate future.
 Lunar - Seems to go through a pattern of relative highs and lows that repeat every 27-28 days, probably not coincentally the same as the orbital period of the moon. On day 356-357 lunar was at a relatively high value of 46 - 39, so this looks like a good prospect. 
 Ocean - Can be very strong, but also very weak at times with no obvious pattern.
 Breeze -  Has never been more than 20 or less than 6. This is unlikely to be good enough.
 Flame - Can be anywhere between 11 and 41 with no obvious pattern
 Ash - Is consistently <= 10 , so should probably be avoided
 Earth - Another one that can easily be very high or low with no obvious pattern.
 Void - Highly erratic osscillations between 17 and 30,
 Doom - The qualitative pattern seems to repeat itself once every 8 days, suggesting it's value on day 384
        will be about 30.
 Spite - Is 0 about half the time. It takes on a high value regularly once every 28 days though. The last time
            this happened was on day 369 which is no good for us. On other days it is either 0 or a relatively low
            value, so this is one to avoid.
  Looking at the ones that seem reasonably predictable Solar + Lunar should yield over 90 so this should be a good prospect, providing the supernova doesn't unexpectedly disrupt things.
  Lunar + Doom is another possibility, however unless the supernove disrupts things it has a lower expected value.

 On balance I think Solar + Lunar looks like the best bet.

Comment by Yonge on D&D.Sci(-Fi) June 2021: The Duel with Earwax · 2021-06-25T07:37:50.709Z · LW · GW


Spolier protection

Where we have access to data for Maria for all resonances the amplitude that would have been produce is roughlyn in the same ballpark except for the gamma resonance which is highly variable and is  not obviously correlated to anything. The ordering is:

- delta
- alpha
- beta
- zeta ( except for a few where zeta generated 0)
- epsilon

- eta is a little erratic, sometimes above beta, sometimes below zeta, othertimes in between.

Which would suggest that delta should be used, except this pattern clearly doesn't hold for all the other pilots, so assumming the data for one pilot will help us work out what wuld be best for another pilot to use looks dubious.


Janelle has consistently generated higher amplitudes than the other candidates.
With the gamma resonance she generates > 3.2K 3/36 time with a number of other close calls (7 > 3.15 11 > 3)
With the beta resonance she generates > 3.2K 2/96 times (Though a number of others were close 4 > 3.15 10 > 3)
With the zeta resonance she generated > 3.2K 2/36
She has never generated > 3.2K with any of the others.

 All the other candidates except Will do best with the alpha resonance, though there is nothing to suggest any of them are likely to generate > 3.2K regardless of which resonance they use.

So Janelle is going to have to try her luck with the gamma resonance and good luck to her, she'll need it.

Comment by Yonge on A.D&D.Sci May 2021: Interdimensional Monster Carcass Auction · 2021-05-24T06:53:52.191Z · LW · GW

My first thought was that if I'm bidding against different versions of me then we should all co-operate and bid at most 1sp in order to maximise our profits. However we would most likely be up against NPC who won't do this which wrecks this strategy. In the absence of any indicateion of how the NPC and other bidders would bid I generated a random price between 0.9* average price and 0.9* minimum price, and then manually adjusted a couple that didn't  look right which resulted in the following bids:

Lot 1 Red Dragon 1 days since killed       73sp
Lot 2 Jungle Mammoth 1 days since killed     35sp
Lot 3 Mild Boar 5 days since killed        14sp
Lot 4 Jungle Mammoth 5 days since killed     22sp
Lot 5 Mild Boar 1 days since killed        14sp   
Lot 6 Green Dragon 2 days since killed      63sp
Lot 7 Mild Boar 2 days since killed        16sp
Lot 8 Mild Boar 5 days since killed        7sp
Lot 9 Mild Boar 8 days since killed        5sp
Lot 10 Mild Boar 6 days since killed       10sp
Lot 11 Mild Boar 8 days since killed       2sp
Lot 12 Blue Dragon 8 days since killed      18sp
Lot 13 Jewel Beetle 1 days since killed      4sp
Lot 14 Mild Boar 1 days since killed       14sp 
Lot 15 Jungle Mammoth 4 days since killed     29sp
Lot 16 Jungle Mammoth 2 days since killed     29sp
Lot 17 Mild Boar 5 days since killed       10sp
Lot 18 Red Dragon 6 days since killed       44sp
Lot 19 Mild Boar 5 days since killed       14sp
Lot 20 Jungle Mammoth 1 days since killed     34sp

Comment by Yonge on D&D.Sci May 2021: Monster Carcass Auction · 2021-05-13T18:02:39.045Z · LW · GW

Spoiler protection.

Long term pattern of prices falling with time since killed for all monsters.
Yeti are consistently the cheapest. Winter Wolfs start of as the most expensive, but as time since killed 
increases the Snow Serpent becomes roughly equal.
Yeti have yielded the highest profit with Snow Wolf the highest losses.

From the description it looks like the winning bid and profit should be independent.
For each lot find similar lots in the past. From the ones Carver didn't win we can estimate the probability of winning for each possible bid, and from the ones she did win we can estimate the amount of money to be made by selling it. For each lot we can then look for the bif which maximises P(Winning)*Estimated profit.

