What is with people making ludicrous claims? I mean, I guess technically it’s not wrong to say it could happen as soon as this year. But it’s just as likely to take another 100,000 years. Our current models of supernovae and star evolution are not nearly precise enough to say it will happen in the next year or two.
Science making headlines is great. However, I hope for a day when we don’t have to sell to the doomsday conspiracy-theorists to get mainstream attention.
I just read an interesting article about the flight of birds in the NY Times - http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/04/science/04birds.html?_r=1&hpw
I’ve always found it fascinating how birds are able to fly so deftly and feel that human’s attempts to fly are as of yet, a feeble attempt to fly like birds. What do you guys think? Especially those of you who are aerospace gurus, do you think it will ever be possible for a machine to fly, hover, and land the way a hummingbird can? Or is a bird’s ability to fly only possible through biology?
Also, here’s some eye candy from the experiments documented in the article - http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2011/01/04/science/04BIRDS-2.html
just plain funny email I received today from a prank society:
Dear Yale College Student,
As you are likely aware, this Friday, December 10th marks the date Connecticut will end sale of caffeinated alcoholic beverages like Four Loko. These beverages pose serious, unknown health risks, and we urge students not to throw Four Loko commemoration events, remembrance parties, or blackout memorial services. Since it is reading period, and students seem to have developed an attachment to these unsafe beverages, we thought it would be helpful to provide some of the new FDA research on alcohol-laced energy drinks. It is our hope that students continue to make educated, healthy decisions through Friday.
- 1280 million people have already died from Four Loko.
- With each can of Four Loko you drink, you take 25 years off your life.
- Drinking four cans of Four Loko is really like drinking eight cans.
- 4 out of 5 people in an insane asylum were committed because of Four Loko induced madness.
- In the time it takes you to brush your teeth, three children have died from Four Loko.
- One can of Four Loko will power a car for thirty miles; this is considered drunk driving.
- If you drink a watermelon-flavored Four Loko, a watermelon will grow in your stomach.
- Four Loko is the number one contributor to climate change.
- 5 out of 4 inner city children were raised by a Four Loko.
- The number of lokos per Loko has doubled from two to four in the last decade.
The Four Loko culture on campus has been upsetting to us at the Yale Health Center. In particular, we are deeply disturbed that a student group would sell these pro-Loko t-shirts. To the Yale community: do not buy these t-shirts. If you are in Bass Cafe between noon and 4:00 today, do not buy them. It is distressing that students would create something so hilarious about a topic so grave. So please, consider the safety risks, and do not buy these shirts. Do not buy them for ten dollars.
James M. Perlotto, M.D.
Chief of Student Health and Chief of Athletic Medicine, Yale Health Center
Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Yale School of Medicine
I was pulling out of a parking space in the lot behind Octane a few days ago, when I looked to my left, where there was a large, silvered (mirror-like) window. Looking in the window, I could see the reflection of my entire car, but not myself in the car. Of course, I could see my car respond to every turn of the steering wheel I made. I had a moment of extreme cognitive dissonance, where I suddenly felt like my “self” included the car.
As children, we partially identify our sense of self by seeing (directly or through mirrors) what aspects of our environment change when we direct our body to move. Even as adults, if we’re not certain that a reflection is ours, we’ll wave our hands or shift our heads in a distinct way in order to determine if the reflection matches our movements.
If we begin to integrate sensory inputs from remote sensors (for example, cameras on multiple UAVs) directly into our normal complement of sensory input, will our brain alter our sense of self to be more abstract? Direct integration of alternate sensory input doesn’t seem all that far in the future, considering the technology BrainPort is developing. By mapping the video from a camera to a grid of electrodes stimulating the tongue, BrainPort has been able to augment the visual capabilities of blind people. Considering the plasticity of the brain, it doesn’t seem too far-fetched to consider humans as becoming clouds of sensory input.
