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刘擎:2018西方思想年度述评(观念/文化篇:自由主义之死与智识争论复兴)
【編者按】本文為華東師範大學劉擎教授自2003年起所撰之「西方思想年度述評」系列第16年作品下篇,首發於《騰訊·大家》欄目,略去部分內容和全部文獻註釋。完整印刷版將在《學海》雜誌發表。端傳媒經作者及《騰訊·大家》授權刊發,以饗讀者。

令人憂慮的是「自由主義造就了現代世界,但現代世界正在背離自由主義」。如果要復興自由主義的活力,必須反省它失去活力的多種成因。在社會經濟方面,需要反省自由主義崇尚的「優績制」(meritocracy)競爭對造成貧富差別與社會固化的影響。在文化方面,檢討「身份政治」的局限,在正當回應族群歧視的過程中,沒有防止它演變為「宗派憤怒」的傾向。在國際與地緣政治方面,自由派也沒有足夠的智慧和勇氣來捍衞「二戰」後形成的同盟和自由制度體系。在政治上,當政的自由派已經變得越來越保守,傾向於維持現狀,而完全忘記了自由主義最初的激進立場。

沃森的觀點可能在政治上不正確,但如果在科學上是真實的呢?難道科學真理應當屈從於政治正確的管制嗎?

回應這種鏗鏘有力的質疑其實並不困難,而且可以斬釘截鐵:沃森的這種觀點首先在科學上錯誤的(雖然他是一位科學大師),因為在生物學意義上,「種族」類別(白人、黑人、黃種人等)並不存在,這早已是學術界的普遍共識。

社會生活中使用的種族分類,是文化和政治塑造的概念(所謂「社會建構」),並不具有對應的生物學依據。這是目前生物學和人類學界的主流觀點,已經有大量的研究證據支持,也有許多相關的科普作品傳播。

萊克認為不應當迴避研究不同人群(populations)之間的遺傳差異。他明確反對一種流行的誤解:由於人類來自共同的祖先,人群相互分離的時間不久,不足以在自然選擇壓力下形成重要的遺傳差異。「但這不是事實」,他指出「東亞人、歐洲人、西非人和澳大利亞人的祖先(直到最近為止)幾乎完全相互隔絕了4萬年或更長的時間,足以讓進化力量發生作用」。人群之間的遺傳差異不僅客觀存在,而且會影響某些遺傳疾病、特定的身體性狀甚至行為和認知能力在人群之間的概率性差異。

研究人群遺傳差異是一把雙刃劍:在很多情況下它會揭露「種族」概念的虛假性,瓦解絕大多數的刻板印象,但遺傳學的發現也有可能會確證某些刻板印象。在這種情況下,科學發現的隻言片語會被某些願意信奉種族主義觀點的人用來證明自己正確。恰恰因為存在這種可能性,萊克才要在文章中直面這個問題。

美國大學招生同樣以「擇優錄取」為主要原則,反映了美國的「優績制」(meritocracy)的價值取向,但其公平原則也包含對弱勢群體的「補償正義」觀念,突出體現於「平權法案」(Affirmative Action,又譯作「肯定性措施」)。此外,還會兼顧「文化多樣性」的目標,可能會考慮校園的「族裔平衡」(racial balancing)。擇優錄取、補償正義和文化多樣性,這三重維度之間存在張力,每個大學有自己側重與應對策略。
summary  read  2018  west  intelligentsia  journalism  liberalism  opinion  race  usa  debate  polemic  university  elite  policy  scientist 
february 2019 by aries1988
How Do You Take a Picture of a Black Hole? With a Telescope as Big as the Earth - The New York Times
near the core, that fog forms a great glowing Frisbee that rotates around a vast dark sphere. This is the supermassive black hole at the core of the Milky Way, the still point of our slowly rotating galaxy. We call it Sagittarius A*, that last bit pronounced “A-star.” The black hole itself is invisible, but it leaves a violent imprint on its environment, pulling surrounding objects into unlikely orbits and annihilating stars and clouds of gas that stray too close.

the inaugural run of the Event Horizon Telescope (E.H.T.), a virtual Earth-size observatory designed to take the first picture of a black hole. The E.H.T. uses a technique known as very long baseline interferometry (V.L.B.I.), in which astronomers at observatories on different continents simultaneously observe the same object, then combine the collected data on a supercomputer. The E.H.T.’s director, Shep Doeleman, a radio astronomer with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, likes to call the E.H.T. “the biggest telescope in the history of humanity.” It has the highest resolution of any astronomical instrument ever assembled. It’s sharp enough to read the date on a nickel in Los Angeles from New York, to spot a doughnut on the moon and, more to the point, to take a picture of the black hole at the center of our galaxy — or, at least, its shadow.