Yeti 0 days since killed. All other winning bids at 55. 56 Should win with an estimated 18 profit.
Snow Serpent 2 days since killed. All other bids were at 20. 21 should win with estimated 5 profit.
Snow Serpent 1 day since killed. All other bids were at 40. 41 should win with UNKNOWN profit.
Winter Wolf 1 day since killed. All other bids were at 38. 39 should win with estimated -2 profit.
Yeti 5 days since killed. Other bids between 30-33. 34 should win with estimated 24 profit,  but there are only 4 other winners, so the risk of losing unless we bid more seem realistic, but that probably won't offset the risk of losing if we win.
Winter Wolf 1 day since killed. All other bids were at 38. 29 should win with estimated -2 profit.
Snow Serpent 1 day since killed. All other bids were at 40. 41 should win with unknown profit.
Snow serpent 5 days since killed. Other bids 10-16. 17 should win with estimated 10 profit, but only 6 cases where other bidders won. Winter wolf 3 days since killed. Carver won all of these by bidding between 24 and 38 average selling price was 33.
Winter Wolf 7 days since killed. Other bids between 20 - 23. Bidding 24 generates an estimated 1 profit.
Winter Wolf 8 days since killed. Other bids at  20-23. 24 Wins at estimated -3 profit.
Snow Serpent 8 days since killed. Other bids between 12 and 17. 18 wins with an estimated profit of 9.
Winter Wolf 2 days since killed. No non Carver winners. Craver bid between 27 and 41 with an average selling price of 34.
For the cases where there are no non Carver winners it seems reasonable to enter the lowest bid. There are a number of cases where the best non Carver bid is constant, so there is a realistic chance that dropping the bid will guarantee that we don't win. Whilst there are only a few at the lowest bid it looks like increasing the bid will reduce the expected profits more than can be expected to be gained by increasing the odds of winning.
For the cases where the profit is unknown. Looking at the other data the selling price only seems to drop
by a few sp per day. This suggests that we probably can't make a profit on the Snow Serpent unless we submit a low bid and get very lucky. Guess and knock a modertae value (10sp) off the average bid
Where the expect profit is < 0 put in a cheeky low bid just on the off chance we can pick one up cheap.
Do this at one below the lowest selling price where there are a reasonable number, otherwise guess and knock 10sp off.
So we have:
lot 1 Yeti 0 days since killed - 56sp
lot 2 Snow Serpent 2 days since killed - 21 sp
lot 3 Snow Serpent 1 day since killed - 30sp
lot 4 Winter Wolf 1 day since killed  - 29sp
lot 5 Yeti 5 days since killed - 34sp
lot 6 Winter Wolf 1 day since killed - 29sp
lot 7 Snow Serpent 1 day since killed - 30sp
lot 8 Snow Seppent 5 days since killed - 17sp
lot 9 Winter Wolf 3 days since killed - 24sp
lot 10 Winter Wolf 7 days since killed - 24sp
lot 11 Winter Wolf 8 days since killed - 11sp
lot 12 Snow Serpent 8 days since killed - 18sp
lot 13 Winter Wolf 2 days since killed - 27sp
350sp in total so we don't have to worry about losing later lots because we spent too much earlier.

Comment by Yonge on D&D.Sci April 2021: Voyages of the Gray Swan · 2021-04-14T16:34:19.058Z · LW · GW

Spoiler protection

Known harpy, kraken, merpeople, and shark attacks seem to be on a gentle rising trend.



Known pirate attacks fall substantially from 1401 onwards, but are still the most common. Despite this the year and month doesn't appear to have much impact on losses, and there is no obvious correlation between the month and the frequency of a given attack.

The direction doesn't appear to have much impact either.

Looking at how the damage is distributed across known encounters

- Harpy peaks at around 10-15 then falls away, none have done more than 23

- Kraken peaks at around 55 then falls away, none have done more than 78

- Pirates peaks around 15-20, and falls away, none have done more than 64

- Sharks peaks at around 20 -25 then falls away, none have done more than 56

- water elemental is strongly peaked around 80, but falls away rapidly, none have done more than 85

Suggests the only serious threats are:

- crabmonsters

- demon whale

- merpeople

- nessie



All of these peaked below 100 percent damage with 1 exception the demon whale, which suggests this is the biggest threat. With this in mind I should definitely invest in all 20 oars for 20 gp.


Nessie is responsible the causing the second highest number of incidents with very heavy damage, so investing another 30gp in cannons looks sensible.


Merpeople are the next biggest threat, but bribing them could make matters worse if it leads to more dangerous encounters. There were 2678 known merpeople encounters. If we assume they are spread evenly across the other 8 encounter types that means at least 334 demon whale attacks. Looking at the distribution of damage caused by the demon whale attacks it looks like the peak is likely to be well over 100 percent damage, and they represent a very real threat even with all the extra oars. It is not at all clear if this would represent a net reduction in risk, and when I consider that the high cost would prevent me investing in crabmonster defenses the benefits of this look dubious.


The crabmonsters are the only other encounter that do a large amount of damage, so arming the carpenters for 20gp looks sensible.


For the remaining 35 gp investing money to reduce a minute risk to my life and impressing the admiralty with less damage done to the ship seems a lot more attractive than minutely increasing the risk to my life and impressing them with saving money. Of the lesser threats the water elementals do the most damage, so if any of them are going to get me it is most likely to be them, so I will invest the last of the gold in the foam swords.


Final decision:

- 20 oars @ 20gp

- 3 cannons @ 30gp

- Arm the carpenters @ 20gp

- Foam swords for the deck crew @ 15gp

- 15 gp under budget

Comment by Yonge on D&D.Sci III Evaluation and Ruleset · 2021-03-09T21:48:31.924Z · LW · GW

Thank you for organising this.

I think a week is a good length for them to last. 3 days felt a little rushed.

Comment by Yonge on D&D.Sci III: Mancer Matchups · 2021-03-07T17:31:25.274Z · LW · GW

Spoiler protection

 So you foolish mortals, you don't trust me enough to give your true names,
  your worried that I might talk you out of your soul if you allow me to talk to you,
  and you feel the need to put in place precautions to stop me sending you anything other than your marching
  orders. Despite this you do apparently trust me to take an important decision for you. If everything is
  as it appears this set of mortals is even more stupid than the usual lot.
  Looking at the the list it start of with the necromancers attacking the geomancers.
  The the pyromancers intevene breifly, before the necromacners start attacking the vitamancers
  Then the vitamancers and the pyromancers start attacking one another
  Then things gets pretty random
  Then the necromancers attack ther cryomancers.
  Then there are 607 groups of 5 battles where all of the mancers ignoring the electomancer are involved in once.
 The groups of 5 battles involve a lot of groups with attacks on both sides territory, which suggest either a
 very good spy network predicting one sides attacks, or someone is actively organising this. It also suggests the records are grouped in chronological order.
  The so called good mancers have won more battles than the other side, in particular once the group battles
  occur their lead over the other mancers appears to increase at a roughly constant rate. Granted some battles
  can be more important than others, but it does rather suggest that this plane is in rather more danger of
  being taken over by this lot than the other lot. You may call yourselves good, but anyone can call 
  themselves that.
  Assuming the probabilities of each mancers winning a battle only depend on the mancers involved and the
  location, and not any other battles suggest that if I want to maximise their chances of winning 5 battles
  I should tell them to:
  Cryomancer COUNTER  v Pyromancer A 100.0 % of WIN Min data points 18
  Vitamancer A COUNTER  v Pyromancer B 71.42857142857143 % of WIN Min data points 18
  Geomancer A DEFEND  v Necromancer A 100.0 % of WIN Min data points 18
  Vitamancer B COUNTER  v Necromancer B 65.21739130434783 % of WIN Min data points 18
  Geomancer B DEFEND  v Necromancer C 100.0 % of WIN Min data points 18
  P(All Win) = 46.58385093167702
  P(4 Win) = 71.42857142857143
  And if I was to sabotage there efforts by maximising there chances of losing 5 battles:
  Vitamancer A DEFEND  v Pyromancer A 11.888111888111888 % of WIN Min data points 19
  Cryomancer DEFEND  v Pyromancer B 12.5 % of WIN Min data points 19
  Vitamancer B COUNTER  v Necromancer A 0.0 % of WIN Min data points 19
  Geomancer A COUNTER  v Necromancer B 28.000000000000004 % of WIN Min data points 19
  Geomancer B COUNTER  v Necromancer C 4.166666666666666 % of WIN Min data points 19
  P(All Lose) = 53.197552447552454
  P(4 Lose) = 73.88548951048952
 Is winning all 5 battles more important than a bigger chance of winning 4 battles . This bunch of incompetents don't say. In any case it makes no difference if I was to help them, and only a small difference if I wasn't.
  Confining the analysis just to the groups of 5 yields slightly different results:
  Vitamancer B COUNTER  v Pyromancer A 89.1891891891892 % of WIN Min data points 18
  Cryomancer COUNTER  v Pyromancer B 85.29411764705883 % of WIN Min data points 18
  Geomancer A DEFEND  v Necromancer A 100.0 % of WIN Min data points 18
  Vitamancer A DEFEND  v Necromancer B 76.92307692307693 % of WIN Min data points 18
  Geomancer B DEFEND  v Necromancer C 100.0 % of WIN Min data points 18
  P(All Win) = 58.51779381191147
  P(4 Win) = 76.0731319554849
  Vitamancer A DEFEND  v Pyromancer A 9.090909090909092 % of WIN Min data points 12
  Cryomancer DEFEND  v Pyromancer B 12.5 % of WIN Min data points 12
  Vitamancer B COUNTER  v Necromancer A 0.0 % of WIN Min data points 12
  Geomancer A COUNTER  v Necromancer B 31.57894736842105 % of WIN Min data points 12
  Geomancer B COUNTER  v Necromancer C 4.166666666666666 % of WIN Min data points 12
  P(All Lose) = 52.15809409888358
  P(4 Lose) = 76.23106060606062
As the situation qualitatively changed when the groups of battles started to occur these are the ones to use
if I want to help or hinder them? But do I? On the available data there is no obvious way to know which outcome would best server my interests. If they are  distrustfull enough to take all these precautions they may be expecting me to give them what seems to be the worst possible outcome, and they are trying to trick me by changing the labels so that it is actually the best.
 These mind games are what demons should be playing on mortals not the other way around. They are really out of line by putting me in this position! So I won't give them any advice at all. Whatever they were planning 
 it is highly unlikely that they would go to the trouble of summoning a demon in the hope that it would
 ignore them. And if I ever comes across them again in more normal circumstances I will be sure to teach them a lesson. Now back to some good old fashioning demoning...

Comment by Yonge on D&D.Sci III: Mancer Matchups · 2021-03-05T20:57:49.191Z · LW · GW

The intel file contains two attacks by Necromancer A, but no attacks by Necromancer C. We're also told that the attacks will be simultaneous, and two mages can't be in the same place at the same time. Is this a typo?

Comment by Yonge on D&D.Sci II: The Sorceror's Personal Shopper · 2021-01-16T11:39:03.889Z · LW · GW

I came up with this:

