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Josh Mitteldorf

Posted: Tue, March 12, 2013 | By: Authors



My primary occupation these days is evolutionary biology. I am a theorist, specializing in computer simulations that demonstrate how natural selection can act on groups and communities. I am affiliated with the EAPS at MIT, but I work on my own. I’ve recently completed a book on aging from an evolutionary perspective, and in it I explore the conundrum: if aging destroys our fitness, then why does evolution put up with it?  Indeed, why do we have genes whose purpose is to kill us on a schedule?  The short answer is that without aging, no one would die until everyone was dying, in an epidemic or a famine. Steady, predictable death rates are necessary to build stable ecosystems. (I welcome your comments on the ms - a draft is available here.)   More about this on my biology page. Another book, taking a broader cultural and medical view of the subject of aging, is in the works with Dorion Sagan.

Check out my page on how to live a long life, and weekly blog on aging science.

In the past, I have worked in astrophysics, optical design, and energy conservation. I have taught (statistics, physics, math, astronomy, evolution) at Harvard,BerkeleyTempleUPennLaSalle and Bryn Mawr.

Since the 2004 presidential election, I’ve been part of a net-organized coalition of statisticians who analyze voting patterns for evidence of errors or fraud.  I work closely with Election Integrity, and the Election Defense Alliance.

In the past, I was active at the Drexel Math Forum , where students from around the world submit questions that are fielded by a loose network of volunteer experts and educators.  The Northwestern University Center for Connected Learning , where I am a consultant, is pioneering the idea of computer simulation as a flexible learning tool.

My two commercial software packages are intended to make smart financial analysis accessible to people of limited math background - they’re available for free download below and at the Per%Sense web site. 

I’m a peace activist and an environmentalist, a retired board member at Philadelphia’s Energy Coordinating Agency.  and past president of the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Pennsylvania.

For almost thirty years, I’ve been teaching a weekly yoga class through Mount Airy Learning Tree, an education coop named for my neighborhood in Philadelphia. This is my own brand of public health activism, as well as a way to keep my own spiritual practice alive.  I enjoy the support of the meditation community atSpringboard Studio in Mt Airy.

I am active in Philadelphia’s amateur music community, playing piano in chamber ensemble, French horn and oboe in the Olney Symphony. Summers, my family and I have enjoyed the music camp in Quebec operated by CAMMAC, the Bennington summer program for chamber musicians, and a Pennsylvania music camp called Summertrios. I’m an avid member of the Amateur Chamber Musician Players.

For twenty years, I was married to Alice Ballard, a civil rights attorney in Philadelphia. Our two daughters, Sarah and Madeline, are among the first children adopted from China in the mid-1980s. Sarah is building a career as a theater director.   Maddy graduated this year from Eugene Lang College, and is continuing to take courses to prepare herself for veterinary school.



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