The effort to get that picture speaks well of our species: a bunch of people around the world defying international discord and general ascendant stupidity in unified pursuit of a gloriously esoteric goal. And in these dark days, it’s only fitting that the object of this pursuit is the darkest thing imaginable.

The physicist Werner Israel put it better when he described a black hole as “an elemental, self-sustaining gravitational field which has severed all causal connection with the material source that created it, and settled, like a soap bubble, into the simplest configuration consistent with the external constraints.”

what a black hole would look like if illuminated by the glow from the superheated matter swirling around it. He did his calculations by feeding punch cards into a primitive computer. He drew the results by hand. His black-and-white images looked like twisted depictions of a black Saturn, with a ringlike accretion disk warped like taffy.

That this shadow might be visible from Earth depended on an astonishing set of circumstances. Earth’s atmosphere happens to be transparent to the electromagnetic radiation — in this case, certain microwaves — shining from the edge of the black hole, even though it blocks radiation of slightly longer and shorter wavelengths. The interstellar gunk lying between Earth and the galactic center also becomes transparent at those frequencies, as do the clouds of superheated matter just outside the black hole, blocking a view of the event horizon. Later in life, Fulvio Melia compared this alignment to the cosmic accidents that give us total solar eclipses. The moon is just the right size, in just the right orbit, at just the right distance from Earth that now and then it blocks the sun entirely. Fulvio wasn’t religious, but these coincidences were so unlikely that he couldn’t help but feel that the black-hole shadow was meant to be seen. The universe had arranged for humans to see to the nearest exit.

it’s hard to reconcile two conflicting theories if you can’t find something wrong with either one, and quantum theory, like general relativity, has passed every test. As a result, scientists have been looking for ever-more-extreme situations in which to test these theories. That led them to black holes.

To avoid poisoning one another’s minds — so that no one could accidentally nudge another group into seeing a black-hole shadow that wasn’t really there — these groups worked in isolation, making images using different algorithms and techniques, trying hard to discredit anything that looked too sharp, too clean, too likely to be the product of wishful thinking.
telescope  astronomy  scientist  world  project  Physics  law  research  relativity  quantum 
october 2018 by aries1988
中国面壁者:西南大山深处的核九院年轻人_能见度_澎湃新闻-The Paper
中国面壁者:西南大山深处的核九院年轻人_能见度_澎湃新闻-The Paper 下载APP 进入原新闻 进入原话题 下载APP 去提问 / 下载APP 打开澎湃客户端提问 视频 时事 财经 思想 生活 上直播 @所有人 温度计 一级视场 World湃 湃客科技 围观 七环视频 大都会 追光灯 运动装 健寻记 城市漫步…
2018  scientist  chinese  state  propaganda  reportage  youth 
may 2018 by aries1988
We Know How You Feel
just as the increasing scarcity of oil has led to more exotic methods of recovery, the scarcity of attention, combined with a growing economy built around its exchange, has prompted R. & D. in the mining of consumer cognition. “What people in the industry are saying is ‘I need to get people’s attention in a shorter period of time,’ so they are trying to focus on capturing the intensity of it,” Teixeira explained. “People who are emotional are much more engaged. And because emotions are ‘memory markers’ they remember more. So the idea now is shifting to: how do we get people who are feeling these emotions?”
emotion  business  research  story  egypt  female  scientist  startup  robot  ai  future 
february 2018 by aries1988
Why post-sex cuddles and pillowtalk count for more than orgasm | Aeon Essays
As Martin Portner, a neurologist living in Brazil, wrote in Scientific American Mind in 2008, people need more than arousal to experience an orgasm: ‘It requires a release of inhibitions and control in which the brain’s centre of vigilance shuts down in males; in females, various areas of the brain involved in controlling thoughts and emotions become silent.’
brain  sex  couple  love  research  scientist 
november 2017 by aries1988
What Happens If China Makes First Contact?

Science fiction is sometimes described as a literature of the future, but historical allegory is one of its dominant modes. Isaac Asimov based his Foundation series on classical Rome, and Frank Herbert’s Dune borrows plot points from the past of the Bedouin Arabs. Liu is reluctant to make connections between his books and the real world, but he did tell me that his work is influenced by the history of Earth’s civilizations, “especially the encounters between more technologically advanced civilizations and the original settlers of a place.” One such encounter occurred during the 19th century, when the “Middle Kingdom” of China, around which all of Asia had once revolved, looked out to sea and saw the ships of Europe’s seafaring empires, whose ensuing invasion triggered a loss in status for China comparable to the fall of Rome.