// Plotting a graph of reading v colour reveals the following.
//- Blue somewhat erratic but definite trend of increasing mana with increasing reading
//  The erratic part is in the 22 - 63 range, before and after steady increase/decrease.
//- Green  seems to fluctuate in the 2- 40 range regardless or reading
//- red erratic all over the place, no consistent pattern
//- yellow seems to fluctuate in the 18 - 21 range regardless of reading
// Green has an average mana of 21, red 25 , though green seems to have fewer with really low values.
// There is no obvious correlation based on the items name.
// Eliminating obviously uneconomic items suggest the following are realistic:
//Pendant of Hope         54 mana      34 gold    BLUE
//Ring of Joy             10-30 mana   32 gold    BLUE
//Hammer of Capability    15-35 mana   35 gold    BLUE
//Warhammer of Justice +1 18-21 mana   41 gold    YELLOW
//Plough of Plenty        18-21 mana   35 gold    YELLOW
//Saw of Capability +1    avg 21 mana  35 gold    GREEN
//Amulet of Wounding +2   avg 21 mana  35 gold    GREEN
//Pendant of Truth        avg 25 mana  38 gold    RED
// Pendant of Hope is obviously the best. Could reach target with near 100 percent certainty with top 5 items
// leaving me with 23 gold.
// Pendant of Hope + Saw of Capabilty + amulet of Wounding + Pendant of Truth would leave me with 58 gold
// if it worked, but would probably fail just under 50 percent of the time. This could be reduce significantly
// by paying 32 gold, but that would only leave me with 3 gold more, and still looks less certain.
// As avoiding being in debt by 200 gold is probably much more important to me than gaining 25 gold I will go
// for what looks to be the safe option of:
// Pendant of Hope
// Ring of Joy
// Hammer of Capability
// Warhammer of Justice + 1
// Plough of Plenty
// And hopefully 23 gold.

Comment by Yonge on D&D.Sci · 2020-12-09T20:12:48.321Z · LW · GW

My attempt:


My first thought is to look for the lowest stat in each category which succeeded. I will probably want at least this. Unfortunately this is 2 in every case, so this doesn't help.

My second thought is to look for a patch in stat space where there are a disproportionably large number of successes, however of the stats I can access none has a meaningful number of adventurers particularly close to them.

My third idea is, for every possible set of stats we could choose look at the adventurers whose stats were strictly worse than or equal to those, and see which ones enclosed the highest proportion of successes. There are several with a 100 percent success rate, but none with more than 2 data points, which isn't much. There are however 2 with 6 datapoints and an 83 percent success rate, which seems better established:
str: 8 con: 14 dex: 13 int: 20 wis: 12 cha: 5
str: 8 con: 14 dex: 13 int: 19 wis: 13 cha: 5
Both seem roughly evenly balanced, and either seems to be a reasonable choice. I would go with the first purely on the intuition that if you are going to have one really strong stat, better to go all the way.

Comment by Yonge on Final Babble Challenge (for now): 100 ways to light a candle · 2020-11-14T16:10:58.006Z · LW · GW

Stop anything showing up in the spoilers.

1) With a match.

2) Use a magnifying glass to focus the suns rays onto it.

3) Fire a laser beam at it.

4) Use a cigarette lighter.

5) Use a bunsen burner.

6) Strike flints against one another to generate sparks to light the candle.

7) Dip it in a lava pool.

8) Use a heater to increase the temperature in the room till it self ignites.

9) Attach the wick to two wires, then use them to put a large amount of electrical power through it.

10) Take it to a bonfire, and put the candle in it.

11) Rub sticks together to start a fire, then use it to light the candle.

12) Detonating some explosives might light it if you are lucky.

13) Position the candle under a space rocket and wait for the rocket to launch.

14) Send the candle into a solar flare.

15) Send the candle into the accretion disk of a black hole.

16) Find a burning building, and light the candle from it.

17) Put it in the overn, and turn the heat up to maximum.

18) Wait till the news reports a heathland fire, then head to the fire to light it.

19) Put the candle at the edge of a nuclear fireball.

20) The candle might be electrically powered, in which case it can just be switched on.

21) Use another candle that is already lit.

22) Put it at the top of a lightning conductor, and hope it gets hit by lightning.

23) Put the wick in the way of a discharge from a Van De Graph generator.

24) Soak it in water, bombard it with an intense beam of microwaves, and hope it is heated up enough to ignite.

25) Put the candle in a solar furnace.

26) A telescope could be used to focus sunlight onto the candle.

27) Buy a lot of mirrors, rig up a complicated system to focus sunlight onto the candle.

28) Smash a lightbulb while it is switched on and use the hot filament to ignite the candle.

29) Douse the wick in hydrochloric acid, then drop a piece of potassium on it.

30) Cover the wick in phosphorus powder, take it to the Sahara desert where the high temperature will cause it to self ignite.

31) Take it to a steam train and use the fire in it to ignite the candle.

32) Hire a hot air balloon, use the flame that generates the hot air to ignite the candle.

33) Position the candle under a firework when it is launched.

34) Use the flame that burns above oil rigs to ignite it.

35) Put it in the fire burning in my fireplace.

36) Go to a fossil fuelled power station and use its fire to ignite it.

37) Go to a blast furnace and dip the candle in the molten metal.

38) Leave it in an experimental nuclear fusion power plant before it is switched on should do the trick.

39) Find part of a jungle that is going to be slashed and burned and leave it in the fires path.

40) Use a camping stove to ignite it.

41) Wait for the random motion of air molecules to cause it to spontaneously ignite.

42) Bore a hole down to the mantle and lower the candle down.

43) Mass burn all of the planets fossil fuels, eventually global warming will get so bad it will self ignite.

44) Put it in a box and send it to Venus where the high temperature will cause it to spontaneously ignite.

45) Would putting it in a room where the atmosphere was made of 100 percent oxygen ignite it?

46) Extract the gunpowder from several party poppers, detonate them at once near the candle and hope this ignites it.

47) Light a sparkler, and use the sparks given off to ignite the candle.

48) Use the spark generated by a spark plug in a car to ignite the candle.

49) Dip the candle in chlorine, replace the atmosphere in the room with hydrogen, and warm until it self ignites.

50) Fire an intense X ray beam at the candle.

51) Put the candle in a jet engine.

52) Putting the candle in a particle accelerator might work.

53) Use an intense neutrino beam to light it.

54) If the wick is laced with metal wires moving a strong magnet rapidly above it may induce currents which heat it up and cause it to light.

