“The Back of the Envelope” is a reference to Italian-American physicist, Enrico Fermi, who would often do fast, rough calculations just to get a sense of whether an idea is potentially reasonable or not. These types of first-order approximations were meant to give a quantitative sense of whether an idea from the top of one’s head was on the right track, way off-base, or in need of further investigation, and were defined by the order of magnitude accuracy one could get with just some plausible starting numbers and hasty arithmetic on any available scrap of paper.
I notice that sometimes writers of non-fiction (journalists, editorial writers, political pundits) get caught up in their own narrative and think they can write whatever kind of ending (conclusion) they want. As a math and science teacher myself, I try to make a point of grounding speculation and opinion in real-world evidence and actual numbers, rather than rhetoric.
My main topics of interest include environmental issues, general science, speculative fiction, educational issues, and my own ongoing experiment of freelance writing. I also love to travel, and have resided in Canada (originally), China, and Costa Rica. I’m trying to hit all the “C”s first.
I welcome comments, either on the site or via e-mail (jjsboyce (at) hotmail (dot) com). I hope to hear from you, whether you’ve run your own thoughts through the Fermi test beforehand or not.