Every so often, a Hans Zimmer bass note would sound, and the glass pane would fill up with the smooth, spaceship-white side of another train, whooshing by in the opposite direction at almost 200 miles an hour.

seti does share some traits with religion. It is motivated by deep human desires for connection and transcendence. It concerns itself with questions about human origins, about the raw creative power of nature, and about our future in this universe—and it does all this at a time when traditional religions have become unpersuasive to many.

China could rightly regard itself as the lone survivor of the great Bronze Age civilizations, a class that included the Babylonians, the Mycenaeans, and even the ancient Egyptians. Western poets came to regard the latter’s ruins as Ozymandian proof that nothing lasted. But China had lasted. Its emperors presided over the planet’s largest complex social organization. They commanded tribute payments from China’s neighbors, whose rulers sent envoys to Beijing to perform a baroque face-to-the-ground bowing ceremony for the emperors’ pleasure.
astronomy  seti  china  alien  chinese  project  state  scientist  scifi  technology  development  2017  future  human  discovery  history  Space  interview 
november 2017 by aries1988
Wolf Puppies Are Adorable. Then Comes the Call of the Wild.

As close as wolf and dog are — some scientists classify them as the same species — there are differences. Physically, wolves’ jaws are more powerful. They breed only once a year, not twice, as dogs do. And behaviorally, wolf handlers say, their predatory instincts are easily triggered compared to those of dogs. They are more independent and possessive of food or other items. Much research suggests they take more care of their young. And they never get close to that Labrador retriever I-love-all-humans level of friendliness. As much as popular dog trainers and pet food makers promote the inner wolf in our dogs, they are not the same.

Dog puppies will quickly attach to any human within reach. Even street dogs that have had some contact with people at the right time may still be friendly.

Some recent research has suggested that dog friendliness may be the result of something similar to Williams syndrome, a genetic disorder in humans that causes hyper-sociability, among other symptoms. People with the syndrome seem friendly to everyone, without the usual limits.

As I was emphatically told in a training session before going into an enclosure with adult wolves, the one thing you definitely do not do is look them in the eye.

whether a delay in social development in a dog’s early life could explain the difference between wolves and dogs

That’s very important, because both wolves and dogs go through a critical period as puppies when they explore the world and learn who their friends and family are.

With wolves, that time is thought to start at about two weeks, when the wolves are deaf and blind. Scent is everything.

In dogs, it starts at about four weeks, when they can see, smell and hear. Dr. Lord thinks this shift in development, allowing dogs to use all their senses, might be key to their greater ability to connect with human beings.

Perhaps with more senses in action, they are more able to generalize from tolerating individual humans with a specific scent to tolerating humans in general with a scent, sight and sound profile.

When the critical period ends, wolves, and to a lesser extent dogs, experience something like the onset of stranger anxiety in human babies, when people outside of the family suddenly become scary.
quebec  wolf  zoo  dog  biology  gene  animal  evolution  human  comparison  research  scientist  experiment  development  baby 
october 2017 by aries1988
On epigenetics: we need both Darwin’s and Lamarck’s theories | Aeon Essays
One problem with Darwin’s theory is that, while species do evolve more adaptive traits (called phenotypes by biologists), the rate of random DNA sequence mutation turns out to be too slow to explain many of the changes observed.

To quote the prominent evolutionary biologist Jonathan B L Bard, who was paraphrasing T S Eliot: ‘Between the phenotype and genotype falls the shadow.’

In evolution and biomedicine, the rates of phenotypic trait divergence is far more rapid than the rate of genetic variation and mutation – but why?

Waddington recognised the potential impact his discovery could have on the theory of evolution: the single-generation change in the fruit-fly wings were supportive of the original ideas of the heretic Lamarck. It appeared that the environment could directly impact traits.

the vast majority of environmental factors cannot directly alter the molecular sequence of DNA, they do regulate a host of epigenetic mechanisms that regulate how DNA functions – turning the expression of genes up or down, or dictating how proteins, the products of our genes, are expressed in cells.

Today, that is the precise definition of epigenetics: the molecular factors that regulate how DNA functions and what genes are turned on or off, independent of the DNA sequence itself.

epigenetic inheritance does not follow many of the Mendelian rules that apply to classic genetics and the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution. These rules hold that DNA sequences and genes function discretely, like particles; upon reproduction, the ‘particles’ from each parent unite at random with a matching pair from the other parent, leading to a new DNA sequence and new expression of inherited traits.