55) Drop the candle from the top of the atmosphere. The heat generated during renetry will light it.

56) Use the flame from an oil lamp to light it.

57) Use a burning compost heap to light it.

58) Take it to a neighbour and light it from their barbecue.

59) Light it from a burning torch.

60) Take it to a kiln.

61) Pour some molten lead on the candle.

62) Get a fire breather to breathe on it.

63) Use a welder to light the candle.

64) Dip it in a vat of boiling oil.

65) Compress the atmosphere in the room until it heats up enough that the candle self ignites.

66) Drop a minuscule amount of anti matter on the candle.

67) Use virtual quantum particles to transfer heat from a nearby hot object to the candle.

68) Drop a meteorite on the earth, light the candle from the resulting fireball.

69) Use the dynamo effect between Jupiter and Io to light it.

70) Leave the candle in the vicinity of a supernova.

71) Focus the energy generated by the northern lights onto it.

72) Go on an expedition to the Amazon in the search of a previously unknown fire breathing animal.

73) Maybe the current generated by an electric eel could light it?

74) Use some Greek fire.

75) Give it to a friend who has some means of lighting it for me.

76) Leave it in a rack of candles in a church, at some point someone will come along and light it.

77) If I throw it out in the rubbish, and the rubbish is burnt in an incinerator, it will in some sense be lighted.

78) Wait for the sun to expand to swallow the earth, which will inevitably light the candle.

79) Use a flame thrower.

80) Start a war and position it in a target likely to be targeted by incendiary bombs.

81) Use the hot air generated by politicians speeches to light it.

82) Return it to the place it was bought from, hopefully someone else will buy it and light it for me.

83) The Trojan candle stratagem: Claim that the candle is a gift from the Gods, and that the city that lights it will never be conquered. Hope this tricks someone into lighting it for me.

84) Use an oxyacetylene torch.

85) Use some nano technology that will bring atoms in the candle together with oxygen atoms in such a way that the candle will light.

86) Maybe dark matter could be used to light it some how?

87) Or maybe dark energy could be used instead?

88) Firing a high energy beam of muons at it would probably do the trick.

89) Leave the candle next to a battery that is known to catch fire. Wait for the battery to catch fire and light the candle.

90) Wait for the next scheduled witch burning. Insert the candle in the pyre, and wait for it to be lit.

91) Or wait for the next mock Viking ship to be burnt, and hide it in there.

92) Break into a shop that sells candles, add this one to the collection, leave someone else to buy it and light it for me.

93) Pour some sulfuric acid on it, then deposit a piece of sodium on it.

94) Carbonic acid and lithium should also work.

95) Soaking it in water, then pumping fluorine gas into the room should also work.

96) Pay someone else to light it for me.

97) Focus several sound waves on the candle to cause it to warm up and light.

98) Attach the candle to springs at either end, use them to pull it back and forth very fast so that air resistance causes it to heat up and light the candle.

99) Put it in a computer driven car. Program the car to drive into something at high speed. Hope that the resulting crash starts a fire that lights the candle.

100) Post a babble challenge on Less Wrong asking for 100 ways to light an candle, then use the best one.

Comment by Yonge on Babble Challenge: 50 thoughts on stable, cooperative institutions · 2020-11-08T19:10:31.747Z · LW · GW

1) Working complicated cooperative institutions are formed from many smaller institutions that work together.

2) People altruistically valuing the same thing can give rise to co-operation on a small scale, but I suspect it isn't so important at larger scales

3) Co-operation often arises because it is in the selfish interests of the co-operating entities.

4) People are probably genetically pre-disposed to co-operate with what they perceive as their ``tribe''.

5) My immediate reaction to this statement is that it isn't true: ``The magic that used to enable such cooperative institutions is fading.''

6) I agree that institutional cultures can help foster co-operation (or make it more difficult)

7) Peer pressure is a key factor in maintaining institutional cultures.

8) Government institutions have failed before, current situation doesn't look unique.

9) It is possible for things to get better.

10) Could the co-operation exhibited by ant colonies be regarded as an ant institution?

11) Maybe something like an institution is inevitable when multiple members of the same species live close to one another?

12) Things that look like an institutional failure from the outside may look like an institutional success from the inside. e.g. the bureaucracy may like expanding the bureaucracy even if no on else does.

13) Political institutions have become more inclusive over the 20th century, e.g. by giving women the vote.

14) At a high level could the entire human species be thought of as an institution?

15) The fall of early civilizations like Rome can be regarded as an early form of institutional failure.

16) Plenty of private sector institutions also fail. Most new companies tend to go bankrupt.

17) Government failings may be bigger/more noticeable than private sector ones because private sector ones tend to go bankrupt at an early stage, whereas the government has a large supply of cash to bail out failed projects.

18)Improvements in communications technologies have mad it easier for institutions to co-operate over larger scales.

19) re ``Most brand names seem to be less regarded than they used to be'' could probably be said at most times during the past.

20) Are subcultures much more difficult to form now, or is it that the ones that are forming are less visible to you?

21) The scale of the largest institutions has increased through time and will probably continue to do so.

22) Large institutions can insulate most of themselves from problems at the top, which limits the damage incompetent leaders can do.

23) Private sector institutions seem to be gaining in importance relative to public sector ones.

24) Governments may force some of the largest private sector institutions (google/amazon) to stop them become more powerful.

25) Multi national institutions will probably become more prevalent and more powerful.

26) We may get interplanetary institutions one day.

27) A pre historic tribe can be thought of as an institution, so in one form or another they have always been with us.

28) Short of going to live as a hermit in a remote location it is probably impossible to avoid being a member of an institution.

29) Relations between different institutions are a key part of what they do, and a major determinant of how successful they are.

