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The Blog of Phyz: Be careful with your parabolic mirror

Let's say you you were into making solar ovens. Let's say that you decided a few years ago to make the best solar oven ever. Further, let's stipulate that you saw a nearly meter-diameter Direct TV antenna on the side of the road. An idea happened. You rushed to the local plastics store and bought highly reflective Mylar and glued it to the antenna.

Your solar oven was pretty amazing. While the hot spot wasn't super small, it was hot. Really hot. It can pasteurize a liter of water in 15 minutes.

And now you work at the Exploratorium and you think that you might bring it to work for grins. If you forget it in the back of the your Outback face up on a sunny day near the solstice, well, it can melt the molding in a fairly impressive way. I think I was lucky that my car didn't catch on fire.


You might be wondering how I could make such a mistake? I had a lot to carry into the Exploratorium, and the mirror wouldn't fit on the cart. I planned on coming back in a few minutes, but I got busy doing something else, and it slipped my mind. Coming back in the afternoon, I sat in the driver seat and looked into the rear view mirror.


Uh oh.


If you want to make your own parabolic mirror, you can find some excellent instructions here.

Marc "Zeke" Kossover"
classideas  optic  science  physics  mirrors  exploratorium  2018  humor  disasters  marckossover 
august 2018 by robertogreco
quantum distributions for Sarah Baartman | The Offing
"“Baartman lived in poverty, and died in Paris of an undetermined
inflammatory disease in December 1815. After her death, Cuvier dissected
her body, and displayed her remains. For more than a century and a half,
visitors to the Museum of Man in Paris could view her brain, skeleton and
genitalia as well as a plaster cast of her body.”

from Sarah Baartman’s Wiki page, referencing
Sara Baartman and the Hottentot Venus:
A ghost story and a biography
by Clifton C. Crais and Pamela Scully

here is what is true:
a black body radiator be a star that Rayleigh Jeans Law fails to approximate
black bodies be emitting spectral radiance but those white men act like they ain’t ever seen us i mean
who gave men permission to approximate the black body?
to contain us? how have men deluded themselves that they are close enough to touch
us? why must they demand black bodies self-sacrifice
in ultraviolet? that is why must we give
all of us to them until we have nothing left? until we approach
infinity? why must they make us approach infinity?
why must they contrast us against the omnipotent?
why must they deny us our humanity in death? why must they torture us
with the focus they have been beaming on to black bodies?
why are they so hungry? like we shine but it ain’t enough? for them
black bodies is never enough
and our purgatory ain’t either how dare they
in fact we the black bodies refuse and denounce lawful men
and their sickly approximations because
we the black bodies understand each other at visible frequencies
without a dissection or death—which is to say witness
us the black bodies rejoice to become mortals again because
here is what is true:
a black body radiator be in thermodynamic equilibrium which is to say
a black body be at rest yes let the black bodies rest
in peace watch us the black bodies converge into an infrared sunset so
blessed be the tail of a distribution curve like where my thigh meets my ass
mine own black body emblematic and
fundamentally mine"

[via: "quantum distributions for Sarah Baartman" is by Lena Blackmon, a Black woman undergrad studying materials science (applied physics) @Stanford. I dreamed of a poem like this: a Black woman writing herself & her history into science, with accurate science!"

"This poem is also my answer to everyone who has ever asked me why it is a problem to compare Black people to dark matter:
black bodies be emitting spectral radiance but those white men act like they ain’t ever seen us i mean
who gave men permission to approximate the black body?"

"If you're writing about Black people and trying to use physics analogies, you better imagine that Black scientists exist and not just reference popular science writing by white people. Talk to a Black scientist. There are many @ #BlackandSTEM."

"Part of Black liberation has to be imagining Black experts in science too. Black people don't just write poetry. We also do science. Sometimes, like Lena, we do both. When you don't imagine that, you don't imagine Lena, and I need you to imagine Lena. I made a department for her."

"I am proud of everything we have published in Back of the Envelope, but it was work like Lena's that drove my initial thinking behind creating the department. I wanted somewhere that a Black woman wouldn't feel like she had to choose between her scientific and literary identities"]
lenablackmon  science  physics  sarahbaartman  blackness  bodies  blackbodies  darkmatter  chandaprescod-weinstein  body 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Chanda Prescod-Weinstein - Fields of Cosmological Dreams - YouTube
"The discovery of the Higgs boson reinforces the possibility that similar, scalar particles may exist in nature and could drive cosmological inflation. This talk describes scientific research in theoretical cosmology through the lens of the experience of a Black, Jewish, queer and femme physicist."
higgsboson  chandaprescod-weinstein  physics  2017  cosmology  race  gender  science  academia 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Uranium: Twisting the Dragon's Tail | PBS
"Host and physicist Dr. Derek Muller unlocks the mysteries of uranium, one of the Earth’s most controversial elements. Born from the collapse of a star, uranium has brought hope, progress and destruction. It has revolutionized society, from medicine to warfare. It is an element that has profoundly shaped the past, will change the future and will exist long after humans have left the Earth."
classideas  science  documentary  uranium  radiation  aborigines  australia  physics 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Lens of Time: Velvet Worms—Secret of the Slime - bioGraphic
"With their chubby bodies, soft, padded feet, and slow-motion gait, South American velvet worms appear pretty harmless. Unless they’re hungry, and you’re an insect. Over millennia, these ancient creatures have evolved a pair of hunting weapons unlike any other in nature: dual high-speed canons capable of jetting viscous slime onto their prey from up to two feet away. Delivered with such power and speed, the velvet worm’s slime canon takes the element of surprise to new levels. And because the goo is delivered through narrow, flexible tubes and expelled with such tremendous force, it can cover a vast area in a matter of milliseconds.

Until recently, biologists still didn’t know exactly how these slime canons work. But then Andres Concha, a Chilean physicist who studies the physical mechanisms in biological systems, turned his attention to velvet worms. His goal: to better understand how fluids operate in the microscopic world. After collecting live specimens from southern Chile's remote temperate rainforest, Concha and his team used high-speed cameras to film slime canons in action. Their observations and measurements have provided new insights into the physics underlying this unique and deadly hunting tactic—and may one day lead to new biotechnology applications. Concha now applies his understanding of this mechanism—a unique adaptation that evolved some 500 million years ago—to construct working replicas of the slime canons in his lab."
chile  nature  worms  patagonia  2016  science  classideas  andrésconcha  southamerica  velvetworms  physics  fluids 
december 2016 by robertogreco
The sound of a plant dying of thirst › News in Science (ABC Science)
"That is the sound of a plant dying of thirst. Heartbreaking isn't it?

As a plant's water source dries out, small bubbles form in the xylem — the hollow strands that carry water from the soil to the leaves of vascular plants.

The recording was made 30 years ago by Dr Kim Ritman, using a very low-fi phone receiver with a pin soldered onto it to amplify the sound.

Ritman, who is now chief scientist at the Department of Agriculture, spent a good part of his PhD poking the pin into leaf stems of plants and recording the clicks as bubbles formed. The idea was to see if the diameter of the xylem determined the frequency of the sound, and he found that the larger the xylem, the lower the clicking sound.

"In general, our hypothesis that larger conduits produced lower frequency signals and smaller units at the ultrasonic frequencies was supported", he writes in his study Acoustic Emissions from Plants: Ultrasonic and Audible Compared."
via:anne  plants  audio  sounds  botany  physics  nature  biology  kimritman 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Stengers’shibbolet, Bruno Latour [.pdf]
"1997 (foreword) Isabelle Stengers, Power and Invention, University of Minnesota
Press, Minneapolis"

"-Would you say that Isabelle Stengers is the greatest French philosopher of science?

-Yes, except she is from Belgium a country that exists only in part and where, contrary to France, the link between science and the state is nil.

-Would you say that she is the philosophical right-hand of the Nobel Prize winner of chemistry Ilya Prigogine?

-Yes, since she wrote several books with him, and yet she has spent the rest of her life trying to escape from the mass of lunatics attracted to this “New Alliance” between science and culture they both wrote together.

-Is she an historian of science?

-Hard to say. Although she wrote extensively on Galileo, on XIXth century thermodynamics, on chemistry1, she remains a philosopher interested in what her physicists and chemists colleagues should understand of their science. Her main object of attention is modern science, and this is what historians and philosophers should study together, no?

-You are not going to say that she is an internalist philosopher of science, are you?

-Worse than that, Isabelle Stengers is an “hyperinternalist” forcing you always to go further towards a small number of theoretical decisions made by her scientific colleagues. In her eyes, most scientists are often not internalist enough.

-But at least don’t tell us that she is a whiggish historian of science looking, like Gaston Bachelard or Georges Canguilhem, for the ways by which hard science finally escapes from history?