In conclusion, exposure to the fungicide permanently altered the descendant’s sperm epigenetics; that, in turn, led to inheritance of sexual selection characteristics known to reduce the frequency with which their genes might propagate in the broader population and directly influence evolution on a micro-evolutionary scale.
biology  evolution  theory  epigenetics  science  debate  scientist  history 
september 2017 by aries1988
The Kekulé Problem - Issue 47: Consciousness - Nautilus
I call it the Kekulé Problem because among the myriad instances of scientific problems solved in the sleep of the inquirer Kekulé’s is probably the best known. He was trying to arrive at the configuration of the benzene molecule and not making much progress when he fell asleep in front of the fire and had his famous dream of a snake coiled in a hoop with its tail in its mouth—the ouroboros of mythology—and woke exclaiming to himself: “It’s a ring. The molecule is in the form of a ring.” Well. The problem of course—not Kekulé’s but ours—is that since the unconscious understands language perfectly well or it would not understand the problem in the first place, why doesnt it simply answer Kekulé’s question with something like: “Kekulé, it’s a bloody ring.” To which our scientist might respond: “Okay. Got it. Thanks.”

Problems in general are often well posed in terms of language and language remains a handy tool for explaining them. But the actual process of thinking—in any discipline—is largely an unconscious affair. Language can be used to sum up some point at which one has arrived—a sort of milepost—so as to gain a fresh starting point. But if you believe that you actually use language in the solving of problems I wish that you would write to me and tell me how you go about it.
thinking  language  brain  linguist  scientist  dream  consciousness 
may 2017 by aries1988
The Woman Who Might Find Us Another Earth - The New York Times
Widowhood was like a new universe for Seager to explore. She had never understood many social norms. The celebration of birthdays, for instance. “I just don’t see the point,” she says. “Why would I want to celebrate my birthday? Why on earth would I even care?” She had also drawn a hard line against Christmas and its myths. “I never wanted my kids to believe in Santa.” After Wevrick’s death, she became even more of a satellite, developing a deeper intolerance for life’s ordinary concerns.
female  scientist  planet  life  story  research  discovery  family  couple 
december 2016 by aries1988
How science goes wrong | The Economist
Conversely, failures to prove a hypothesis are rarely even offered for publication, let alone accepted. “Negative results” now account for only 14% of published papers, down from 30% in 1990. Yet knowing what is false is as important to science as knowing what is true. The failure to report failures means that researchers waste money and effort exploring blind alleys already investigated by other scientists.
science  explained  crisis  truth  scientist  ethic 
november 2016 by aries1988
Man v rat: could the long war soon be over? | Jordan Kisner | Science | The Guardian
Why? How is it that we can send robots to Mars, build the internet, keep alive infants born so early that their skin isn’t even fully made – and yet remain unable to keep rats from threatening our food supplies, biting our babies, and appearing in our toilet bowls?

Rats have the same taste preferences as humans – they love fat and sugar – though Dyer’s experiments with various flavour profiles indicated that their appetite for both exceeds ours.
biology  animal  ecosystem  city  human  trash  food  scientist 
september 2016 by aries1988
The Search for 'Earth Proxima'
A short film about a team of scientists and their mission to build a powerful telescope to explore exoplanets.
science  scientist  astronomy  earth  planet  cosmos 
july 2016 by aries1988
Fish School Us on Wind Power - Issue 37: Currents - Nautilus
As an undergraduate, Dabiri modeled the undulating movements of jellyfish. A decade later, he was involved in the construction of a medusoid—a synthetic jellyfish made from elastic silicone and the heart cells of a rat—that swims just like a living jelly when a pulsating electric field is applied.5 During that time, Dabiri also became fascinated with another unorthodox combination: schooling fish and wind power.

Fish position themselves in a staggered formation in order to use the turbulence created by their neighbors to swim more efficiently.Courtesy of Robert Whittlesey

Dabiri and Whittlesey don’t know exactly why turbines packed into closely positioned pairs are the most efficient, but they have a couple of working theories.

