Robin Hanson comments on David Brin’s response to a New Scientist editorial. As Brin notes, many would-be broadcasters come from an academic area where for decades the standard assumption has been that aliens are peaceful zero-population-growth no-nuke greens, since we all know that any other sort quickly destroy themselves. This seems to me an instructive [...]
Archive for the 'Found On Web' Category
Two nanoparticles connected by a polymer will tend to be drawn together at finite temperatures (though not at absolute zero) because as the polymer chain explores the states available to it, there are many more tangled and balled up ones than stretched-out straight ones — even though there is no overt force pulling the chain [...]
There’s a really nice article at Wired about Kevin Dunbar’s research how science is really done and how often scientists get data they didn’t expect. Dunbar knew that scientists often don’t think the way the textbooks say they are supposed to. He suspected that all those philosophers of science — from Aristotle to Karl Popper [...]
From the TR Physics Arxiv blog: The quantum vacuum has fascinated physicists ever since Hendrik Casimir and Dirk Polder suggested in 1948 that it would exert a force on a pair of narrowly separated conducting plates. Their idea was eventually confirmed when the force was measured in 1997. Just how to exploit this force is [...]
H+ magazine is available online: my article, Singularity: nanotech or AI, is on page 82. enjoy!
The Royal society has a new website making freely available a selection of classic papers from the history of science. (h/t Luboš Motl’s The Reference Frame): I am just looking at an Isaac Newton’s letter about light and colors sent to the editor of Cambridge University Press in February 1671/72. It describes some Newton’s basic [...]
(or a little physics about climate change. Or at least a few clarifications about some of the points being raised.) In the wake of Climategate, a wide variety of mistakes and misapprehensions are being circulated on the Internet (as if that weren’t happening before). For example, in this article from the Telegraph: Phil Jones, the [...]
Just for fun: (h/t Roger Pielke, Jr.) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VRBWLpYCPY) (h/t Megan McArdle)
“Science advances, funeral by funeral.” (often attributed to Timothy Ferris) The blogosphere has been abuzz over the past week or so with the release of data — emails and program source and documentation — from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, one of the premier climatology research institutions in the world. [...]
From the protein crystallography beamline at Berkeley Labs Advanced Light Source: an action shapshot the Rho transcription factor from E. coli. The orange spiral in the middle is a strand of RNA, and Rho is everything else. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPQ0OnlfkkA) (h/t Technology Review blog)
Gallery – A joyride through the nanoscale – Image 1 – New Scientist. This New Scientist article has some nice images from Whitesides recent book, sort of a retake on the “Secret House” idea.
Five essential things to know about evolution – Ars Technica. John Timmer dispels some common misconceptions. An understanding of evolution is key to understanding technological change — we individual humans are the mutations and crossover, but the dynamics of the overall process is similar.
The evolution of science moves, in Kuhn’s famous theory, not in a smooth accretion of knowledge but in a series of punctuated equilibria. This means that before a paradigm shift happens, there is an overhang where the majority of scientists believe something that the mojority won’t a scientific generation later. Thomas Bouchard, the psychologist who [...]
Over at the Moral Machines blog, there’s a pointer to an AP story about the recent DC train crash: Investigators looking into the deadly crash of two Metro transit trains focused Tuesday on why a computerized system failed to halt an oncoming train, and why the train failed to stop even though the emergency brake [...]
There is at Technology Review’s arXiv blog an article “How to find bugs in giant software programs.” It’s an overview of a paper on arXiv which is a statistical study of program sizes and bug distributions in the Eclipse dataset of Java programs. TR says, So how are errors distributed among these programs? It would [...]
“Codex Futurius” is a project of Discover Magazine’s Science Not Fiction blog in which they ask science questions raised by science fiction.. Then they ask the National Academy of Sciences’ Science and Entertainment Exchange to reccommend them experts to answer the questions. Their first question came to me, and it was about gray goo … [...]
The highly anticipated Wolfram|Alpha site came online over the weekend, and here are some first impressions: They need a little work on the html — this was Firefox, but it looked the same on Konqueror.
A nice display of serendipitous artistic images found while doing science, at Princeton: Hat-tip to Eurekalert.
I suspect many readers have seen Neil Gershenfeld’s TED talk on fab labs, or read his book. In particular, notice the part where he comments that fabs are following the track of computers, currently in the minicomputer stage. You can see the same progression in my keynote for a SME meeting a couple of years [...]
20 years ago, in the wake of the cold fusion excitement-turned-debacle, I noticed an interesting fact. The people doing the experiments were divided into two classes: The electrochemists who believed that fusion was happening were doing their experiments in plastic tubs and glassware, whereas the physicists who believed that no fusion was really happening were [...]