-She is, I am afraid, much worse. She is “anti-anti-whiggish” trying to figure out why the anti-whiggish stance is not the good way to account for what it is to “win” in science, at least not if one aims at convincing the chemists and biologists and physicists she is working with.

-But she is a woman philosopher and at least she must develops some kind of feminist philosophy of science?

-There is hardly anyone more critical of the feminist literature although she uses it extensively and knows it quite well.

-Then, she must be one of these abstract minds trying to reconstruct rationally the foundations of science and being busy erasing all signs of her sex, gender, nationality and standpoint?

-Not at all, there is no one more externalist than her and reading more extensively in the litterature on the social history of science.

-What? Does she have any patience for those ridiculous attempts at connecting science and society?

-Worse than that, she is addicted to it and knows more “science studies” than anyone else in the field.

-Do you mean to say that she likes it because it flatters her radical leanings in politics?

-Worse, she wrote on drug legalization, she is a militant in a small left Belgium party and even went as far as working with charlatans practicing hypnosis and other kinds of unorthodox cures... I told you, Isabelle Stengers is always worse! She wrote as much on hypnosis as on physics and she happily compares chemistry laboratory and ethnopsychiatry, going so far as to rehabilitate the word “charlatan”2.

-Then she must be one of these ignorant radicals doing politics because they are unable to grasp the niceties of science?

-Not quite since she does radical politics through the careful definition of what Laplace, Lagrange, Carnot have done with their equations.

-I am thoroughly lost... Then she must be quite a woman?!

-Yes, and quite a mind!

-But, tell me, how come you have been asked to write a foreword for someone who seems obviously much better endowed in philosophical subtleties, political will and scientific knowledge than yourself?

-This is quite strange, I concur. I guess it is because of the tradition in science studies and in anthropology of the modern world to study “up” instead of “down”. Trying to swallow hard sciences had very good effect on the softer ones. I guess it is the same with Stengers. You grind your teeth on her argument, and you feel much better afterward!..."

[continues into the intro]

"One simple way to define this collection of articles presented in English, is to say that they have been written by a philosopher interested in the very classical question of distinguishing good science from bad. Her new solution to this old problem will be, however, difficult to grasp both for science studies and for philosophers and that requires some clarification. Isabelle Stengers does not share the anti-normative stance of most recent historians and sociologists of science and has no qualms in looking for a shibbolet that will help sort out science from non-science. In this sense, but in this sense only, her work is marginally more acceptable to Anglo-American epistemologists than those of “science studies” who shun away from any normative position. Philosophers will be able to recognize at least that here is someone who is not complacent vis-a-vis the production of bad science and who shares their will for a good cleansing job. The difference, because fortunately there is one, lies in the fact that her own touchstone means getting rid of most epistemologists and quite a lot of hard sciences! So the normative goal is similar but the principles of choice are radically different. "

"Stengers’ request to be cosmopolitically correct cut both ways, and cuts hard. In the obscure fights of the Science Wars, one can safely predicts, she will be seen as a traitor to all the camps, not because she is “in the middle” -no one is less of a middle-woman than her, no one is less an adept of the Golden Medium!- but because she imposes on all protagonists a criterion that they will do their utmost to escape. Although this book appears in a series called “Theories out of bound”, no theory is more binding than Stengers’ new demarcation criterion. Having often tried to escape its binding strength only to find myself forced to use it again, it is a great pleasure (and I say it with some glee) to imagine that English-speaking readers are now to be enmeshed into this most daring enterprise we, in the French-reading world, had to take into account for so long. It is my hope that they will learn more than I did (this is unlikely) in those twenty years when I tried to profit from her marvelous “habits of thoughts”, and also my hope that they will be forced even more than I was (this is more unlikely) to modify their definition of hard science and of radical politics by using Stengers’ shibboleth and pushing it everywhere -against herself if needs be!"
isabellestrengers  brunolatour  1997  whigpunk  whigishness  whigs  science  philosophy  philosophyofscience  history  culture  thirdculture  ilyaprigogine  physics  chemistry  feminism  socialhistory  politics  ethnopsychiatry  charlatans  radicalism 
march 2015 by robertogreco
SCiO - Explore More!
"A Pocket Molecular Sensor For All!

Scan materials or physical objects. Get instant relevant information to your smartphone. Food, medicine, plants, and more.

Smartphones made it easy to research facts, capture images, and navigate street maps, but they haven't brought us closer to the physical environment in which we live – until now.

Meet SCiO. It is the world's first affordable molecular sensor that fits in the palm of your hand. SCiO is a tiny spectrometer and allows you to get instant relevant information about the chemical make-up of just about anything around you, sent directly to your smartphone."
sensors  scanners  physics  smartphones  scio  spectrometers  via:alexismadrigal 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Astronomers Watch a Supernova and See Reruns -
"It’s “Groundhog Day” in the cosmos.

In the 1993 Bill Murray movie, a weatherman finds himself reliving the same day over and over again. Now astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope say they have been watching the same star blow itself to smithereens in a supernova explosion over and over again, thanks to a trick of Einsteinian optics.

The star exploded more than nine billion years ago on the other side of the universe, too far for even the Hubble to see without special help from the cosmos. In this case, however, light rays from the star have been bent and magnified by the gravity of an intervening cluster of galaxies so that multiple images of it appear.

Four of them are arranged in a tight formation known as an Einstein Cross surrounding one of the galaxies in the cluster. Since each light ray follows a different path from the star to here, each image in the cross represents a slightly different moment in the supernova explosion.

This is the first time astronomers have been able to see the same explosion over and over again, and its unique properties may help them better understand not only the nature of these spectacular phenomena but also cosmological mysteries like dark matter and how fast the universe is expanding.

“I was sort of astounded,” said Patrick Kelly of the University of California, Berkeley, who discovered the supernova images in data recorded by the space telescope in November. “I was not expecting anything like that at all.”

Dr. Kelly is lead author of a report describing the supernova published on Thursday in the journal Science.

Robert Kirshner, a supernova expert at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who was not involved in the work, said: “We’ve seen gravitational lenses before, and we’ve seen supernovae before. We’ve even seen lensed supernovae before. But this multiple image is what we have all been hoping to see.”

Supernovas are among the most violent and rare events in the universe, occurring perhaps once per century in a typical galaxy. They outshine entire galaxies, spewing elemental particles like oxygen and gold out into space to form the foundations of new worlds, and leaving behind crushed remnants called neutron stars or black holes.

Because of the galaxy cluster standing between this star and the Hubble, “basically, we got to see the supernova four times,” Dr. Kelly said. And the explosion is expected to appear again in another part of the sky in the next 10 years. Timing the delays between its appearances, he explained, will allow astronomers to refine measurements of how fast the universe is expanding and to map the mysterious dark matter that supplies the bulk of the mass and gravitational oomph of the universe.

The heavens continue to light candles for Albert Einstein. On March 14 he would have been 136, and this year marks a century since his greatest achievement, the general theory of relativity that transformed our understanding of space, time and gravity. Dr. Kelly’s paper appears in a special issue of Science devoted to the anniversary of that theory.

Einstein proposed that matter and energy warp the geometry of space the way a heavy body sags a mattress, producing the effect we call gravity. One consequence of this was that even light rays would be bent by gravity and follow a curved path around massive objects like the sun, as dramatically confirmed during a solar eclipse in 1919.

In effect, space itself could become a telescope.

How this cosmic telescope works depends on how the stars are aligned. If a star and its intervening lens are slightly out of line, the distant light can appear as arcs. If they are exactly lined up, the more distant star can appear as a halo known as an Einstein ring, or as evenly separated images — the Einstein Cross.

Astronomers have learned how to use entire galaxies and galaxy clusters as telescopes to see fainter objects beyond them that would otherwise be lost in the fog of time.

Hubble scientists have recently been using this trick in a program known as Glass, or Grism Lens-Amplified Survey from Space, to explore around clusters of galaxies, the most massive and thus most powerful gravitational lenses in the universe. This has enabled them to extend Hubble’s already powerful vision deeper into the past, in one case to a galaxy that existed when the universe was only half a billion years old.

Dr. Kelly’s job was to inspect the images for distant supernovas. He was not expecting to see four versions of the same explosion at once.

They appeared in images recorded in November of a spiral galaxy roughly nine billion light-years from here. The light from this spiral has been bent and magnified both by the gravity of the intervening cluster, which is five billion light-years distant, and by one very massive galaxy in the cluster.

As a result, ghost images of the spiral appear throughout the cluster and in particular in an Einstein Cross around that one galaxy. Because the lensing effect gathers light that would not otherwise be sent to our eyes or a telescope, the image of the host galaxy is not split so much as multiplied, explained Adi Zitrin, a team member from the California Institute of Technology.

