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What I would call "Theme and Variations on Platonic Solids", which is
one way that you can tell I should never, ever be in marketing.


Astronomers' favorite images, plus some new stuff from Hubble.
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References an article in Science to which I don't have access, sadly, but here's the abstract:

For centuries, scientists have attempted to identify and document analytical laws that underlie physical phenomena in nature. Despite the prevalence of computing power, the process of finding natural laws and their corresponding equations has resisted automation. A key challenge to finding analytic relations automatically is defining algorithmically what makes a correlation in observed data important and insightful. We propose a principle for the identification of nontriviality. We demonstrated this approach by automatically searching motion-tracking data captured from various physical systems, ranging from simple harmonic oscillators to chaotic double-pendula. Without any prior knowledge about physics, kinematics, or geometry, the algorithm discovered Hamiltonians, Lagrangians, and other laws of geometric and momentum conservation. The discovery rate accelerated as laws found for simpler systems were used to bootstrap explanations for more complex systems, gradually uncovering the "alphabet" used to describe those systems.

It will be interesting to see how well this sort of thing does outside of the original domain.
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One has to give props to the BBC science editor for letting that title through.

Don't remember where I found this, but I do remember the person linking to it invoking Time Bandits, so I'll pass that along for the Gilliam fans.

Personally, however, especially since this involves the theft of mass from a helium star, I get a mental image of a dwarf sucking in massive amounts of helium, eventually saying in a squeaky voice (realizing his impending {d,b}oom) "OH, SHIT!" and then exploding.

You're welcome.
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This may be the least necessary sentence I've ever seen in an abstract:

"Without a doubt the most sophisticated behaviour seen in biological agents is demonstrated by organisms whose behaviour is guided by a nervous system."

Um, well, yeah. I'll go with that.

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Put most simply, science is a way of dealing with the world around us. It is a way of baffling the uninitiated with incomprehensible jargon. It is a way of obtaining fat government grants. It is a way of achieving mastery over the physical world by threatening it with destruction.

and don't miss the tables and charts: http://www.besse.at/sms/tables.html

I haven't read the whole thing yet, but it looks promising. (And apparently won the Hugo in 1986. Heh.)
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Quite the list of intellectual luminaries, each (for the most part) talking about a change in opinion. Reading the whole thing would take (even) me quite a lot of time which I don't have right now. But there's some good stuff in there. Kind of like a series of conversations in a high-octane cocktail party, really.
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I personally don't have very much of an opinion about global warming. If pressed, I will assume that it's happening and if left unchecked that its consequences may be disastrous...but I haven't done anything like the kind of meta-analysis that would be necessary in order for me to have an _informed_ opinion.

(For the record, I assume it's happening at least in part because the consequences of that assumption should lead us, in large part, to take actions that I consider to be a good idea anyway, e.g., slowing our consumption of nonrenewable resources and increased efficiency in a variety of contexts.)

Anyway, these are two essays on somewhat-opposed sides of the debate. Dyson's essay is particularly interesting because he spends a fair bit of it talking about the value of scientific heretics and heresies. He may have fallen a bit in love with being a gadfly, but I think that his basic point is sound. Worth reading, and quite readable.
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The ultimate high dive: http://www.popsci.com/popsci/aviationspace/3c082d2daa463110vgnvcm1000004eecbccdrcrd.html

Bogotá's "urban happiness movement", focusing on making city residents happier through tackling long commutes head-on: http://randomdude.com/blog/threads/2476-Hedonics-aka-Happiness-Economics

Building something like a functional hobbit-hole on the cheap: http://www.simondale.net/house/

The role of Cheney in the Bush administration, in 4 parts: http://blog.washingtonpost.com/cheney/

A pretty funny parody of a drug commercial with an anti-war-on-drugs message: http://www.drugpolicy.org/news/incarcerex.cfm

People that can (and will) print your business card on a peanut (shell): http://www.boingboing.net/2007/06/29/print_your_businessc.html

An interesting essay (and, including the original articles and the comments, a debate of sorts) on Wikipedia and its ilk: http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2007/06/27/knowledge_acces.html

Search engine for science videos: http://science.slashdot.org/science/07/07/01/1241250.shtml
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It's the New Scientist so it's not exactly high-quality science journalism...but it's not bad, and it's reasonably accessible.
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The most interesting part is that they apparently believe that existing knowledge regarding how this should be done is fundamentally mistaken (i.e., not an improvement on existing methods, but a new paradigm).

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Very pretty and rather informative. As the creator says, there are some usability/structural issues with it, but all in all it's quite impressive.
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(Actually, the article title differs somewhat, but I thought that it was unnecessarily inflammatory.)

The article is perhaps not as "grandma-ready" as it could be--it could use some editing for accessibility--but it does a good job of deconstructing the most common contentions of ID advocates.
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material with negative index of refraction: http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/12/18/207253

(To be honest, I don't remember what the implications of this would be, and the article is unhelpful in this regard--informed geeks, feel free to refresh my memory. :) But it's clear that it's weird.)

universe may be small, finite, and shaped like a soccer ball?: http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/12/17/0150223

deconstructing the physics of Buckaroo Banzai (and it's more complimentary than you might expect): http://www.geekazon.com/banzai/index.html


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