After a long break, I present to you an interesting (and somewhat creepy) video of one man’s animatronics works. Also, the music is Bjork’s “Army of Me”.
Steven Vogt, UC professor of astronomy and astrophysics (CNN article)
Most of you have probably seen mention of this in the past few days, it’s been getting a surprising bit of media coverage. New Goldilocks planet discovered! 100% chance of life! What the hell? Aside from the inherent humor in the “almost no doubt” about a 100 percent certainty in the above quotation, there are several problems with this conclusion.
Looking back at some history, the Gliese 581 system is actually not a new discovery. In fact, several other planets in the very system have generated buzz in the community for possibly being in the Goldilocks region and harboring life. Here’s an article from 2007 about Gliese 581c:
Notice the similarities. This planet, along with a few siblings, have all come and gone as further data was analyzed. The vast majority of planet discoveries like this are based on Doppler effects, which happens to give minimum masses. So the 3-times Earth mass figure everyone’s freaking out over is a minimum estimate, not a conclusive number. Also, the Goldilocks zone is not just a function of the parent star, but also depends on the planet itself. For example, if we were on Gliese 581g looking towards this solar system, we would probably freak out over Venus and Mars just as much as Earth. Both planets are roughly Earth sized, and from only looking at the Sun, within Goldilocks distances. However, Venus’s atmosphere creates extreme hot temperatures instantly boiling any chance of water, whereas Mars’ lack of an atmosphere (relatively) makes surface water impossible.
Let’s look at another number. Gliese 581g orbits its star in something like 37 days. That puts it very close to the star, enough to where it is most definitely tidal locked. That’s like the moon to the Earth, where the same face is always pointed towards us. It’s a simple product of gravitational forces, so provided physics works the same there, it’s pretty much certain. What does that mean? For one, there’s no day-night cycle, which would wreak havoc on life as we know it. Oh, and there’s a really really hot side and a corresponding really really cold side. There would, however, be a moderate zone somewhere near the boundary. Also, IF there is a significant but not excessive atmosphere, convection could transfer some of the heat from the hot side to the cold side.
Sorry for such a negative take. I was rather annoyed by the sensationalist optimism of most media sources covering this finding. It is, in the end, an amazing discovery, and I hope that future data supports the possibility of water and life. You think conclusive evidence for water on the planet would generate more interest and funding for space exploration?
a witty collection of stamps from a recent RISD alum; I imagine 3 years of critiques can breed sarcasm/resentment :)
First: watch this:
I recently worked at a summer camp for boys which was a fascinating exploration into youth development. There was a strong emphasis on “natural consequences” and being very hands off. When boys got into arguments or were doing something stupid we’d let them (as long as it didn’t lead to serious injury which did not include splinters, bloody scrapes, or bruises).
All that being said, there were several times when the boys would perform an action they “knew” was bad. We also “knew” it was “bad”, mostly cussing, or hitting, maybe even nudity. But we all do these things, and we all know there is a level of social stigma attached to them, but often don’t care to correct the person. Many times it’s funny, and it’s easier to laugh than to get mad (especially when it’s a mess they make)
But what then determines if the action is bad? Half the time I just wanted to roll my eyes or fall on my back giggling- but the boys know they’re supposed to be reprimanded.
So what do you do, they’re following your example in theory, You’re the big brother, the one who knows what’s right and wrong, and if anything being with 150+ 10 year olds, it’s that right and wrong don’t mean a whole lot when you put them out in the woods, it becomes more about being full, or tired, or hot, it’s not “right and wrong” it’s more about being satisfied.
If these kids were to emulate me, then they would only be more confused about the nature of how we interact; and if we emulate that, then this is going to be one fun circle of logic.
It boils down to this: ketchup — yes, that All-American, red, tomato-based, goopy sauce — came from southeast China, centuries ago, via the British Empire. (Back then, of course, it was neither red, tomato-based, nor perhaps even goopy.)
In fact, even the word ketchup is Chinese.
Blew my mind.