“We simply see more appearances than we would if the lens were not present,” he said.

So far the supernova, named after a Norwegian astrophysicist, Sjur Refsdal, has been detected in only the four images in the Einstein cross. Based on computer modeling of the cluster, Dr. Kelly and his colleagues suspect that Supernova Refsdal has appeared before, around 1964 and 1995, in other lensed images of the spiral galaxy.

It should appear again elsewhere in the same cluster within the next few years, Dr. Kelly’s team predicts. The exact timing of Supernova Refsdal’s reappearance depends on how the dark matter in the galaxy cluster is distributed, which will tell astronomers much about a part of the universe they cannot see any other way. The longer the path length or the stronger the gravitational field the light ray goes through, the longer the delay.

Because of the expansion of the universe, the star and its galaxy are receding from us so fast that, according to relativity, clocks there appear to run markedly more slowly than clocks here. As a result, two months from the point of view of the supernova corresponds to nearly six months on Earth.

From our point of view, Dr. Kelly said, “it’s going on in slow motion.”

A star might die only once, but with Einstein’s telescope, if you know where to look, you can watch it scream forever."
time  light  astronomy  astrophysics  relativity  2015  optics  alberteinstein  physics  science 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Clocks Are Too Precise (and People Don't Know What to Do About It) - The Atlantic
"No big deal, but abolishing leap seconds could unmoor us from the sun forever."

"But wouldn’t abandoning the sometimes-second eventually divorce the Earth from the sun? This is one of the reasons why Canada, China, and Britain all cling to the leap second, or, at least, did at the last global meeting.

Matsakis thinks such a link has already been lost.

“​We don’t have a connection,” he told me. “We lose the connection twice a year when we go on daylight saving time.”

By the end of this century, the accumulated gap between UTC and what-should-be-the-solar-time would only be about one minute.

“What will happen is that in about 1,000 years, instead of the sun being overhead at noon, it will be overhead at 1 p.m. But by then society will have shifted.”

Hence the Chaucer. “Almost no one can read Chaucer,” Matsakis says, but we don’t freak out about it. Instead, we understand language to be one of those systems that has shifted imperceptibly over the centuries. In 600 years, when scholars translate texts from before the 21st century, they will just know that—in addition to translating or annotating monetary values so they make sense for contemporaneous readers—“noon” needs to become “1 p.m.”

Such a slow shift over time would be worth it, Matsakis said, for all the network failures it would prevent.

“You would [think it was worth it] too if you were one of the people stranded in Australia when Qantas Airlines went down,” he told me.

He recalled how American railroad companies only invented timezones after crashes forced them to. (Between 1831 and 1853, there were 97 railroad crashes—often because two trains, scheduled at close intervals on the same length of crowded track, disagreed about the time.) And perhaps it would be the same for the leap second."
time  clocks  robinsonmeyer  leapseconds  2015  precision  demetriosmatsakis  science  astronomy  physics  history 
january 2015 by robertogreco
New Parallel Universe Theory - Business Insider
"Although the model is crude, and does not incorporate either quantum mechanics or general relativity, its potential implications are vast. If it holds true for our actual universe, then the big bang could no longer be considered a cosmic beginning but rather only a phase in an effectively timeless and eternal universe. More prosaically, a two-branched arrow of time would lead to curious incongruities for observers on opposite sides. “This two-futures situation would exhibit a single, chaotic past in both directions, meaning that there would be essentially two universes, one on either side of this central state,” Barbour says. “If they were complicated enough, both sides could sustain observers who would perceive time going in opposite directions. Any intelligent beings there would define their arrow of time as moving away from this central state. They would think we now live in their deepest past.”"

"“If we assume there is no maximum possible entropy for the universe, then any state can be a state of low entropy,” Guth says. “That may sound dumb, but I think it really works, and I also think it’s the secret of the Barbour et al construction. If there’s no limit to how big the entropy can get, then you can start anywhere, and from that starting point you’d expect entropy to rise as the system moves to explore larger and larger regions of phase space. Eternal inflation is a natural context in which to invoke this idea, since it looks like the maximum possible entropy is unlimited in an eternally inflating universe.”

The controversy over time’s arrow has come far since the 19th-century ideas of Boltzmann and the 20th-century notions of Eddington, but in many ways, Barbour says, the debate at its core remains appropriately timeless. “This is opening up a completely new way to think about a fundamental problem, the nature of the arrow of time and the origin of the second law of thermodynamics,” Barbour says. “But really we’re just investigating a new aspect of Newton’s gravitation, which hadn’t been noticed before. Who knows what might flow from this with further work and elaboration?”

“Arthur Eddington coined the term ‘arrow of time,’ and famously said the shuffling of material and energy is the only thing which nature cannot undo,” Barbour adds. “And here we are, showing beyond any doubt really that this is in fact exactly what gravity does. It takes systems that look extraordinarily disordered and makes them wonderfully ordered. And this is what has happened in our universe. We are realizing the ancient Greek dream of order out of chaos.”"
physics  space  time  2015  chaos  arrooftime  universe  arthureddington  quantummechanics  davidalbert  ludwigboltzmann  julianbarbour  timkoslowski  flaviomercati  paralleluniverse 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Eric Metaxas: Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God - WSJ
"The fine-tuning necessary for life to exist on a planet is nothing compared with the fine-tuning required for the universe to exist at all. For example, astrophysicists now know that the values of the four fundamental forces—gravity, the electromagnetic force, and the “strong” and “weak” nuclear forces—were determined less than one millionth of a second after the big bang. Alter any one value and the universe could not exist. For instance, if the ratio between the nuclear strong force and the electromagnetic force had been off by the tiniest fraction of the tiniest fraction—by even one part in 100,000,000,000,000,000—then no stars could have ever formed at all. Feel free to gulp. Multiply that single parameter by all the other necessary conditions, and the odds against the universe existing are so heart-stoppingly astronomical that the notion that it all “just happened” defies common sense. It would be like tossing a coin and having it come up heads 10 quintillion times in a row."
science  religion  god  physics  ericmetaxas  universe  via:ayjay 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Extracting audio from visual information | MIT News Office
"Algorithm recovers speech from the vibrations of a potato-chip bag filmed through soundproof glass."

[Direct link to video: ]
audio  physics  science  sound  surveillance  2014 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Super Planet Crash - Can you feel the gravity?
[About: ]

"Super Planet Crash is a little game born out of some of my work on the online version of Systemic. It is a digital orrery, integrating the motion of massive bodies forward in time according to Newtonian gravity. It works on any recent web browser and modern tablets.

The main goal of the game is to make a planetary system of your own creation be stable (i.e. no planet is ejected, or collides with another body). This is of course exceedingly easy when your system comprises of a few Earth-mass planets, but dynamical instability can quickly set in when adding a lot of heavier bodies (from giant planets, all the way to stellar companions).

The challenge is then to fit as many massive bodies as possible inside 2 AUs (twice the distance between the Earth and the Sun), teetering close to instability but lasting at least 500 years. Accordingly, the game rewards a daring player with more points (proportionally to the mass of each body added to the system). A few simple rules are listed under the “Help” button.

The game always starts with an Earth-mass planet in a random location, but you can also have fun overloading known planetary systems! Clicking on the “Template” dropdown brings up a list of planetary systems to use as starting templates, including the compact system Kepler-11 and the super-eccentric planet HD80606 (more systems to come). You can even share your creations with your friends by copying the URL in the “Share” box.

The game is open-source, and still under active development. The entire code will be downloadable from GitHub (as soon as I get a bit of work done!).In the near future, I will be adding integration with Systemic Live, a longer list of template planetary systems and smartphone support. In the meantime, have fun crashing planets!"
astronomy  physics  games  simulations  planets  solarsystems  solarsystem 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Where Time Comes From - The Atlantic
"The time that ends up on your smartphone—and that synchronizes GPS, military operations, financial transactions, and internet communications—originates in a set of atomic clocks on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory. Dr. Demetrios Matsakis, Chief Scientist for USNO's Time Services, gives a tour."
time  demetriosmatsakis  science  physics  gps  2014  video 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Our Comrade The Electron - Webstock Conference Talk
"Termen had good timing. Lenin was just about to launch a huge campaign under the curiously specific slogan:


Why make such a big deal of electrification?

Well, Lenin had just led a Great Proletarian Revolution in a country without a proletariat, which is like making an omelette without any eggs. You can do it, but it raises questions. It's awkward.

Lenin needed a proletariat in a hurry, and the fastest way to do that was to electrify and industrialize the country.