allows the turbine pairs to be packed more closely together—only four diameters apart compared to a norm of 15 diameters for horizontal-axis wind turbines
cfd  wind  energy  design  science  scientist  aerodynamics  ocean  moi  wt  instapaper_favs 
july 2016 by aries1988
Why so much science research is flawed – and what to do about it
Some fields of research are less susceptible than others, though. In astronomy, chemistry and physics, for instance, people have a very strong tradition of sharing data, and of using common databases like big telescopes or high energy physical experiments, Ioannidis says. They are very cautious about making claims that eventually will be refuted. But in fields where such checks and balances are absent, irreproducible results are rife.
science  academia  data  debate  ethic  scientist 
april 2016 by aries1988
Dans le désert d’Atacama, l’Observatoire astronomique de Paranal - RFI
Au Chili, à 1200 km au Nord de Santiago, se trouve le VLT, le plus grand Observatoire astronomique européen, le plus grand Observatoire du monde appartenant à une seule organisation, l’ESO. En plein désert d’Atacama,...
astro  scientist  story  latino 
january 2016 by aries1988
Ishihara Homepage
I was born in 1962 in Beijing and graduated from Tsinghua University, China. Later I earned Master's and a PhD of Civil Engineering in the Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan. I subsequently joined Institute of Technology, Shimizu Co. Ltd. as a researcher in 1992 and was engaged in environmental engineering and the wind resistant design of high rise buildings and development of respective technologies. I was appointed associate professor of Department of Civil Engineering at The University of Tokyo in 2000, moved to Institute of Engineering Innovation as associate professor in 2004 and was then promoted to full professor in Department of Civil Engineering in 2008. My research focus is in the field of wind resistant design and wind energy. I am best known for wind resource assessment, wind power forecasting, wind resistant design of wind turbine support structure and development of the floating offshore wind turbine system. Recently I was engaged in research projects such as “Short and long term environmental conditions forecasting for a safe and reliable society”, “Wind power forecasting based on meteorological models”, “Study on floating offshore wind turbine systems”and “Research and development of offshore wind power generation technology”.
cfd  eolien  scientist 
january 2016 by aries1988
The Space Doctor’s Big Idea - The New Yorker
There once was a doctor with cool white hair. He was well known because he came up with some important ideas. He didn’t grow the cool hair until after he was done figuring that stuff out, but by the time everyone realized how good his ideas were, he had grown the hair, so that’s how everyone pictures him. He was so good at coming up with ideas that we use his name to mean “someone who’s good at thinking.”
Physics  scientist  story  explained 
november 2015 by aries1988
Dans le désert d’Atacama, l’Observatoire astronomique de Paranal - RFI
Au Chili, à 1200 km au Nord de Santiago, se trouve le VLT, le plus grand Observatoire astronomique européen, le plus grand Observatoire du monde appartenant à une seule organisation, l’ESO. En plein désert d’Atacama,...
chili  astronomy  scientist  life  desert  reportage 
november 2015 by aries1988
Man of the world
Why a Prussian scientific visionary should be studied afresh
nature  scientist  deutsch  biology  idea  earth 
november 2015 by aries1988
Oliver Sacks, Neurologist Who Wrote About the Brain’s Quirks, Dies at 82
“The thousand and one questions I asked as a child,” he wrote, “were seldom met by impatient or peremptory answers, but careful ones which enthralled me (though they were often above my head). I was encouraged from the start to interrogate, to investigate.”
obituary  scientist  popscience  brain 
september 2015 by aries1988
Science Isn’t Broken
Instead, you can think of the p-value as an index of surprise. How surprising would these results be if you assumed your hypothesis was false?

Researchers often make these calls as they go, and often there’s no obviously correct way to proceed, which makes it tempting to try different things until you get the result you’re looking for.

They’re just falling prey to natural human biases that lead them to tip the scales and set up studies to produce false-positive results.

What makes science so powerful is that it’s self-correcting — sure, false findings get published, but eventually new studies come along to overturn them, and the truth is revealed. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.

Science is not a magic wand that turns everything it touches to truth. Instead, science operates as a procedure of uncertainty reduction, said Nosek, of the Center for Open Science. The goal is to get less wrong over time. This concept is fundamental — whatever we know now is only our best approximation of the truth. We can never presume to have everything right.

As a society, our stories about how science works are also prone to error. The standard way of thinking about the scientific method is: ask a question, do a study, get an answer. But this notion is vastly oversimplified. A more common path to truth looks like this: ask a question, do a study, get a partial or ambiguous answer, then do another study, and then do another to keep testing potential hypotheses and homing in on a more complete answer. Human fallibilities send the scientific process hurtling in fits, starts and misdirections instead of in a straight line from question to truth.

The uncertainty inherent in science doesn’t mean that we can’t use it to make important policies or decisions. It just means that we should remain cautious and adopt a mindset that’s open to changing course if new data arises. We should make the best decisions we can with the current evidence and take care not to lose sight of its strength and degree of certainty.
science  scientist  opinion  research  mind  human  people  truth  instapaper_favs 
august 2015 by aries1988
It Is, in Fact, Rocket Science - NYTimes.com
The myth of the finches obscures the qualities that were really responsible for Darwin’s success: the grit to formulate his theory and gather evidence for it; the creativity to seek signs of evolution in existing animals, rather than, as others did, in the fossil record; and the open-mindedness to drop his belief in creationism when the evidence against it piled up.

Of the tale of Newton and the apple, the historian Richard S. Westfall wrote, “The story vulgarizes universal gravitation by treating it as a bright idea ... A bright idea cannot shape a scientific tradition.” Science is just not that simple and it is not that easy.

Even if we are not scientists, every day we are challenged to make judgments and decisions about technical matters like vaccinations, financial investments, diet supplements and, of course, global warming. If our discourse on such topics is to be intelligent and productive, we need to dip below the surface and grapple with the complex underlying issues. The myths can seduce one into believing there is an easier path, one that doesn’t require such hard work.

