In Memoriam – 2006

May 30, 2006

This blog is too infrequent to have many traditions. The following is my only annual one. It's the third time I've had to update it.


I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.

— John Adams (1735-1826)

As a theoretical physicist with major metaphysical leanings, I've long felt the above quote by President Adams to be especially pertinent to me personally. Therefore, to the many who have made the sacrifice to study the ugly side of life so that others may study the beautiful side, I offer my humblest thanks.


And there have been so many…

War/Conflict Personnel Served Battle Deaths Other Deaths Wounds Not Mortal
World War I
4,734,991 53,402 63,114 204,002*
World War II
16,112,566 291,557 113,842 671,846*
Korean War
5,720,000 33,741 2,835 103,284
Vietnam Conflict
8,744,000 47,415 10,785 153,303
Persian Gulf War
2,225,000 147 235 467

* See reference notes below for sources of these figures.  Note that World War I "Wounds Not Mortal" as well as the Marine Corps contribution to WWII "Wounds Not Mortal" (68,207 of the 671,846) are actually "Wounded In Action" (i.e., number of soldiers wounded) and technically not "Wounds Not Mortal" (of which one soldier could receive multiple ones during his tour of duty, of course).

US Casualties Suffered in Major Ongoing Operations**

[For comparison, bracketed figures give the DoD official totals as they stood last year on Memorial Day 2004, which reflected casualties up through May 27, 2005 10 AM EST.]

Operation Killed in Action Nonhostile Deaths Wounded In Action
Enduring Freedom
(Sep 2001-present)
Iraqi Freedom
(Mar 2003-present)

** This year's figures current as of May 30, 2006, 10 AM EDT. See reference notes below.

Notes and References for the Tables:

For 1st Table:

Source: U.S. Department of Defense, Directorate for Information Operations and Reports, Statistical Information and Analysis Division. "DoD Principal Wars – US Military Personnel Serving and Casualties"

All names used (notably, "Vietnam Conflict" and "Persian Gulf War") as well as all years chosen for tabulation (notably, including 1946 casualties in "World War II" and including only 1964-1973 casualties in the "Vietnam Conflict") are those used by the Department of Defense in the above source.

For 2nd Table:

Source: The most recent (which, in this case, was May 30, 2006 10 AM EST) "Casualty Reports" link of, the official web portal to all of the public US Department of Defense websites. Note that the Casualty Reports link is regularly updated and the most current one can always be found at the bottom of the "Press Resources" linklist in the right column of

NB: A useful general source for all military casualties from all US military engangements is the "Military Casualty Information" webpage of U.S. Department of Defense, Directorate for Information Operations and Reports, Statistical Information and Analysis Division. The “DoD Personnel & Procurement Statistics” page of the Statistical Information and Analysis Division has a wealth of information on many other topics too.

Lately, I've been loathe to blog out of fear that it'll lead too much procrastination (which would be especially bad since I think the "just right" level of procrastination is roughly a 40 hour a week job in and of itself).

So, in an effort to make sure this blog promotes rather than detracts from my research efficiency, I'm instituting the following feature seen elsewhere around the web, The Whiteboard of the Week. Not only will it me encourage me to produce at least one tangible piece of evidence a week that I've done work, but also it will encourage me to clean up my messy whiteboard writing.

This week I'm focusing on TAing MIT's introductory solid state physics course for first-year electrical engineering grad students, and thus my office whiteboard today looked like this.

Whiteboard of the Week May 22 2006

(Click picture for full 1024 x 768 JPEG)

Somehow I forgot this bon mot from The Simpsons:

BART: Look at me, I'm a grad student!   I'm 30, and I made $600 last year.

MARGE: Bart, don't make fun of grad students.   They just made a terrible life choice.

(I'm just kidding.  MIT is the Happiest Place on EarthTM… or at least it will be once the legal conflicts with Disney are settled.)

So now that this blog's been reincarnated, I suppose I should post something. My normal bloggy habits were to read or see something horrible, become obsessively aggravated by it, procrastinate tremendously on my real work by doing an absurd amount on research on it, and then finally write a post that usually included just a teeny-tiny fraction of all that obsessive work. (Did ya check out the references on the bottom of my Hiroshima and Nagasaki post? I really went out and looked for just the right table in the US Strategic Bombing Survey. I have Excel analysis of it—cross-referenced against Morris's Fog of War documentary to boot—that I didn't include since, well, that'd just make y'all think I'm clinically obsessive. 🙂 )

Thus, I think this time around I should actively try to check this habit or, failing that, at least try to keep it to manageable proportions. So this post is about a teeny-tiny horrible thing, rather than a world-historical horrible thing. But, man, it's horrible in its own special way…

Read the rest of this entry »


May 3, 2006

After about 9 months of not posting, I doubt I still have any regular readers.   But for those of you who know me from

welcome to the new WordPress version.   Since the frequency of my posts over the last year (i.e., near zero) doesn't really warrant a paid subscription blog service like TypePad, I imagine I'll be closing the old TypePad version relatively soon and moving exclusively to this WordPress site.   Thus, for all you who've been kind enough to link to me in the past, please update the link to: