36 Articles


12 years Ago

Opinion-Based Reality

Published by marco on

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
Arthur C. Clarke

Though the phrase above was originally intended to apply to technological gadgets, it applies equally well to any concept of sufficient complexity. The trick is often used to get people to believe things that are wrong or that they would not believe in were they mentally equipped to follow the reasoning. Instead of simply reserving judgment because they don’t know enough, most people will elect to bluff and simply agree with... [More]

Cheap Glasses for Everyone

Published by marco on

Compared to the problems caused in the first world, third world problems can generally be solved relatively cheaply. It costs well north of a trillion to even make it look like you’re doing something about saving the U.S. economy, but it takes a few paltry tens of billions to feed everyone in Africa. How much is that? A couple of months in Iraq? We can spend our money on blowing things up, but not on feeding people or controlling disease. While building a military machine to grind the world... [More]

LHC Almost Online

Published by marco on

 Silicon Tracking DetectorThe LHC (Large Hadron[1] Collider) is located in France and Switzerland at CERN[2]; the first experiments begin in early August 2008 and a full test of all 27km of track is planned in September. Project members expect to be analyzing the first collisions by the end of the year. The entire track will be cooled to just 1.75ºC shy of absolute zero (to -271.25ºC) and will be in-use for decades. The big expectation is that the long-sought Higgs Boson[3] makes an appearance.

The article Large Hadron Collider... [More] (Big Picture)

13 years Ago

Peer Review

Published by marco on

Just as governments seek to justify everything they do—regardless of how violent or fascist—as being in the name of democracy or the greater good or for moral reasons, other dubious ideas have glommed onto the idea of portraying themselves as science in order to accumulate more than their fair share of respect. It seems that the cloak of science is just the spoonful of sugar the media needs to make any crackpot idea go down without a hiccup. Two areas in particular are swirling with boasts... [More]

Levels of Abstraction

Published by marco on

The universe is, apparently, quite big. This is made all the more amazing in light of how small its constituent components are, since it clearly takes quite a lot of them to make up something so mind-bogglingly huge as the universe. Brian Cox at LIFT Conference (LIFT07) gave a brilliant talked aimed at the layperson—if the lay-person happened to be versed in the basics of particle physics. Dr. Brian Cox explains nuclear physics is another, wider-shot video of the same event, on which you can... [More]

14 years Ago

Measuring Body Fat

Published by marco on

The BMI, or Body-Mass–Index, has been in the news a lot lately. Whether because of runway models, whose BMIs are dangerously low, or because of kids in first-world countries, whose BMIs are dangerously high. The BMI myth by Peta Bee (The Guardian) takes a look at the utility of this measurement in determining health. As usual, now that the public (as well as insurance companies and government agencies) has glommed on to this statistic as the final say in health, scientists have taken a look at it and found it wanting.

Calculating... [More]