30) Humans instinctively divide people into ingroup/outgroup. This probably helps define institutions as distinct entities.

31) Institutions that fail badly tend to cease to exist and be replaced by others. So at any time the existing institutions are the ones which have succeeded in co-operating at least to an extent. So we shouldn't be surprised that existing institutions tend to co-operate at least moderately well.

32) An institution can't form, or exist for any length of time without at least some co-operation and stability. So the title could be replaced with ``Where do institutions come from?''

33) Peoples knowledge of how to craft institutional cultures may be more instinctive and sub-conscious than conscious.

34) Perceived self interest is key. Rich and powerful people tend to set up incentives for others mainly because it is in their interest to do so, not out of altruism.

35) Fear of punishment (e.g. prison) for defecting against the institution can help keep them stable.

36) The post talks about trends originating on the West coast of the US, then spreading to the rest of the West, but what about Asia?

37) Asian nations will probably play a stronger role in shaping multi-national institutions in the future than western ones.

38) Maybe sub-cultures are harder to form now because most of the ones there is a need for have already formed?

39) Co-operative institutions are often not intentionally designed in the way they operate.

40) I wouldn't regard brands such as bitcoin or Amazon as being better regarded.

Mismanagement by government institutions is not limited to America. Some examples from Britain:

41) The government had ``Private Finance Initiatives'' which meant they didn't have to pay for infrastructure until a later date, and due to accounting tricks didn't have to be reported as government debt. If they had just borrowed the money up front and used that to pay for the infrastructure it would have cost less overall.

42) In the early part of the 21st century the government significantly increased the health budget to make themselves look good, unfortunately it was increased faster than it could easily absorb it, so a lot of it ended up being wasted on things that didn't improve health care.

43) Every government IT program seems to be delivered late and over budget. The government had to recently delay some changes to the law on same sex marriages because they couldn't change their IT systems in time, and they spent 10 billion pounds on an IT system for the health service that didn't work.

44) Strikes in the winter of 1978-79 disrupted key services such as gravedigging, rubbish collection, and some health services. Things got better after that, so it is possible to recover from failures.

45) In the 1990s Britain stopped building submarines for a while. When we started again loss of key skills meant the program was seriously delayed and went massively over budget, and the Americans had to be asked to help sort out this mess. It was later estimated that it would have been cheaper to build a couple of submarines during the gap to maintain the skill base than what actually happened.

46) Britain's handling of Covid 19 is an epic fail. The government seems to be reacting against short term pressure with no clear long term plan to handle it.

47) When the British government was building the next generation of air defence destroyers they changed the program so that fewer would be built for more money just because it would keep it within short term budgets.

48) When the British government was negotiating Brexit they gave away their best negotiating cards in the initial round of negotiations without getting anything meaning full in return.

49) The British government spent billions of pounds on a new maritime patrol aircraft, paid the company more money for providing fewer of them at a later date when they screwed up, then scrapped them just as they were about to become operational, then realised a few years later this left a major capability gap, and then decided to buy inferior aircraft from abroad as they no longer had confidence local industry could deliver.

50) A few years ago when a new pay package was being negotiated for some workers in the health system the government agreed to pay them a lot more for doing less just because the unions proposed it.

Comment by Yonge on Babble challenge: 50 consequences of intelligent ant colonies · 2020-11-01T20:55:56.215Z · LW · GW

 1) Destroying ant colonies becomes a criminal offence in many countries.

2) Some countries launch a campaign to exterminate the perceived threat.

3) There is a large outbreak of online conspiracy theories asserting that this is proof of the existence of aliens/Gods.

4) The person(s) who discovered ant colonies are intelligent becomes very famous and wins a lot of prizes.

5) Building things becomes more expensive due to the need to conduct surveys to ensure that no ant colonies are disturbed.

6) Special reservations are created where ant colonies can live free of human interference.

7) Computer games where you play as a simulated ant gain in popularity.

8) The UN tries to organise peace talks between warring ant colonies.

9) A large number of stories are written involving intelligent ant colonies.

10) A society for the promotion of the welfare of ants is formed

11) A lot of scientific research is diverted into trying to understand why ants colonies are intelligent, and how to communicate with them.

12) Companies that try to trade with ants lose money as it turns out that we don't have much they want.

13) A lot of people refuse to believe that ant colonies are intelligent, and go on anti-ant protests claiming it is all a conspiracy.

14) The SETI program gets a large infusion of cash to hunt for other intelligences out there.

15) Intelligent ant colonies are able to grow faster, and go onto devastate many ecosystems.

16) Toy ants become one of the best selling toys.

17) Documentaries/non fiction books about ants become more popular.

18) A lot of people think 'Oh that's interesting' - and then continue doing exactly what they would have done anyway.

19) Special jails have to be built to hold ant colonies that kill people.

20) It becomes illegal to keep ants as pets.

21) A movie with a totally unrealistic depiction of an ant colony as a hero wins the oscars.

22) It inspires a single love 'Love our Ants' which tops the charts for a record period of time.

23) A statue of an ant is put on the fourth plinth of Trafalgar square

24) Vegetarianism becomes more popular as some people start thinking other animals might also be intelligent.

25) Politicians make boring speeches about what this means about our place in the world, which are mostly ignored.

26) The US military gets a multi billion dollar budget for anti-ant super weapons, and the project goes hopelessly over budget.

27) Ant colonies become a convenient scapegoat for things like global warming.

28) It becomes illegal to keep ants as pets.

29) Ant colonies are given the vote in elections.

30) Ant colonies win an election as they outnumber the humans.

31) Ant colonies begin re-arranging the world to suit them.

32) There are a large number of anti-ant government protests.

33) Ant colonies decide that humans are an environmental menace and should be wiped out for the good of the rest of planet.

