Tag Archives | Science

The Devastating Stereotype of the Artless Scientist

Still from The Imitation Game. Copyright StudioCanal and The Weinstein Company.

Still from The Imitation Game. Copyright StudioCanal and The Weinstein Company.

via Medium.com:

This article contains minor spoilers for the plots of The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything, The Social Network, and A Beautiful Mind. Also containing these spoilers: history.

The “genius-as-asshole” stereotype has become the modern day equivalent of the “genius-as-madman” stereotype put forth by films like A Beautiful Mind. In The Social Network, Mark Zuckerberg is shown as an asshole with little regard for his closest friends and an obsession over a girl he dated once; again, reality doesn’t actually mirror this, but it makes for a good story.

Biopics are always going to compact and contort history to make it into a compelling 90-minute tale. I don’t actually have a problem with this in and of itself, and like I said, I enjoyed most of these films (I haven’t seen The Theory of Everything and have no interest in seeing it).

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The Philosophy of Time

times-square1938

Times Square, NYC. January 1938

Have you ever wondered what is meant by a moment in time? To capture a moment in time we have to combine slices upon slices of infinitesimal imaginary finites. To get to a moment we will remember there has to have once been a now! What, after all, is “NOW” or “real time,” and how long does it last? I’m talking about right now. Well, by the time that you get to the end of this sentence, it will already be in the past. I mean it’s easy to imagine past, or future, but “now” (this moment) lasts how long? Does it last a second? To me it’s like that needle on a record or the laser on a DVD. The record is your life and the needle is where your consciousness of now is at any given time. The rest of the record has either played or it hasn’t, but the needle is constantly moving.… Read the rest

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Animated Life: Pangea (The Story of Alfred Wegener)

This animated documentary by Flora Lichtman and Sharon Shattuck tells the story of polar explorer Alfred Wegener, the unlikely scientist behind continental drift theory.

Alfred Wegener.jpg

Alfred Wegener in 1925

Lichtman and Shattuck have written some text to accompany the film at the New York Times:

Just as biology tells us about the origin of life, geology tells how our physical world came to be. The field explains how the mountains and rivers, oceans and shores were born. Surprisingly, one of the first people to propose one of the most important theories in geology, continental drift — the idea that the continents were once pressed together and have since drifted apart — wasn’t a geologist at all.

In this film, we celebrate Alfred Wegener, who studied astronomy, worked as an atmospheric physicist, and seemed happiest exploring Greenland on grueling multiyear expeditions. How did someone with no training in geology come up with a theory that is now central to earth science?

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Frank Drake thinks it’s silly to send messages to ET

Raphael Perrino (CC BY 2.0)

Raphael Perrino (CC BY 2.0)

Via Kiki Sanford at BoingBoing:

Making contact with aliens: the subject of many a sci-fi story, and a variety of imagined outcomes. Though no one knows what will happen if we encounter intelligent extra-terrestrial life, scientists are dividd on how we should proceed.

SETI, the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, has been searching for signals from said ETs for many years with no positive results. Of course, there have been interesting signals, but nothing specifically indicative of intelligence.

Scientists from SETI are turning up the volume on a debate that has been raging for several years over whether we should start actively transmitting messages into outer space rather than continuing to passively scan the skies while only leaking weak radiation from our surface activities on the planet. In a press conference at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Jose this week, Douglas Vakoch presented the question, and stated that beginning to transmit in an active, directed fashion would be part of humanity “growing up”.

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In 10 Years Solar and Wind Power Will Be the Cheapest Forms of Energy in Northeast Asia

Intel Free Press (CC BY 2.0)

Intel Free Press (CC BY 2.0)

Via Lappeenranta University of Technology:

A new study demonstrates that an energy system based completely on renewable forms of energy will be economically viable in the future. Research done at Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) shows that it will be worthwhile for North-East Asia, and China in particular, to switch to a completely renewable energy system within 5–10 years. According to the Neo-Carbon Energy project, which conducted the research, the price of solar electricity will drop by half by 2025−2030.

Completed at the end of last year, the study concluded that within ten years solar and wind power will be the cheapest forms of energy production for Asia’s largest energy markets. According to LUT Professor of Solar Economy Christian Breyer, this is because renewable energy is the cheapest way of producing energy in Asia.