But there was another, unstated reason for the campaign. Over the centuries, Russian peasants had become experts at passively resisting central authority. They relied on the villages of their enormous country being backward, dispersed, and very hard to get to.

Lenin knew that if he could get the peasants on the grid, it would consolidate his power. The process of electrifying the countryside would create cities, factories, and concentrate people around large construction projects. And once the peasantry was dependent on electric power, there would be no going back.

History does not record whether Lenin stroked a big white cat in his lap and laughed maniacally as he thought of this, so we must assume it happened."


Technology concentrates power.

In the 90's, it looked like the Internet might be an exception, that it could be a decentralizing, democratizing force. No one controlled it, no one designed it, it was just kind of assembling itself in an appealing, anarchic way. The companies that first tried to centralize the Internet, like AOL and Microsoft, failed risibly. And open source looked ready to slay any dragon.

But those days are gone. We've centralized the bejesus out of the Internet now. There's one search engine (plus the one no one uses), one social network (plus the one no one uses), one Twitter. We use one ad network, one analytics suite. Anywhere you look online, one or two giant American companies utterly dominate the field.

And there's the cloud. What a brilliant name! The cloud is the future of online computing, a friendly, fluffy abstraction that we will all ascend into, swaddled in light. But really the cloud is just a large mess of servers somewhere, the property of one American company (plus the clouds no one uses).

Orwell imagined a world with a telescreen in every room, always on, always connected, always monitored. An Xbox One vision of dystopia.

But we've done him one better. Nearly everyone here carries in their pocket a tracking device that knows where you are, who you talk to, what you look at, all these intimate details of your life, and sedulously reports them to private servers where the data is stored in perpetuity.

I know I sound like a conspiracy nut framing it like this. I'm not saying we live in an Orwellian nightmare. I love New Zealand! But we have the technology.

When I was in grade school, they used to scare us with something called the permanent record. If you threw a spitball at your friend, it would go in your permanent record, and prevent you getting a good job, or marrying well, until eventually you'd die young and friendless and be buried outside the churchyard wall.

What a relief when we found out that the permanent record was a fiction. Except now we've gone and implemented the damned thing. Each of us leaves an indelible, comet-like trail across the Internet that cannot be erased and that we're not even allowed to see.

The things we really care about seem to disappear from the Internet immediately, but post a stupid YouTube comment (now linked to your real identity) and it will live forever.

And we have to track all this stuff, because the economic basis of today's web is advertising, or the promise of future advertising. The only way we can convince investors to keep the money flowing is by keeping the most detailed records possible, tied to people's real identities. Apart from a few corners of anonymity, which not by accident are the most culturally vibrant parts of the Internet, everything is tracked and has to be tracked or the edifice collapses.

What upsets me isn't that we created this centralized version of the Internet based on permanent surveillance.

What upsets me, what really gets my goat, is that we did it because it was the easiest thing to do. There was no design, forethought, or analysis involved. No one said "hey, this sounds like a great world to live in, let's make it". It happened because we couldn't be bothered.

Making things ephemeral is hard.

Making things distributed is hard.

Making things anonymous is hard.

Coming up with a sane business model is really hard—I get tired just thinking about it.

So let's take people's data, throw it on a server, link it to their Facebook profiles, keep it forever, and if we can't raise another round of venture funding we'll just slap Google ads on the thing.

"High five, Chad!"

"High five, bro!"

That is the design process that went into building the Internet of 2014.

And of course now we are shocked—shocked!—when, for example, the Ukrainian government uses cell tower data to send scary text messages to protesters in Kiev, in order to try to keep them off the streets. Bad people are using the global surveillance system we built to do something mean! Holy crap! Who could have imagined this?

Or when we learn that the American government is reading the email that you send unencrypted to the ad-supported mail service in another country where it gets archived forever. Inconceivable!

I'm not saying these abuses aren't serious. But they're the opposite of surprising. People will always abuse power. That's not a new insight. There are cuneiform tablets complaining about it. Yet here we are in 2014, startled because unscrupulous people have started to use the powerful tools we created for them.

We put so much care into making the Internet resilient from technical failures, but make no effort to make it resilient to political failure. We treat freedom and the rule of law like inexhaustible natural resources, rather than the fragile and precious treasures that they are.

And now, of course, it's time to make the Internet of Things, where we will connect everything to everything else, and build cool apps on top, and nothing can possibly go wrong."

"What I'm afraid of is the society we already live in. Where people like you and me, if we stay inside the lines, can enjoy lives of comfort and relative ease, but God help anyone who is declared out of bounds. Those people will feel the full might of the high-tech modern state.

Consider your neighbors across the Tasman, stewards of an empty continent, who have set up internment camps in the remotest parts of the Pacific for fear that a few thousand indigent people might come in on boats, take low-wage jobs, and thereby destroy their society.

Or the country I live in, where we have a bipartisan consensus that the only way to preserve our freedom is to fly remote controlled planes that occasionally drop bombs on children. It's straight out of Dostoevski.

Except Dostoevski needed a doorstop of a book to grapple with the question: “Is it ever acceptable for innocents to suffer for the greater good?” And the Americans, a more practical people, have answered that in two words: “Of course!”

Erika Hall in her talk yesterday wondered what Mao or Stalin could have done with the resources of the modern Internet. It's a good question. If you look at the history of the KGB or Stasi, they consumed enormous resources just maintaining and cross-referencing their mountains of paperwork. There's a throwaway line in Huxley's Brave New World where he mentions "800 cubic meters of card catalogs" in the eugenic baby factory. Imagine what Stalin could have done with a decent MySQL server.

We haven't seen yet what a truly bad government is capable of doing with modern information technology. What the good ones get up to is terrifying enough.

I'm not saying we can't have the fun next-generation Internet, where everyone wears stupid goggles and has profound conversations with their refrigerator. I'm just saying we can't slap it together like we've been doing so far and expect everything to work itself out.

The good news is, it's a design problem! You're all designers here - we can make it fun! We can build an Internet that's distributed, resilient, irritating to governments everywhere, and free in the best sense of the word, like we dreamed of in the 90's. But it will take effort and determination. It will mean scrapping permanent mass surveillance as a business model, which is going to hurt. It will mean pushing laws through a sclerotic legal system. There will have to be some nagging.

But if we don't design this Internet, if we just continue to build it out, then eventually it will attract some remarkable, visionary people. And we're not going to like them, and it's not going to matter."
internet  surveillance  technology  levsergeyevichtermen  theremin  electricity  power  control  wifi  intangibles  2014  maciejceglowski  physics  music  invention  malcolmgladwell  josephschillinger  rhythmicon  terpsitone  centralization  decentralization  cloud  google  facebook  us  government  policy  distributed  anonymity  ephemeral  ephemerality  tracking  georgeorwell  dystopia  nsa  nest  internetofthings  erikahall  design  buran  lenin  stalin  robertmoog  clararockmore  maciejcegłowski  iot  vladimirlenin 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Peter Higgs: I wouldn't be productive enough for today's academic system | Science | The Guardian
"Peter Higgs, the British physicist who gave his name to the Higgs boson, believes no university would employ him in today's academic system because he would not be considered "productive" enough.

The emeritus professor at Edinburgh University, who says he has never sent an email, browsed the internet or even made a mobile phone call, published fewer than 10 papers after his groundbreaking work, which identified the mechanism by which subatomic material acquires mass, was published in 1964.

He doubts a similar breakthrough could be achieved in today's academic culture, because of the expectations on academics to collaborate and keep churning out papers. He said: "It's difficult to imagine how I would ever have enough peace and quiet in the present sort of climate to do what I did in 1964.""
peterhiggs  science  academia  urgency  slow  physics  quantification  2013  research  publishing 
december 2013 by robertogreco
slope: intercept // A Search for Ramps and Elevations Everywhere
"It might seem counterintuitive—it doesn’t even move, after all—but its very structure affords an operative effect of force, allowing you to elevate and transfer an object you can’t lift with brute strength. It’s an elegance of physics.

In mechanical engineering, a ramp is an inclined plane, a flat surface that sits at an angle for raising and lowering a load. The inclined plane joins the pulley, the wheel-and-axle, the lever, the wedge, and the screw to create the historical pantheon of simple machines; they’re the core structures that give mechanical advantage. They transform energy, which is why they’re the building blocks of compound machines, of all sophisticated engineering."
sarahendren  ramps  machines  physics  art  engineering  2013  elevations  architecture  access  accessibility  mobility  visibility  matthewbattles  inclinedplanes  accelerations  diminutives  transversals  vantages 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Disciplined Minds - Wikipedia
"…book by physicist Jeff Schmidt, published in 2000…describes how professionals are made; the methods of professional & graduate schools that turn eager entering students into disciplined managerial & intellectual workers that correctly perceive & apply the employer's doctrine & outlook. Schmidt uses the examples of law, medicine, & physics, & describes methods that students & professional workers can use to preserve their personalities & independent thought.