But even beyond issues of science, there is a broader lesson to learn, and that was the crux of my reply to my daughter. We all run into difficult problems in life, and we will be happier and more successful if we appreciate that the answers often aren’t quick, or easy.
scientist  science  opinion  story  fiction  truth 
may 2015 by aries1988
HOW EDDIE REDMAYNE DID IT
Over the next 12 hours, this man, who has never had a day’s acting training, will play the theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking. First, in the morning, as a healthy young man in 1963, before his diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease (MND); then, after lunch, walking with two sticks in the late 1960s; and finally, probably by late afternoon, in a wheelchair, in the late 1980s. The scenes all share the same location, St John’s College. Shooting them on the same day will save money, so never mind the chronology, or the leading man’s sanity.

As he often does when discussing his work, Redmayne slips into the second person. “So the thing that gets you out of bed at the crack of dawn is the knowledge that you’re going to be judged for it, in front of an audience. It is a great driving factor, the stakes being high.”

He flips it open. “So he starts by talking about a tower of tortoises, and then moves into a discussion about Ancient Greece, and I was like, OK, I get this, I’m on to this, maybe there’s a chance I’m going to understand how the universe works!” He turns a few more pages. “And somewhere between page 21 and page 25 I completely lost it.”

As Redmayne tears into his pizza I notice that his face looks different, in a way that’s hard to quite pinpoint. He reaches a freckled hand up to his right cheek and explains there are now muscles there that have developed since he started working on Hawking’s facial movements and tics, his lopsided grin and his gurn.

And yet. We all know that, at their best, theatre and cinema do matter. “When approached honestly and simply, the craft of acting has the ability to change lives,” Michael Grandage says. “Eddie is someone who would never say that out loud, but he is up there with a very few actors who understand the power of simplicity and trust themselves to be that honest and that simple. Where others are making all sorts of complicated choices, he will cut through everything and give you a moment of honesty that can take your breath away.”
actor  scientist  passion  detail 
march 2015 by aries1988
What pushes scientists to lie? The disturbing but familiar story of Haruko Obokata
Apart from outright fraud, there are all those “benevolent mistakes” that scientists make more or less unwittingly: poor experiment design, sloppy data management, bias in the interpretation of facts and inadequate communication of results and methods. Then, of course, there is the devilish complexity of reality itself, which withholds more than it reveals to the prying eyes of science.
scientist  ethic  research  analysis 
february 2015 by aries1988
The Theory of Everything — film review - FT.com
James Marsh’s biopic tells us little about Stephen Hawking that we didn’t already know.
movie  scientist  critic 
january 2015 by aries1988
Prehistory’s Brilliant Future
Spectacular dinosaur finds represent just a fraction of what the fossil record has to tell us.

New findings accumulate like Olympic records. Here we are, in the age of the microchip and the Mars explorer, and yet some of our most exciting and extraordinary scientific discoveries are extinct species in Earth’s fossil record.

The 1.8 million species of living organisms so far identified and named are but a fraction of the totality of life on Earth. Thanks to the fossil record, incomplete though it is, we can estimate that more than 99 percent of all species that ever lived are extinct. In a deep sense, our understanding of the future of evolution is rooted in the past.

Just 50,000 years ago — a blink of an eye in the deep time of paleontology — there were at least three, and maybe four, species of the human lineages cohabiting on this planet. Yet within that span of time, only our own species made it through the evolutionary sieve.
scientist  dinosaur  story  biology 
november 2014 by aries1988
What Wikipedia Taught Me About My Grandfather
On June 6, 1989, my grandfather looked at me and lifted his spoon. Between us was a bowl of lightly sugared fruit. He took a breath, stared down the 9-year-old…
story  scientist  family  wikipedia 
november 2014 by aries1988
Sciences en marche joue de la tête et des jambes
« Au fond, on n’a pas de revendication précise, on va sur la route, on parle aux gens, on leur dit que la France n’a pas de vision stratégique sur la recherche fondamentale. En général, ils comprennent très bien », déclare Patrick Lemaire.
science  reportage  france  academia  manif  crisis  scientist 
november 2014 by aries1988
Joel Lebowitz, la physique de l’engagement
Que se passe-t-il à l’intérieur d’un échantillon de cet objet, si une de ses extrémités est chauffée et l’autre mise dans la glace d’un seau à champagne ? La réponse n’est toujours pas connue, mais elle illustre l’une des motivations de cet éternel chercheur, toujours très actif. Comment expliquer les effets macroscopiques de la matière à partir de ces composants microscopiques ? Comment décrire les systèmes qui ne sont pas à l’équilibre thermodynamique ? Ou, dans le cas présent, peut-on déduire l’équation de propagation de la chaleur, connue depuis Fourier au XIXe siècle, d’après le comportement des particules élémentaires à l’intérieur de l’échantillon ?