Economic viability has been one of the challenges of making the transition to renewable energy sources and doing so on the terms of the market.

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Universe is 13.77 billion years old and it contains only 4.9% ordinary matter, says Planck data

Polarisation of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) as revealed by ESA's Planck data mapsESA - collaboration, Planck/E. Hivon/CNRS

Polarisation of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) as revealed by ESA’s Planck data maps
ESA – collaboration, Planck/E. Hivon/CNRS

Jayalakshmi K. via International Business Times:

The high precision Planck data just released has placed the age of the universe at 13.77 billion years, besides showing that the first stars were born 550 million years after the Big Bang.

Data from four years of observation by ESA’s spacecraft shows 4.9% of the Universe to be made of ordinary matter, 25.9% dark matter and 69.2% dark, unknown energy.

The researchers calculate the current rate at which space is expanding to give the age of the universe.

The Planck collaboration, which includes the CNRS, the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), the French National Space Agency (CNES) and several French universities and institutions, aimed to study the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), the light left over from the Big Bang.

The Planck measurements, taken in nine frequency bands, were used to map not only the temperature of radiation but also its polarisation providing information about both the very early Universe (when it was 380,000 years old) and our Galaxy’s magnetic field.

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Digital Reality

…Today, you can send a design to a fab lab and you need ten different machines to turn the data into something. Twenty years from now, all of that will be in one machine that fits in your pocket. This is the sense in which it doesn’t matter. You can do it today. How it works today isn’t how it’s going to work in the future but you don’t need to wait twenty years for it. Anybody can make almost anything almost anywhere.

…Finally, when I could own all these machines I got that the Renaissance was when the liberal arts emerged—liberal for liberation, humanism, the trivium and the quadrivium—and those were a path to liberation, they were the means of expression. That’s the moment when art diverged from artisans. And there were the illiberal arts that were for commercial gain. … We’ve been living with this notion that making stuff is an illiberal art for commercial gain and it’s not part of means of expression.Read the rest

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Creating love in the lab: The 36 questions that spark intimacy

zhouxuan12345678 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

zhouxuan12345678 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Yasmin Anwar via Phys.org:

Around the time of the Summer of Love in 1967, Arthur Aron, then a UC Berkeley graduate student in psychology, kissed fellow student Elaine Spaulding in front of Dwinelle Hall. What they felt at that moment was so profound that they soon married and teamed up to investigate the mysteries of attraction and intimacy.

“I fell in love very intensely,” said Aron, a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley and research professor at Stony Brook University in New York. “Given that I was studying social psychology, just for fun I looked for the research on love, but there was almost none.”

So he took it on. In the nearly 50 years that Arthur and Elaine Aron have studied love, they have developed three dozen to create closeness in a lab setting. The result is not unlike the accelerated that can happen between strangers on an airplane or other close quarters.

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Meet the people who have volunteered to die on Mars


Walker Lamond via BoingBoing:

Thousands of people are competing to be the first humans to travel to Mars and colonize it. The only catch–they can never come back. Ever.

Mars One, an interplanetary travel nonprofit, will soon select the next round of wannabe astronauts from the nearly 700 current finalists. While making a short movie about the competition for The Guardian, we at Stateless Media had a chance to speak to a few people vying for one of the coveted seats on a Mars One Spaceship. I learned the following: they are all really smart, incredibly brave, and a little bit crazy.

Actually, they’re a lot of bit crazy. And that’s a good thing. Because it takes a certain kind of person to choose to live the rest of their lives stranded on a desert planet with no breathable air, no Netflix, no Snapchat, no Game of Thrones, no General Tso’s Chicken, and no long, romantic walks on the beach.

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Man’s Best Robot Friend: Spot the Robot

Some friend these guys are! Kickin’ the poor robot like that.

I also love Spot’s little trot.

YouTube Description:

Spot is a four-legged robot designed for indoor and outdoor operation. It is electrically powered and hydraulically actuated. Spot has a sensor head that helps it navigate and negotiate rough terrain. Spot weighs about 160 lbs.

 

h/t The Awesomer.

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