Schmidt was fired from his position of 19yrs as Associate Editor at Physics Today for writing the book on the accusation that he wrote it on his employer's time. In 2006…it was announced that the case had been settled, with the dismissed editor receiving reinstatement and a substantial cash settlement. According to the article, 750 physicists & other academics, including Noam Chomsky, signed public letters denouncing the dismissal…"

[ ]
intellectualworkers  workplace  bureaucracy  control  employment  labor  noamchomsky  cv  professionals  disciplinedminds  institutionalization  mediocrity  management  managementstudies  middlemanagement  criticalthinking  personality  law  medicine  physics  2006  2000  unschooling  deschooling  independentthought  independentthinking  professionalization  jeffschmidt 
november 2012 by robertogreco
A Slower Speed of Light | MIT Game Lab
"…a first-person game prototype in which players navigate a 3D space while picking up orbs that reduce the speed of light in increments. Custom-built, open-source relativistic graphics code allows the speed of light in the game to approach the player's own maximum walking speed. Visual effects of special relativity gradually become apparent to the player, increasing the challenge of gameplay. These effects, rendered in realtime to vertex accuracy, include the Doppler effect (red- and blue-shifting of visible light, and the shifting of infrared and ultraviolet light into the visible spectrum); the searchlight effect (increased brightness in the direction of travel); time dilation (differences in the perceived passage of time from the player and the outside world); Lorentz transformation (warping of space at near-light speeds); and the runtime effect (the ability to see objects as they were in the past, due to the travel time of light). Players can choose to…"
mitgamelab  mit  gamedesign  speedoflight  videogames  gamelab  gaming  science  physics  games 
november 2012 by robertogreco
cityofsound: Sketchbook: Dark Matter
"Wouter’s notion of dark matter suggests organisations, culture, & the structural relationships that bind them together as a form of material, almost. Usefully, it gives a name to something otherwise amorphous, nebulous yet fundamental. 

Dark matter is a choice phrase. The concept is drawn from theoretical physics, wherein dark matter is believed to constitute approximately 83% of the matter in the universe, yet is virtually imperceptible. It neither emits nor scatters light, or other electromagnetic radiation. It is believed to be fundamentally important in the cosmos—we simply cannot be without it—& yet there is essentially no direct evidence of its existence, & little understanding of its nature. …

The only way that dark matter can be perceived is by implication, through its effect on other things…

…this seemed to me not only apply to the city, but also to institutions and governments, the public sector generally but also companies and firms, politics and commerce."

[See also: ]
physics  commerce  politics  companies  organizations  culture  cities  2012  darkmatter  danhill  strelkapress 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Crazy Smart: When A Rocker Designs A Mars Lander : NPR
"Steltzner's path to becoming team leader for this new Mars lander was hardly direct. Unlike many successful engineers, he struggled at school. An elementary school principal told him he wasn't very bright. His high school experience seemed to confirm that.

"I passed my geometry class the second time with an F plus, because the teacher just didn't want to see me again," he says.

His father told him he'd never amount to anything but a ditch digger, a remark he still carries with him years later.

Maybe that's because school wasn't a priority, particularly with the distractions of the flower-power era in the Bay Area.

"I was sort of studying sex, drugs and rock and roll in high school," says Steltzner. It wasn't just the long hair. "I liked to wear this strange Air Force jump suit. And my first car was a '69 Cadillac hearse. I put a bed in the back."

After high school, the plan was to be a rock star. … played bass guitar in Bay Area bands… But then something happened."
unschooling  deschooling  engineering  marslander  nasa  2012  learning  physics  curiosity  marsrover  science  education  jpl  adamsteltzner 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Mustafa's Space Drive: An Egyptian Student's Quantum Physics Invention | Fast Company
"Aisha Mustafa, a 19-year-old Egyptian physics student, patented a new type of propulsion system for spacecraft that uses cutting edge quantum physics instead of thrusters…

Mustafa invented a way of tapping this quantum effect via what's known as the dynamic Casimir effect. This uses a "moving mirror" cavity, where two very reflective very flat plates are held close together, and then moved slightly to interact with the quantum particle sea. It's horribly technical, but the end result is that Mustafa's use of shaped silicon plates similar to those used in solar power cells results in a net force being delivered. A force, of course, means a push or a pull and in space this equates to a drive or engine.

In terms of space propulsion, this is amazing…

if you want proof that the tiniest of pushes can propel a spacecraft, check this out: Two Pioneer space probes, launched in the 1970s, are the farthest manmade objects from Earth...but they're not as far away as they should be…"
thisishuge  spaceprobes  pioneer  casimireffect  propulsion  aishamustafa  2012  spacetravel  energy  quantum  space  science  solarsail  quantumphysics  physics 
may 2012 by robertogreco
Kill Math
"The power to understand and predict the quantities of the world should not be restricted to those with a freakish knack for manipulating abstract symbols.

When most people speak of Math, what they have in mind is more its mechanism than its essence. This "Math" consists of assigning meaning to a set of symbols, blindly shuffling around these symbols according to arcane rules, and then interpreting a meaning from the shuffled result. The process is not unlike casting lots."

This mechanism of math evolved for a reason: it was the most efficient means of modeling quantitative systems given the constraints of pencil and paper. Unfortunately, most people are not comfortable with bundling up meaning into abstract symbols and making them dance. Thus, the power of math beyond arithmetic is generally reserved for a clergy of scientists and engineers (many of whom struggle with symbolic abstractions more than they'll actually admit).

We are no longer constrained by pencil and paper…"
paullockhart  teaching  killmath  via:derrickschultz  bretvictor  design  programming  learning  education  mathematics  math  visualization  philosophy  physics 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Norman Brosterman - Inventing Kindergarten: Seedbed of Modern Art | Video on PBS & NPR Forum Network
"Norman Brosterman discusses the history of kindergarten and its influence on such modernist giants as Frank Lloyd Wright, Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, Le Corbusier and the Bauhaus school.
In his book Inventing Kindergarten, Brosterman argues that within this lost world of women and children we can locate the seedbed of modern art. With its emphasis on abstract decomposition and building up from elemental forms, the original kindergarten system of the mid-nineteenth century created an education and design revolution that profoundly affected the course of modern art and architecture, as well as physics, music, psychology and the modern mind itself."
decomposition  design  education  music  physics  psychology  architecture  art  modernism  inventingkindergarten  bauhaus  lecorbusier  pietmondrian  wassilykandinsky  franklloydwright  normanbrosterman  2005 
february 2012 by robertogreco
The Startling Science of a Starling Murmuration | Wired Science |
"What makes possible the uncanny coordination of these murmurations, as starling flocks are so beautifully known? Until recently, it was hard to say. Scientists had to wait for the tools of high-powered video analysis and computational modeling. And when these were finally applied to starlings, they revealed patterns known less from biology than cutting-edge physics."

[See also: AND the video: AND ]
murmurations  starlings  birds  behavior  nature  animals  physics  flight  groups  patterns  collectiveflight 
november 2011 by robertogreco
Video: Deducing the Physics of How Cats Fall - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic
"You know when a cat falls, it always lands on its feet. Thomas Kane was the kind of scientist who saw a cat fall and wanted to deduce the biophysics of the trick. In a series of experiments, he dropped cats and photographed them at high-speed, then broke their movements down into mathematics. Then, he had a trampolinist (in a spacesuit!) perform similar motions to imitate the feline. The images of the cat appeared in LIFE Magazine and the International Journal of Solids and Structures. In the latter, Kane's model of the phenomenon is superimposed on Ralph Crane's photographs."
physics  cats  thomaskane  2011  alexismadrigal  humans  space  science  animals  falling 
september 2011 by robertogreco
The ‘Dramatic Picture’ of Richard Feynman by Freeman Dyson | The New York Review of Books
"a scientist who was unusually unselfish…hated all hierarchies…wanted no badge of superior academic status to come btwn him & his younger friends…considered science to be a collective enterprise in which educating the young was as important as making personal discoveries…put as much effort into teaching as…thinking.

…never showed the slightest resentment when I published some of his ideas before he did…told me he avoided disputes about priority in science by following a simple rule: “Always give the bastards more credit than they deserve.” I have followed this rule myself. I find it remarkably effective for avoiding quarrels & making friends. A generous sharing of credit is the quickest way to build a healthy scientific community. In the end, Feynman’s greatest contribution to science was not any particular discovery. His contribution was the creation of a new way of thinking that enabled a great multitude of students & colleagues, including me, to make their own discoveries."
richardfeynman  freemandyson  books  humanity  humanism  unselfishness  hierarchy  leadership  teaching  learning  science  philosophy  physics  collectivism  discovery  collaboration  2011 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Near Future Laboratory » Design Advances
"Design advances…by accepting absurdities

There's a bit of facing adversity built into that sort of discipline. It means that people are going to look at what you do as absurd — as disconnected from the state of the world right now; as idle experimentation; as just a bunch of weird stuff.

