Why yes, I do believe I will be showing my daughter the cool videos from AuroraMax. Nice to see (a tiny, tiny slice of) my tax dollars at work for something cool.
One the great myths–in the sense of “stories we tell ourselves to understand the world”, not in the sense of “lie to be disproven”–of the Internet is how connectivity and open access to data enables all kinds of things to happen. One of the great myths of science is that sharing data allows for the pool of knowledge to continue… Read more →
So, did you see that recent paper in Evolution and Human Behaviour1 about the different ways that men and women evaluate attractiveness in potential long- and short- term partners? You’d remember the title: “More than just a pretty face“. If you didn’t, or don’t want to follow the link, here’s the abstract: Studies of physical attractiveness have long emphasized the… Read more →
What you’re looking at there is a “mandelbulb“, a ray-traced rendering of a 3-D variant of the equation that generates the 2-D Mandelbrot set. The image you see in the post is a tiny one, 400×400, which pops up a larger 800×800 one when clicked. Both of these are just reductions of the 4500×4500 pixel version. I have a distinct… Read more →
I was just having a conversation on Friday with someone about a bunch of Google employees who had ordered up a ridiculous amount of silly putty so they could do an experiment with dropping it from a great height. As someone educated in a faculty of engineering, this made tremendous sense to me: I’ve done my own experiments with various… Read more →
I am very, very pleased by the news that the entire Bletchley Park archive–millions of documents–are going to be digitized over the next few years. While I suspect the vast, vast majority of the documents won’t be of interest to me at an individual level, it will be a wonderful resource for researchers, and hobbyists. (And make no mistake, the fact that people all over the world will have access to the archive electronically dramatically alters the potential for both researchers and hobbyists to actually do that.) And those people will comb through the digital information to extract things–both individual documents, and aggregate results–that I would be very interested in. Generally speaking, I’m in favour of digitizing almost every document store, but as a long time cryptogeek, I’ve got a special place in my heart for Bletchley’s history.
“I feel sure of only one conclusion. The ability to design and create new forms of life marks a turning-point in the history of our species and our planet.” If you haven’t read this yet, read it. I’m going to need some time to take this all in, but I’m going to have to go along with Dyson on the… Read more →
If you’re a night owl, you probably don’t need me to do anything more than show the chart, and this link: Why Night Owls Are More Intelligent than Morning Larks (If you’re a morning person, find someone who likes the night to explain it to you.) I believe I shall now go to bed and sleep in until after 11. Read more →
Did you see the story about the researchers who are growing computer brains out of organic material? And not just that, but massively parallel computers. Oh, and just for fun, they’ve also ditched that whole binary concept, skipped over trinary, and moved the whole thing on to quaternary logic. If you’re not lucky enough to have access to journals1, you… Read more →
Since I was just talking about scale and space in the comments, I thought I should also pop in this little number I saw today on the site of absolutely-damn-great SF writer Walter Jon Williams. (If it were me, I would have worked O Fortuna into the soundtrack–but then, if it were me it wouldn’t look nearly as good as… Read more →
What you’re looking at there is something called The Local Cavity–although in this case “local” takes on a meaning somewhat larger than in typical conversation. It’s essentially a 300-light-year in diameter hole in space. Maybe ‘hole’ is stretching it a bit, since it’s not so much that it’s empty, as that it’s WAY less full than the average across the… Read more →
That’s an image from the “Blood Falls”, a five-story, blood-red waterfall that pours very slowly–the falls are frozen, and so flow slowy–out of the Taylor Glacier in Antarctica’s McMurdo Dry Valleys. That multi-coloured bump in the lower left is a tent, if that helps you get an idea of scale The falls were first observed around a hundred years ago,… Read more →
If these are really the 10 most absurd scientific papers from last year then published hard science has nothing, absurditywise, on published humanities. (I’d actually be interested in reading the results of “Are full or empty beer bottles sturdier and does their fracture-threshold suffice to break the human skull?”)
Very busy this week on birthday-related activities. Regular schedule to resume soon. In the meantime, here are a couple of cool simulations to play with, since that seems to be something I’m interested in this week. First, a physics tool to simulate cloth as a grid of constrained points. Second, a quite cool fire simulation–I especially like making words and images out of wood and then setting them ablaze.