34) Ant colonies are able to use there numerical advantage to wipe the humans out.

35) Humans are able to use their advanced technology to make large ant colonies extinct.

36) Ants become temporarily the most googled keyword

37) Ant colonies inspire novel attempts to create AIs based on them.

38) Relations between different groups of humans becomes better as their differences looks small compared to their differences with ants.

39) People refuse to believe that ant colonies could be intelligent. It undermines trust in science, which is used by various special interest groups to undermine the scientific case whenever it is in their interests.

40) The number of people in prison increases as a lot of people are arrested for killing ants.

41) Fears that governments will ban pesticides that kill ants lead to people panic buying anti-ant pesticides.

42) Governments ban pesticides that could kill ants.

43) Reduced pesticide use leads to a drop in global food production.

44) Lack of food causes riots in several developing countries.

45) More people die of hunger.

46) Countries go to war over the lack of food.

47) School children are required to learn about ant colonies in school.

48) A campaign is launched to wipe out predators that could destroy ant colonies.

49) Zoos are no longer allowed to have ant colonies.

50) Zoos are no longer allowed to feed ants to their animals.


Comment by Yonge on Babble challenge: 50 ways of solving a problem in your life · 2020-10-25T21:41:26.756Z · LW · GW

 50 Ways of improving my financial situation:


1) Look for a higher paying job

2) Look for a bank account that pays a higher rate of interest

3) Put money in an ISA

4) Research undervalued shares, and then buy some

5) Search for treasure

6) Buy cheaper food

7) Go on fewer holidays

8) Buy a lottery ticket

9) Cancel the TV license

10) Move to a property where you have to pay less council tax

11) Be more careful at turning off electrical appliances when you aren't using them to reduce the electricity bill.

12) Wash less often to reduce the water bill.

13) Stop using my smart phone.

14) Sign up to a site that pays you for doing surveys

15) Join Amazons Mechanical Turk

16) Sell things I no longer need on an online website

17) Find somewhere to live with a lower rent

18) Turn the heating down

19) Try and find an electricity provider with lower prices

20) Try and find and internet service provider with lower charges

21) Buy more things second hand

22) Look for a part time job in the weekends/evenings

23) Put more money into the pension

24) Wait for sales before buying things, if there purchase can be delayed

25) Found a company, and hope it is a big success

26) Look for a self help book on getting rich

27) Do training for a profession where the salaries are higher

28) Take any overtime opportunities if they are offered at work

29) Go on fewer day trips

30) Try and get more done during the working day in the hope of getting a bigger bonus

31) Be careful to use any vouchers you get at the supermarket

32) Hunt around for any discount codes you can use with on line retailers

33) Move the bank account to one that pays you an incentive for switching

34) Do more research to find the lowest possible price before buying something

35) Move to a country with a lower tax rate

36) Recycle old ink cartridges for cash

37) Ask for a pay rise

38) Take advantage of refer a friend offers

39) Use split ticketing more often to cut the amount spent on rail tickets

40) Write a book and try to get it published

41) Enter competitions to win things instead of buying them

42) Take part in medical drug trials for money

43) Make a horrible piece of modern art and enter it for the Turner prize to win a lot of money

44) Don't visit the family as often

45) Invest in companies via brokers that charge lower fees

46) Ensure my savings accounts that pay the highest amount of interest always have the maximum amount of money in them

47) Take advantage of zero percent credit card deals to delay paying them off. I will gain a bit more money by keeping it in the bank for longer.

48) Try and find a company that will insure my possessions for less.

49) Learn how to repair clothes instead of buying new ones.

50) Create a website and get money from hosting adverts

Comment by Yonge on Babble challenge: 50 ways of hiding Einstein's pen for fifty years · 2020-10-17T11:23:16.799Z · LW · GW

1) Dig a hole in the garden and hide it there.

2) Put it in a waterproof pouch at the bottom of the local pond

3) Put it in the same container I use to store the pens I normally use for writing

4) Put it in a pen museum

5) Hide it under the floorboards in my house

6) Put it in a safe in a bank

7) Leave it permanently in my trouser pocket

8) Have a risky surgical operation to open a cut in my body, insert the pen then seal the wound, and cut it out in 50 years time

9) Hide it in a cave

10) Go and live as a hermit in Antarctica for 50 years. Keep pen with me at all times

11) Have it stored with the crown jewels

12) Sew it into my coat

13) Put it into a puzzle box

14) Hide it at the top of a tree in a forest

15) Break into the villains den and attach it to the bottom of their leaders throne

16) Hide it under the altar in the local church

17) Hollow out a flagpole, insert pen into hole

18) Hide it under some rocks at the top of a hard to climb mountain

19) Hide it at the bottom of a barrel of beer in the cellar

20) Remove a stone from a wall, insert pen, then cover it up with a narrower stone

21) Bury it in a grave

22) Put it on a fishing boat, and sink the boat out at sea

23) Start a pen making company. Make lots of identical pens. Hide it amongst the masses.

24) Put in down the back of the sofa

25) Hide it under my bed

26) Hide it in a priest hole

27) Let the villains find a fake copy of the pen so they give up and stop looking. The real pen can then be left on display on  my mantlepiece.

28) If a small piece of a pen is removed and replaced it is still considered to be the same pen. Repeat this many times until there is nothing of the original left. As there is nothing of the original left the villains won't recognise it as the pen they are after and it can be left in plain sight.

29) Dismantle the pen into its component pieces. Put them into a container. The villains are too stupid to recognise they are the components of the pen so they can be left in the open. Reassemble the pen in fifty years.

30) Join the villains. Use position of influence within their organisation to misdirect their search in the wrong direction.

31) Spread rumours that it has been hidden somewhere else to misdirect their search.

32) Build a model of a ship. Hide pen inside the model.