I think the challenge is around the degree of "advance." Sometimes rather than making "big disruption" sorts of advances, small, simple, low-hanging-fruit sorts of things are more tractable and, potentially — more disruptive for their simplicity… Often these "little things done much better" sorts of disruptions effect human behavior in an unexpectedly profound way. Sadly, the hubris of the main players in constructing the future consider a disruption to be wholesale system change of some sort rather than making little things better than they already are. It's also a battle between complex programs or teams, versus relatively simple ideas with small teams executing a clearly stated vision."
julianbleecker  change  design  physics  advances  advancement  2011  gamechanging  absurdities  experimentation  iteration  low-hangingfruit  disruption  disruptive  disruptiveinnovation  simplicity  vision  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  tcsnmy 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Douglas Hofstadter - Wikipedia
"Douglas Richard Hofstadter (born February 15, 1945) is an American academic whose research focuses on consciousness, analogy-making, artistic creation, literary translation, and discovery in mathematics and physics."

"Both inside and outside his professional work, Hofstadter is driven by a pursuit of beauty. He seeks beautiful mathematical patterns, beautiful explanations, beautiful typefaces, beautiful sonic patterns in poetry, and so forth. Hofstadter has said of himself, "I'm someone who has one foot in the world of humanities and arts, and the other foot in the world of science.""
psychology  math  science  douglashofstaster  physics  consciousness  analogy  art  beauty  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  philosophy  literarytranslation  translation  communication  patterns  crossdisciplinary  crosspollination  self-reference  creativity  cognitivesciences 
april 2011 by robertogreco
A bees-eye view: How insects see flowers very differently to us | Mail Online
"To the human eye, a garden in bloom is a riot of colour. Flowers jostle for our attention, utilising just about every colour of the rainbow.

But of course, it is not our attention they need to attract, but that of insects, the perfect pollinating agents.

And as these remarkable pictures show, there is more to many flowers than meets the eye - the human eye at least. Many species, including bees, can see a broader spectrum of light than we can, opening up a whole new world.

The images, taken by Norwegian scientist-cameraman Bjorn Roslett, present a series of flowers in both natural and ultraviolet light, revealing an insect's eye view."
bees  flowers  light  physics  color  sight  animals  nature  perception  insects 
december 2010 by robertogreco
A Physicist Turns the City Into an Equation - ["According to data, when a city doubles in size, every measure of economic activity increases by approximately 15% per capita.]
One quote:

“A human being at rest runs on 90 watts,” he says. “That’s how much power you need just to lie down. And if you’re a hunter-gatherer and you live in the Amazon, you’ll need about 250 watts. That’s how much energy it takes to run about and find food. So how much energy does our lifestyle [in America] require? Well, when you add up all our calories and then you add up the energy needed to run the computer and the air-conditioner, you get an incredibly large number, somewhere around 11,000 watts. Now you can ask yourself: What kind of animal requires 11,000 watts to live? And what you find is that we have created a lifestyle where we need more watts than a blue whale. We require more energy than the biggest animal that has ever existed. That is why our lifestyle is unsustainable. We can’t have seven billion blue whales on this planet. It’s not even clear that we can afford to have 300 million blue whales.” 
urban  urbanism  geoffreywest  cities  corporations  growth  physics  modeling  models  energy  density  efficience  freedom  remkoolhaas  planning  policy  economics  self-control  short-termmemory  memory  architecture  design  urbantheory  urbanscience  theory  science  data  census  walking  transportation  patternrecognition  patterns  math  mathematics  infrastructure  jonahlehrer  organic  organisms  consumption  metabolism  sustainability  interaction  janejacobs  collaboration  crosspollination  robertmoses  efficiency 
december 2010 by robertogreco
Project Aether
"Project Aether is a program designed to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, explorers, and dreamers.   We collaborate with schools to teach students physics concepts, experimental research skills, and to demonstrate low-cost, accessible space exploration through high altitude balloon launches equipped with HD cameras."
space  spacetravel  science  diy  education  physics  classideas  sdspacesociety  edg  engineering  exploration  spaceexploration 
december 2010 by robertogreco
The Way of Dr. Tae | Feature | Chicago Reader
""I don't know that I always agreed with him on all of his philosophies of teaching," says Andrew Morrison… "but he was a rare example of someone who was willing to engage in a discussion of what was wrong with how science is taught and what could be done to improve science education."

Ultimately, though, Kim decided that he didn't care to fight the system, at least not from within. "I made a decision, and it was like, I knew what teaching and learning was, and I knew I couldn't do it at a university, and that blew my mind," he says. "But once I understood that, I had to stop."

Kim isn't sure exactly what his next job will be, but his short career at Robomodo has led him to consider, among other things, in industrial design.

"I didn't plan this, but I think it's more interesting this way," said Kim. "In my professor days, I'd see kids going to college thinking they already had their lives & careers all lined up already. In my experience, it doesn't work out that way." "
drtae  education  learning  physics  teaching  unschooling  deschooling  colleges  skateboarding  universities  skating  skateboards 
november 2010 by robertogreco
15-minute writing exercise closes the gender gap in university-level physics | Not Exactly Rocket Science | Discover Magazine
"This simple writing exercise may not seem like anything ground-breaking, but its effects speak for themselves. In a university physics class, Akira Miyake from the University of Colorado used it to close the gap between male and female performance. In the university’s physics course, men typically do better than women but Miyake’s study shows that this has nothing to do with innate ability. With nothing but his fifteen-minute exercise, performed twice at the beginning of the year, he virtually abolished the gender divide and allowed the female physicists to challenge their male peers."
gender  gendergap  science  mathematics  psychology  physics  women  inequality  education  experiments  assessment  confidence  highereducation  prejudice  values  stereotypes 
november 2010 by robertogreco
The Danger of Cosmic Genius - Magazine - The Atlantic
"Einstein could not make change…bus drivers of Princeton had to pick out his nickels & quarters for him. We dimmer bulbs love to seize on tales like this…comforted by the notion of the educated fool. It seems only right that some leveling principle should deprive the geniuses among us of common sense, street smarts, mother wit…

Having myself grown up in Berkeley, where Nobel laureates are a dime a dozen, I certainly know the syndrome: mismatched socks, spectacles repaired with duct tape, forgotten anniversaries & missed appointments, valise left absentmindedly on park bench. Yet hometown experience did not prepare me completely for Dyson. In my interviews…he would sometimes depart the conversation mid-sentence, his face vacant for a minute or two while he followed some intricate thought or polished an equation, & then he would return to complete the sentence as if he had never been away. I have observed similar departures in other deep thinkers, but never for nearly so long."

[via: ]
climatechange  environment  physics  science  freemandyson  georgedyson  2010  genius  childhood  alberteinstein  concentration  thinking  parenting  biography  religion  faith  belief  sustainability 
november 2010 by robertogreco
Cities - Radiolab
"In this hour of Radiolab, we take to the street to ask what makes cities tick.

There's no scientific metric for measuring a city's personality. But step out on the sidewalk, and you can see and feel it. Two physicists explain one tidy mathematical formula that they believe holds the key to what drives a city. Yet math can't explain most of the human-scale details that make urban life unique. So we head out in search of what the numbers miss, and meet a reluctant city dweller, a man who's walked 700 feet below Manhattan, and a once-thriving community that's slipping away."
cities  radiolab  2010  math  physics  nyc  collapse  urban  urbanism  jonahlehrer  size  footfall  comparison  statistics  data  measurement  tolisten 
november 2010 by robertogreco
Brooklyn Space Program
"The Brooklyn Space Program is a organization formed by a group of friends in New York City interested in scientific experiments, engineering, design and education."
brooklyn  classideas  space  diy  physics  iphone  gps  science  balloons  spacetravel  spaceexploration 
october 2010 by robertogreco
Galaxy Zoo: Hubble
"Galaxy Zoo: Hubble uses gorgeous imagery of hundreds of thousands of galaxies drawn from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope archive. To understand how these galaxies, and our own, formed we need your help to classify them according to their shapes — a task at which your brain is better than even the most advanced computer. If you're quick, you may even be the first person in history to see each of the galaxies you're asked to classify."
space  astronomy  maps  mapping  physics  crowdsourcing  science  galaxies  classification  collaboration  community  diy  distributed 
october 2010 by robertogreco
Konstantin Novoselov Interview - Special Topic of Graphene -
"The style of Geim's lab (which I'm keeping and supporting up to now) is that we devote ten percent of our time to so-called "Friday evening" experiments. I just do all kinds of crazy things that probably won’t pan out at all, but if they do, it would be really surprising. Geim did frog levitation as one of these experiments, and then we did gecko tape together. There are many more that were unsuccessful and never went anywhere (though I still had a good time thinking about and doing those experiments, so I love them no less than the successful ones).