Il raconte aussi qu’un collègue physicien, pour la 100e conférence Rutgers, a proposé de baptiser une nouvelle unité du nom de « Joel », comme il y a des ampères ou des volts. Ce serait l’unité de travail d’un chercheur.
scientist  Physics  materiaux  american  france  research  work 
november 2014 by aries1988
我们为什么学科学
这时Neil就拿捏到了另一个主流观念的不同,亚洲的主导思想是,事业成功的衡量标准是利益,只有金钱上回报高的工作才被称为事业。在美国的观念,虽然存在许多追求金钱回报的人,但是人们普遍认为事业可以是做任何事情,教书也好,做研究也好(即便不能成为知名科学家),做个街头音乐家也好,只要你做的喜欢做的好,挣不挣钱不影响称之为事业。
在一个采访中,媒体问到,我们为什么要学科学。以下是Neil的回答:
“科学给予我们发现真理的工具,以及辩证思维的能力。并不是每个人都会成为、希望成为科学家。但是有了质疑的能力,我们才不会被轻易欺骗,不被蒙蔽,不被摆弄。每个人作为一个独立个体,科学赋予我们思想的独立。”
20来家媒体单独采访,必然会有重复的问题,Neil不厌其烦,每次都回答的认真、真诚。有人问他教育中这种无尽头的反复,他不会觉得厌烦么,他说很简单啊,稍微换位思考一下,虽然这是我第无数次说了,但是对于听众来讲,这是他们第一次听到,我当然要为他们解释清楚。所以Neil从来没有架子。
scientist  interview 
october 2014 by aries1988
南方周末 - 【2014诺贝尔·科学】无人相信的发明
在很长一段时间内,没有人相信一个小人物和一家小公司攻克了许多大公司和知名实验室都没有解决的难题。这样的尴尬时刻在中村修二的职业生涯中时常出现。

中村也是由直觉驱动的一个人。用法索的话说,“他是一个天才”。“也许你知道,中村在德岛大学学习的时候,那所大学是没有物理系的,所以中村并没有全面学习物理学,但还得了诺贝尔奖!”法索对南方周末记者说,“我是一名物理学家,我在大学里接受的物理学训练一直到博士学位,我能告诉你的就是,中村对物理学具有深刻的理解,但他完全是靠自学而来的!”
scientist  japanese 
october 2014 by aries1988
‘Animated Life: Seeing the Invisible’
This animated documentary celebrates the 17th-century citizen scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, whose discovery of microbes would change our view of the…
animal  biology  discovery  netherlands  scientist  moment  history 
october 2014 by aries1988
The Odds, Continually Updated - NYTimes.com
By contrast, Bayesian calculations go straight for the probability of the hypothesis, factoring in not just the data from the coin-toss experiment but any other relevant information — including whether you’ve previously seen your friend use a weighted coin.

Scientists who have learned Bayesian statistics often marvel that it propels them through a different kind of scientific reasoning than they’d experienced using classical methods.

“Statistics sounds like this dry, technical subject, but it draws on deep philosophical debates about the nature of reality,” said the Princeton University astrophysicist Edwin Turner, who has witnessed a widespread conversion to Bayesian thinking in his field over the last 15 years.

One downside of Bayesian statistics is that it requires prior information — and often scientists need to start with a guess or estimate. Assigning numbers to subjective judgments is “like fingernails on a chalkboard,” said physicist Kyle Cranmer, who helped develop a frequentist technique to identify the latest new subatomic particle — the Higgs boson.

A famously counterintuitive puzzle that lends itself to a Bayesian approach is the Monty Hall problem, in which Mr. Hall, longtime host of the game show “Let’s Make a Deal,” hides a car behind one of three doors and a goat behind each of the other two. The contestant picks Door No. 1, but before opening it, Mr. Hall opens Door No. 2 to reveal a goat. Should the contestant stick with No. 1 or switch to No. 3, or does it matter?