33) Hide it down the spine of a book.

34) Use the pen as the pointer on a weather vane, and put it on the roof.

35) Create an early modern art style exhibition. Amongst all the junk no one will notice the pen.

36) Incorporate the pen into a wind chime in the garden.

37) Frame the villains for murder, they won't be finding the pen after they've been hanged.

38) Just make a pre-emptive strike and kill all the villains myself.

39) Add some decorations to the pen so in no longer looks like what they are expecting. They can be removed in 50 years time.

40) Give the pen to a trusted friend the villains don't know about to hide it, then go on an expedition travelling around the world to lead them on a wild goose chase.

41) Join the army, and keep the pen on me. The villains will have a hard time searching for it whilst I am surrounded by a lot of heavily armed people.

42) Join an expedition to explore the Amazon at the last moment. taking the pen with me; they will have a hard time following me.

43) Bury it in the zoo in a cage containing a lot of extremely dangerous animals. Even if they figure out where it is hidden they may be too frightened to risk going after it.

44) Bribe the local police to hide it in the police station

45) In an emergency it could be temporarily hidden up someones bottom

46) As absolute dictator of my country I will ban pens, and require that they are all handed over to me, and buried in a secure vault under my palace. Even if the villains can breach security they will have a hard time finding the one they want amongst all the confiscated pens.

47) Just hand it over to them. They refuse to believe that this is the real pen because I would never hand it over to them and throw it away so I can recover it later. As a result they look everywhere for the pen except where it actually is.

48) Let them have the pen, then  steal it back from them later, replacing it with a fake. As they believe they have the pen they won't search for it so hiding it from them is trivial.

49) Hide it inside a grandfather clock

50) When they come to interrogate me try and engage them in a long conversation, preferably one which involves them boasting about their future plans; whilst my friend goes out the back door to take the pen to a safer location.

Comment by Yonge on Babble challenge: 50 ways to escape a locked room · 2020-10-11T19:53:23.842Z · LW · GW

1) Phone a friend to come and open the door for you

2) Break the window with my fists and jump out

3) If the floor is made of soil a tunnel can be dug under the walls

4) Use the power in the phone to start a fire and set fire to the door

5) Disassemble the phone and try to make a key to pick the lock

6) Crawl out through a convenient ventilation duct

7) If the lock is connected to the internet the phone could be used to hack it and trick it into unlocking

8) Wait for whoever locked you in to open the door, knock them unconscious and go through the open door

9)  Jump up to the low roof and open the skylight

10) Cry out at the top of my voice, to ask someone outside to let me out

11) If the lock can be unlocked by saying the right password keep guessing it until you get it right

12) Dismantle the phone to make an improvised screwdriver, and unscrew the screws holding the lock in place

13) Post messages on every social media account, and hope someone will pick them up and free you.

14) Look for and find a secret passage leading out

15) Contact a good lawyer on the phone, to get the authorities to let you out of jail.

16) Slide piece of clothing under the door, push key out of lock, pull clothing and key under door, use key to open lock

17) Use phone to send money to someone as a bribe to let you out

18) If the phone happens to have the key stored on it to open the lock just use.

19) Pick away at the mortar holding the brisk together until they can be removed.

20) Use acid in the phones battery to melt the lock

21) Pretend to be dead, so whoever locked you in will take your body outside.

22)  Bang out an SOS signal on the door in the hope it will attract the attention of someone who will let you out

23) Call the fire brigade to get you out

24) Take something thin out of the phone, insert it between the door and the frame, and try and force the lock back

25) Crawl out through a large gap under the door

26) Call a locksmith to let you out

27) Keep running into the door until it gives way

28) Keep jumping up and down on the floor till it gives way and you fall into the room below.

29) Just wait. If the room is in a bad state of repair one of the walls might collapse allowing me to walk out.

30) Who cares about the physical world. If I have wi-fi I can escape virtually into cyberspace

31) Pray to a God to let me out

32) Find something magnetic in the phone. Use the magnet to draw the bolt on the other side of the door back

33) My clothes are an improvised suit or armour partly made up of a saw (I was attending a fancy dress party). Use the saw to cut through the lock

34) Set my clothes on fire. The lock is programmed to open if a fire is detected, so I can walk out

35) Use the phone to create a program for a super intelligent AI, and leave it to figure out how to get me out

36) Post a creative thinking exercise to Less Wrong: Find 50 ways to get out of a locked room and hope someone comes up with a usable idea

37) Use the phone to contact my driverless car. It can ram the walls to break through and let me out

38) The room is precariously balanced on a cliff edge. Moving to one side will cause it to topple and then break up

39) Someone forgot to build a roof, so I can jump up grab the top of the walls and hall myself out

40) If there is a letter box in the door I can reach through it and unbolt the door

41) The lock is made out of glass. Sing at its resonant frequency so it shatters and the door can be opened

42) Just walk up to the door. It just happens to be a type that automatically unlocks and opens when someone approaches

43) Fiddle with the phone so it starts transmitting at a frequency that will interfere with other important transmissions. The authorities will need to come and unlock the room to stop the interference.

44) The walls of the room are made of light weight plastic which is not fixed to the floor, so I can pick the entire room up and slip under it.

45) Remove some wire from the phone, push it through the letterbox and try to pick up the key which has been left on a nearby shelf with it.

46) I left a spare key buried in the ground just in case I got locked in. Dig it out and use it to escape.

47) There is a big whole in a wall that has been covered over with a piece of canvas. I can find something sharp in the phone to cut my way out.

48) Kill this body and activate a clone which is not locked inside the room.

49) If our technology advanced enough that we can live without food or water for 10 years maybe its advanced enough that I can just teleport out.

50) Keep punching the wall until it is worn away and I can step out