This graphene business started as that kind of Friday evening experiment. We weren’t hoping for much, and when I gave it to a student, it initially failed. Then we had what you could call a stream of coincidences that basically brought us some very remarkable results quite quickly—within a week or so. Then we decided to continue on a more serious basis."
google20%  tcsnmy  graphene  science  physics  materials  play  research  fun  serendipity  experimentation  crossdisciplinary  crosspollination  konstantinnovoselov  interviews 
october 2010 by robertogreco
Graphene Will Change the Way We Live | Dr. Kaku's Universe | Big Think
"Since then, in the past 6 years, scientists have discovered that the substance retains some amazing properties. Some say that it will be heralded as one of the materials that will literally change our lives in the 21st century. Not only is graphene the thinnest possible material that is feasible, but it's also about 200 times stronger than steel and conducts electricity better than any material known to man—at room temperature. Researchers at Columbia University's Fu Foundation School of Engineering who proved that graphene is the strongest material ever measured said that "It would take an elephant, balanced on a pencil, to break through a sheet of graphene the thickness of Saran Wrap.""
graphene  nobelprize  carbon  engineering  physics  materials  technology  innovation  science  future 
october 2010 by robertogreco
Horizons [iPhone, iPad, oF] - "Exploration of colour, sound and form" by @julapy + Eli Murray | CreativeApplications.Net
"Horizons is a interactive sound toy which brings together the atmospheric sounds of Eli Murray (Gentleforce) and generative visuals of Lukasz Karluk. The app is an exploration of colour, sound and form.

The design of the piece focuses on creating subtle colour refractions in a rich colour scape using an algorithmic process known as triangulation. Fluidity of interaction is achieved using real-time physics made using the Box2d library and openFrameworks."
horizons  iphone  applications  ipad  sound  toys  color  form  lukaszkarluk  elimurray  gentleforce  algorithms  triangulation  physics  ios 
september 2010 by robertogreco
HAARP [Look at the thing. Wow.]
"HAARP is a scientific endeavor aimed at studying the properties and behavior of the ionosphere, with particular emphasis on being able to understand and use it to enhance communications and surveillance systems for both civilian and defense purposes." [via:]
atmosphere  haarp  auroral  environment  military  space  science  research  radio  wireless  weather  aurora  physics  nature  technology  ionosphere 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Hemisphere Games — Osmos
"Enter the ambient world of Osmos: elegant, physics-based gameplay, dreamlike visuals, and a minimalist, electronic soundtrack.

Your objective is to grow by absorbing other motes. Propel yourself by ejecting matter behind you. But be wise: ejecting matter also shrinks you. Relax… good things come to those who wait.

Progress from serenely ambient levels into varied and challenging worlds. Confront attractors, repulsors and intelligent motes with similar abilities and goals as you."
osmos  osx  ipad  iphone  mac  macosx  flow  videogames  games  gaming  toplay  physics  ambient  windows  applications  ios 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Kobe, Karplus, and Inquiry « Action-Reaction
"This video (taken from the Win/Fail Physics collection) is the beginning and the end of a mini learning cycle during my projectile motion unit. At the beginning of the unit, it’s the hook. At the end of the unit, it’s the assessment."

[via: ]
physics  wcydwt  science  teaching  exploration  invention  application 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Challenging Traditional Premedical Requirements as Predictor... : Academic Medicine [via:]
"Despite general agreement that many premed requirements are of limited educational value for the practicing physician or active scientist and that a broad liberal arts education provides direct benefits to practitioners and their patients, little progress has been made toward a fundamental reappraisal. In 2009, over 80% of matriculating applicants entered medical school with majors other than the humanities or social sciences.11 The belief that the premed science background (including one year each of organic chemistry, physics, and calculus) is the best form of student preparation for medical school persists, and admissions committees' reliance on exceptional MCAT scores prevails."
unschooling  deschooling  curriculum  curriculumisdead  interdisciplinary  humanities  science  learning  medicine  medicalschool  tradition  admissions  mcat  calculus  chemistry  organicchemistry  physics  ama 
august 2010 by robertogreco
NBC Learn
"NBC Learn is the education arm of NBC News. We are making the global resources of NBC News and the historic film and video archive available to teachers, students, schools and universities.
nbclearn  nbc  education  video  videos  reference  socialstudies  science  history  news  body  brain  multimedia  tcsnmy  physics  olympics  technology  sports  bodies 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Knotebooks - Anyone can contribute. Everyone can learn.
"Knotebooks is a supplementary education platform that enables students, teachers and self-learners to effortlessly create and collaborate on customized multimedia physics lessons."
collaboration  physics  science  education  free  learning  multimedia  math  opensource  pedagogy  tcsnmy 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Robins can literally see magnetic fields, but only if their vision is sharp | Not Exactly Rocket Science | Discover Magazine
"Some birds can sense the Earth’s magnetic field and orientate themselves with the ease of a compass needle. This ability is a massive boon for migrating birds, keeping frequent flyers on the straight and narrow. But this incredible sense is closely tied to a more mundane one – vision. Thanks to special molecules in their retinas, birds like the European robins can literally see magnetic fields. The fields appear as patterns of light and shade, or even colour, superimposed onto what they normally see.
magnets  animals  birds  robins  via:migurski  migration  nature  perception  physics  vision  biology  compass  magnetic  senses  sight  science  light  evolution 
july 2010 by robertogreco
" is an organization dedicated to sharing the newer and emerging "learning tools" of science education. Tools such as real-time data collection, simulations, inquiry based lessons, interactive web lessons, micro-worlds, and imaging, among others, can help make teaching science an exciting and engaging endeavor. These tools can help connect students with science, in ways that were impossible just a few years ago. Take a look at a few different types of "learning tools" at this link, Tool Examples. At this point in our project we are highlighting some of the best web resources for science concepts. Although our main emphasis is on students, teachers, and parents, really anyone interested in science education will find the site useful and informative."
science  education  resources  interactive  simulations  chemistry  biology  astronomy  activities  inquiry  teaching  visualization  physics  free 
june 2010 by robertogreco
Lecture Method vs. Peer Instruction « Zero-Knowledge Proofs
"# Students who have recently learned something are better at explaining it to other students than teacher who learned & mastered it years ago. It is difficult for a teacher who has mastery of a concept to be aware of conceptual difficulties of beginning learner.

# Give students more responsibility for gathering info & make it our job to help them w/ assimilation.

# You can’t learn Physics by watching someone else solve problems...wouldn’t learn to pay piano by watching someone else...If you want to learn problem solving, you have to do problems.

# Better understanding leads to better problem solving...converse...not necessarily true. Better problem solving does not necessarily indicate better understanding.

