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Monday, April 28, 2003
why do some societies make disastrous decisions? by jared diamond! (via slashdot)(:

what a world! by freeman dyson :)(via robotwisdom)

[:: comment! :]

Saturday, April 19, 2003
rumsfeld (via sassafrass)

I mean, you look at dictatorships and basically, they get up in the morning and the single most important thing is not looking out for their people, it's how do we preserve the regime. How do we continue our ability to control everything and repress everyone and control the press and deny freedom of religion and enlarge our prisons and force people, in the case of other countries, to live on subsistence food. I don't get it.

relativity (via ghost rocket)

Unlike many of Escher's other "impossible" pictures (like "Ascending and Descending") , there is actually no optical illusion involved here. Gravity seems to be working in three different directions simultaneously, but the picture shows a perfectly self-consistent physical scene. So modelling it should certainly be feasible. But while Escher's picture has three different "up"s, LEGO isn't quite so flexible...

[:: comment! :]

Wednesday, April 16, 2003
hey :D uh, not really up to much; helped build a house today and bent a lot of nails! there were some kids there who were in for creating an explosion on school property, something about toilet bowl cleaner and aluminum :D taking a lot of allergy medication; have discovered an allergy cocktail! been trolling the reason.com messageboards :D that's about it!

oh and harriet's running around :D she's been pretty active since i moved her upstairs. there's a guy singing the rose on this CCF commercial now. oh and i haven't really seen anything that great this year, except CITY OF GOD! also the new califone album is really good and it kinda sucks that jeremiah green has left modest mouse.

[:: comment! :]

Sunday, April 13, 2003
MIKE.JPG :D (via sensibleerection)

HARRRRRR! (via sensibleerection)

[:: comment! :]

Thursday, April 10, 2003
missing matter simulated

Dr Ma simulated, in great detail, large amounts of dark matter. She did it by breaking her computer “universe” into grains, in the way that a weather-forecasting program breaks the atmosphere into cells. The grains (or cells) are treated as homogenous units that interact with one another, so the accuracy of a model depends, among other things, on having cells that are as small as possible. Dark-matter simulations have been done in the past, but because sufficient computing power has not been available until recently, these earlier simulations had grains that were the size of thousands of galaxies. This, it turns out, means that they were not merely insufficiently detailed, but just plain wrong.

Dr Ma had a grain size that was as small as millions of times the size of the sun. When you are simulating the entire universe, this is quite small. She set the conditions in her model to simulate those thought to have pertained just after the Big Bang, pressed the “start” button, and let things evolve.

cell quorum sensed

The notion that microbes have anything to say to each other is surprisingly new. For more than a century, bacterial cells were regarded as single-minded opportunists, little more than efficient machines for self-replication. Flourishing in plant and animal tissue, in volcanic vents and polar ice, thriving on gasoline additives and radiation, they were supremely adaptive, but their lives seemed, well, boring. The "sole ambition" of a bacterium, wrote geneticist François Jacob in 1973, is "to produce two bacteria."

New research suggests, however, that microbial life is much richer: highly social, intricately networked, and teeming with interactions. Bassler and other researchers have determined that bacteria communicate using molecules comparable to pheromones. By tapping into this cell-to-cell network, microbes are able to collectively track changes in their environment, conspire with their own species, build mutually beneficial alliances with other types of bacteria, gain advantages over competitors, and communicate with their hosts - the sort of collective strategizing typically ascribed to bees, ants, and people, not to bacteria.

[:: comment! :]

Monday, April 7, 2003
complexity digest (via missingmatter)

the emerging mind (via boingboing)

[:: comment! :]

Friday, April 4, 2003
THEORIES OF THE BRANE: LISA RANDALL

We don't yet know what that theory is, but much of current particle physics research, including that involving extra dimensions of space, attempts to discover it. Such speculations will soon be explored at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, which will operate at the TeV energies relevant to particle physics. The results of experiments to be performed there should select among the various proposals for the underlying physical description in concrete and immediate ways. If the underlying theory turns out to be either supersymmetry or one of the extra dimension theories I will go on to describe, it will have deep and lasting implications for our conception of the universe.

LOOP QUANTUM GRAVITY: LEE SMOLIN

So Gambini, Pullin, and others calculated how light travels in a quantum geometry and found that the theory predicts that the speed of light has a small dependence on energy. Photons of higher energy travel slightly slower than low-energy photons. The effect is very small, but it amplifies over time. Two photons produced by a gamma-ray burst 10 billion years ago, one redder and one bluer, should arrive on Earth at slightly different times. The time delay predicted by the theory is large enough to be detectable by a new gamma-ray observatory called GLAST (for Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope), which is scheduled for launch into orbit in 2006. We very much look forward to the announcement of the results, as they will be testing a prediction of a quantum theory of gravity.

[:: comment! :]

Tuesday, April 1, 2003
Six Degrees: The Science Of A Connected Age by Duncan J. Watts

When crickets chirp, they tend to synchronize, such that their oscillating cycles phase together and evolve into shared patterns. The resulting sound can easily be heard and verified, but tracing the effect back to its cause is a murky process, since no single cricket can be identified as the decisive pacesetter. Instead, groups of similarly timed chirps from different crickets link up coincidentally, and when the conjoined noises accumulate enough volume, others begin following the swelling pattern.

Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order by Steven Strogatz

Order is all around us, and scientists in diverse disciplines are constantly uncovering new examples of it. But Strogatz and his colleagues make a far more extraordinary claim: Order is not just possible, it is inevitable. In 1989 Strogatz, along with Boston College mathematician Rennie Mirollo, proved mathematically that any system of "coupled oscillators" -- that is, entities capable of responding to each other's signals, be they crickets, electrons or celestial bodies -- will spontaneously self-organize.

[:: comment! :]

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