A Bayesian calculation would start with one-third odds that any given door hides the car, then update that knowledge with the new data: Door No. 2 had a goat. The odds that the contestant guessed right — that the car is behind No. 1 — remain one in three. Thus, the odds that she guessed wrong are two in three. And if she guessed wrong, the car must be behind Door No. 3. So she should indeed switch.
explained  statistics  science  scientist  today 
october 2014 by aries1988
‘Hi! I’m Fang!’ The Man Who Changed China by Perry Link | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books
But Fang observed that demands for liberalization had risen in the 1956 Hundred Flowers movement, in the 1979 Democracy Wall movement, and again in 1989—and each time the protesters began anew. No group knew the history of protest in its own country or about the progress that predecessors had made. This was, Fang argued, because the Communist Party of China has a program for erasing the memory of protest, and it works. They were now applying it again, and it would likely work again. Indeed, many young Chinese today have only vague notions that something happened in 1989, and what they do “know” is a highly distorted government-sponsored version of events. Fang was right.
story  democracy  scientist  china  1989/6/4 
september 2014 by aries1988
南极料理人:用心料理严寒中的温暖
每次看到电影里制作美食的镜头都非常过瘾,尤其是那一个一个的饭团,一道一道的鲜汤,还有各种不同的容器和器皿,都充满了清新的味道。即使在南极,为八个不拘小节的大男人做饭,都可以做到那么考究,每人一份精致的餐点,就连筷枕都不能含糊,用一粒带壳花生来代替。每一次用完的厨具,都会干净整洁的摆放,厨房总是一尘不染。生活中自己常常过得很随便,总是一再期待自己拥有更好的环境再来好好营造精致的生活,想想或许只要自己愿意,无需等到有足够大的房子,有足够隐私的空间,生活的精致和考究在于自己的习惯。好好料理生活,温暖一直都在。
cuisine  japan  scientist  movie  feelgood 
march 2014 by aries1988
Tingye Li, Instrumental in the Laser’s Development, Dies at 81 - NYTimes.com
Dr. Li often quoted Confucius, though friends suspected he occasionally concocted his own learned sayings and then attributed them to the sage. He frequently went to China to help it develop optical communications. The Chinese Academy sent his family a letter at his death praising him for helping China “leapfrog to a higher level” in handling telecommunications traffic.

In a speech on his 80th birthday, Dr. Li revealed that he had proposed marriage to his wife for their next life, after they are both reincarnated. She tentatively agreed, he said, if he behaved.
bio  scientist 
january 2013 by aries1988
数学家们的故事
 在北大混了四年,一事无成;在未名上也呆了快一年了,制造了几千篇的垃圾。要毕业的人想法总是奇怪的,譬如说竟然真的要正经的写几篇文章了。最初写成这些东西的时候,我发给了几个朋友,一个学数学的师弟说他很感动,一个非数学系的mm说他后悔当初没有选数学系,无论怎样,他们能这样子讲,我很感动,这是发自内心的那种。现在的打算是每天贴2-3个故事,一直到欧毕业那天。很多事情难免有些too old,这个我也没有办法,激动人心的事情毕竟只有那么多。   不多说了,真心的希望大家会喜欢,哪怕只有一点点的喜欢。这些文字偶给了一个名字,叫做“偶心目中的英雄---Heroes in My Heart”
http://www.instapaper.com/read/339289943
maths  scientist  story 
november 2012 by aries1988
The Science of Predicting the Future
If you want to know what’s going to happen in the future with any sort of accuracy, you need science. It’s the only thing that’s ever worked, and the more we do it, the better we get at it. This means we need to make the world safe for scientists to do science, we need to treat the science being done with the respect it deserves, and we need to improve and encourage communication between scientists and the public. Remember, somewhere, right now, a scientist is hard at work trying to understand how some part of this Universe works for the sole purpose of trying to protect you from what are otherwise completely unpredictable natural disasters.
http://www.instapaper.com/read/333030634
risk  scientist  society  future  italia  earthquake 
october 2012 by aries1988
数学家们的故事
 ----------------------------------------   给那些喜欢数学和不喜欢数学的人们   给那些了解数学家和不了解数学家的人们。   ---------------------------------------- http://blog.renren.com/share/225732841/14496583517
http://www.instapaper.com/read/332300871
story  maths  scientist 
october 2012 by aries1988
Securing the legacy of the world's greatest geek - opinion - 24 August 2012 - New Scientist
Matthew Inman wants to build a museum dedicated to inventor Nikola Tesla, the "greatest geek who ever lived"
googlereader  oatmeal  museum  future  project  science  scientist 
august 2012 by aries1988
活着的意义
于娟,《此生未完成》的作者,一个复旦大学青年教师,一个两岁半孩子的母亲,一个四十岁男人的妻子,两个六旬老人的女儿,一个乳腺癌晚期患者。
http://www.instapaper.com/read/274486305
story  death  parents  china  scientist  shanghai 
august 2012 by aries1988
李政道用一支铅笔启发了毛泽东-翟华博客-我的搜狐
对于由‘文化大革命’引起的大混乱而言,这次会面只带来一点点‘有序’。尽管如此,或许它以一种很有限的方式表示,在人所固有的在自然界寻求对称的渴望与他对社会的要求之间存在一种关联,二者同样是有意义的,而且也是均衡的。 ”
story  scientist  mao  chinese  pencil 
july 2012 by aries1988

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