# Education is no longer about info transfer.

# in his original methods he covered a lot, but the students didn’t retain much so coverage was basically meaningless. In his new method, he has relaxed the coverage a little bit, but increased the comprehension enormously."
wcydwt  teaching  education  depthoverbreadth  via:lukeneff  lectures  peerinstruction  tcsnmy  doing  conceptualunderstanding  understanding  math  physics  learning  information  problemsolving  criticalthinking 
june 2010 by robertogreco
Physics First in Science Education Reform
"Biology first, chemistry second, physics third: The traditional American high school science curriculum follows this order. Education reformers do not believe this needs to be the case. In part due to poor student performance in international science assessments, some educators are rethinking the way science should be taught in the United States."
physics  biology  chemistry  sequence  highschool  curriculum  science  education  schools  us  committeeoften 
june 2010 by robertogreco
High School Biology Today: What the Committee of Ten Did Not Anticipate -- Vázquez 5 (1): 29 -- CBE—Life Sciences Education
"Since the recommendation of biology (or natural history, as it used to be called) in 1893 as part of the high school science curriculum, biology was considered a descriptive subject. In the late 1890s biology consisted of zoology, botany, and physiology. The group that decided on the high school science course configuration was the Committee of Ten. The committee was organized by the National Education Association (NEA) in 1892 to deal with the issue of uniform college entrance requirements. This essay argues that the decision of the Committee of Ten to place biology before chemistry and physics needs to be reexamined. The committee's recommendations are still being implemented over a hundred years later, and the issue of high school science course sequence is currently being debated."
science  education  sequence  highschool  schools  curriculum  chemistry  biology  physics  committeeoften 
june 2010 by robertogreco
College Admissions and the Essential School | Coalition of Essential Schools
"When schools change curriculum and assessment practices, everyone worries that students will suffer in the college selection process. But most selective colleges say they're used to unusual transcripts, and big universities are looking for new ways to work with schools in change."
education  change  reform  admissions  colleges  universities  highschool  tcsnmy  transcipts  grades  grading  evaluation  assessment  science  physics  biology  chemistry  sequence  committeeoften  curriculum  habitsofmind  kathleencushman  1994  tedsizer  coalitionofessentialschools  competency 
june 2010 by robertogreco
Explosions in the sky « Snarkmarket
"Robin: Isn’t the span­gling of stars in the sky just basi­cally ran­dom noise onto which we’ve pro­jected pat­terns and then sto­ries? And if that’s been successful—and it toootally has—doesn’t it imply that you could do the same with just about any kind of ran­dom noise? What sort of weird wacky stuff could you spread across your desk to tell sto­ries with? Tim: After the Coper­ni­can rev­o­lu­tion, a con­stel­la­tion isn’t even a con­stel­la­tion. Instead, it’s a two-dimensional flat­ten­ing of a three-dimensional real­ity. Actu­ally, we should prob­a­bly say a FOUR-dimensional real­ity. The light from stars at vary­ing dis­tances, leav­ing their sources at var­i­ous times in the dis­tant past, gets mis­taken, from our earth­bound point-of-view, as a simul­ta­ne­ous two-dimensional pattern. John Mayer (via Robin): I’m try­ing to fold over time, to see it as a random-access hard disk where I can move to any point in time and change the way I see today."

[See also: ]
time  space  thingtothinkabout  constellationalthinking  snarkmarket  robinsloan  timcarmody  johnmayer  astronomy  light  perspective  history  physics  life  whoah  constellations  sky 
may 2010 by robertogreco
The Back Page
"We are in the midst of paradox in math education. As more states strive to improve math curricula and raise standardized test scores, more students show up to college unprepared for college-level math. The failure of pre-college math education has profound implications for the future of physics programs in the United States. A recent article in my local paper, the Baltimore Sun: “A Failing Grade for Maryland Math,” highlighted this problem that I believe is not unique to Maryland. It prompted me to reflect on the causes."
math  education  tcsnmy  comprehension  mathematics  academia  learning  highschool  teaching  testing  standardizedtesting  rigor  politics  physics  curriculum 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Safer Than A Gamble: Finding Truly Random Numbers : NPR
"This is where the weird properties of quantum mechanics come in. In this world, you can have a magnet that is pointing north and south at the same time, so long as you don't look at it.
random  randomnumbers  quantamentanglement  quantummechanics  physics  geigercounters  encryption 
april 2010 by robertogreco
100 Best Websites for Science Teachers - Forensic Science Technician : Online Schools Guide
"With science and math in the headlines, teachers are under more pressure than ever to keep kids up to date. But with shrinking budgets and growing class sizes, it is getting more and more difficult to do so.
teaching  via:cburell  chemistry  biology  science  education  physics  resources 
april 2010 by robertogreco
List of common misconceptions - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"This list of common or popular misconceptions corrects various fallacious, misleading, or otherwise flawed ideas that are described by multiple reliable sources as widely held. The statements below are not the misconceptions, but are the actual facts regarding those misconceptions."
misconceptions  astronomy  cooking  history  literature  music  politics  law  religion  science  health  sport  technology  chemistry  physics  biology  evolution  myths  misconception  culture 
march 2010 by robertogreco
Going, Going, Gone § SEEDMAGAZINE.COM
"Beyond such mundane geopolitical rivalries, the US has a more profound reason to conserve its helium: Every balloon inevitably deflates. Optimistically assuming that demand for the substance continues to grow only a few percent each year, and that the entirety of the globe’s remaining natural gas reserves will be processed for their helium, the NRC report estimates there will only be enough to last another 40 years. It stands to reason that as supplies diminish, helium will be used more efficiently and investments in recycling technologies will grow. But the fact that the Earth’s four-billion year bounty has been so reduced in scarcely a century suggests that helium is sadly not long for this world."
economics  environment  sustainability  helium  scarcity  materials  nature  physics  geology  geography  resources 
march 2010 by robertogreco
Everywhere in a Flash: The Quantum Physics of Photosynthesis | Wired Science |
"The quan­tum wiz­ardry appears to occur in each of a pho­to­syn­thetic cell’s mil­lions of antenna pro­teins. These route energy from elec­trons spin­ning in photon-sensitive mol­e­cules to nearby reaction-center pro­teins, which con­vert it to cell-driving charges.
quantum  biology  science  physics  plants  photosynthesis  quantambiology 
february 2010 by robertogreco
when richard feynman (3 January 2010, Interconnected)
"When Richard Feynman refuses to explain how magnets work he fidgets and bounces and puffs in a way I recognise from a friend with long-term mental illness, who does this when he gets excited and gets really into explaining a topic. ... The repulsion of magnets is the same as the repulsion you get when you push your hand against the sofa and it pushes back.
richardfeynman  physics  magnets  definitions  explaining  magneticforce  brain  excitement  mattwebb  mentalillness  2010  mentalhealth 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Op-Ed Columnist - The Protocol Society -
"Economic change is fomenting intellectual change. When the economy was about stuff, economics resembled physics. When it’s about ideas, economics comes to resemble psychology."
davidbrooks  economics  psychology  innovation  culture  society  change  gamechanging  scarcity  philosophy  consilience  networks  protocol  physics  ideas 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Feynman at his best | MetaFilter
""Fun To Imagine"is a BBC series from 1983 featuring theoretical physicist Richard Feynman thinking aloud. What is fire? How do rubber bands work? Why do mirrors flip left-right but not up-down? All is explained in his lovely meanderingly lucid manner.
richardfeynman  physics  metafilter  bbc  lectures  science 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Is The Large Hadron Collider Being Sabotaged from the Future? - Large hardron collider - io9
"What if all the Large Hadron Collider's recent woes are more than bad luck and technical problems? Two noted physicists speculate that the future may be pushing back on the LHC to avert the disaster of observing the Higgs boson ... they put forth the notion that observing the Higgs boson would be such an abhorrent event that the future is actually trying to prevent it from happening."
technology  higgsboson  lhc  paradox  timetravel  physics  theory  science  future  disaster  boson 
october 2009 by robertogreco
Khan Academy
"The Khan Academy is a not-for-profit organization with the mission of providing a high quality education to anyone, anywhere.

We have 900+ videos on YouTube covering everything from basic arithmetic and algebra to differential equations, physics, chemistry, biology and finance which have been recorded by Salman Khan.

He has also developed a free, adaptive math program available here. ( Keep in mind that the web application is not fully supported and may not work properly with certain browser and/or network configurations)

To keep abreast of new videos as we add them, subscribe to the Khan Academy channel on YouTube.

The entire video library is shown below. Just click on a category or video title to start learning from the Khan Academy!"

[YouTube channel here: ]

[via: ]
education  learning  free  homeschool  economics  teaching  science  math  algebra  mathematics  geometry  trigonometry  physics  tutorials  youtube  calculus  online  finance  lectures  khanacademy  tcsnmy  arithmetic 
september 2009 by robertogreco
Erasing Dark Energy § SEEDMAGAZINE.COM
"But perhaps the largest objection voiced is that this model would require Earth to be at the center of the universe. In other words, it would violate the Copernican principle, which states that the Earth does not have a special, favored place and that the universe is essentially homogeneous."
mathematics  cosmology  gravity  copernicus  darkenergy  universe  physics 
september 2009 by robertogreco
Make: Online: Make: Science Room Home
"Greetings citizen scientists, budding biohackers, and backyard explorers! We think you'll find the Make: Science Room a fun and useful resource. We hope you'll use it as your DIY science classroom, virtual laboratory, and a place to share your projects, hacks, and laboratory tips with other amateur scientists. Your Make: Science Room host is Robert Bruce Thompson, author of Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments: All Lab, No Lecture. (Make: Books, 2008) and Illustrated Guide to Forensics Investigations: Uncover Evidence in Your Home, Lab, or Basement (not yet published). We'll be drawing material from these titles first, but will soon branch out into biology, astrononmy, Earth sciences, and other disciplines. We'll be adding lots of material on a regular basis, so check back often. For more info on the site, see Introducing the Make: Science Room."
science  make  tcsnmy  howto  diy  microscope  projects  physics  education  chemistry  forensics  glvo  kids  learning  home  lab 
september 2009 by robertogreco
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