Network Theory to Identify Origins of Outbreaks (MIT Technology Review) — “By monitoring only 20% of the communities, we achieve an average error of less than 4 hops between the estimated source and the ﬁrst infected community”. The paper says it depends on good knowledge of the network, which makes me wonder how useful it will be for government tracing of Anons and the like.
The Coffee-Ring Effect (YouTube) — beautiful video of what happens in liquids as they evaporate, explaining why coffee stains are rings, and how to create liquids with even evaporative coating.
The Importance of Quantitative Thinking Medicine (PDF) — scaling laws underly aging, metabolism, drug delivery, BMI, and more. Full of wow moments, like Fractals are a common feature of many complex systems ranging from river networks, earthquakes, and the internet to stock markets and cities. [...] Geometrically, the nested levels of continuous branching and crenulations inherent in fractallike structures optimise the transport of information, energy, and resources by maximising the surface areas across which these essential features of life flow within any volume. Because of their fractal nature, these effective surface areas are much larger than their apparent physical size. For example, even though the volume of our lungs is about 5–6 L, the total surface area of all the alveoli is almost the size of a tennis court and the total length of airways is about 2500 km. Even more striking is that if all the arteries, veins, and capillaries of an individual’s circulatory system were laid end to end, its total length would be about 100000 km, or nearly two and a half times around the earth.
Electric Sheep — hypnotic screensaver, where the sleeping computers collaborate on animations. You can vote up or down the animation on your screen, changing the global gene pool. Popular animations survive and propagate.
China Hackers Hit EU Point Man and DC (Bloomberg) — wow. The extent to which EU and US government and business computer systems have been penetrated is astonishing. Stolen information is flowing out of the networks of law firms, investment banks, oil companies, drug makers, and high technology manufacturers in such significant quantities that intelligence officials now say it could cause long-term harm to U.S. and European economies. (via Gady Epstein)
Digestible Microchips (Nature) — The sand-particle sized sensor consists of a minute silicon chip containing trace amounts of magnesium and copper. When swallowed, it generates a slight voltage in response to digestive juices, which conveys a signal to the surface of a person’s skin where a patch then relays the information to a mobile phone belonging to a healthcare-provider. (via Sara Winge)
Quantum Mechanics Make Simple(r) — clever way to avoid the brain pain of quantum mechanics and leap straight to the “oh!”. [N]ature is described not by probabilities (which are always nonnegative), but by numbers called amplitudes that can be positive, negative, or even complex. [...] In the usual “hierarchy of sciences”—with biology at the top, then chemistry, then physics, then math—quantum mechanics sits at a level between math and physics that I don’t know a good name for. Basically, quantum mechanics is the operating system that other physical theories run on as application software (with the exception of general relativity, which hasn’t yet been successfully ported to this particular OS). (via Hacker News)
DIY Bio SOPs — CC-licensed set of standard operating procedures for a bio lab. These are the SOPs that I provided to the Irish EPA as part of my “Consent Conditions” for “Contained Use of Class 1 Genetically Modified Microorganisms”. (via Alison Marigold)
Shuffling Cards — shuffle a deck of cards until it’s randomised. That order of cards probably hasn’t ever been seen before in the history of mankind.
What Facebook Knows (MIT Tech Review) — Analyzing the 69 billion friend connections among those 721 million people showed that the world is smaller than we thought: four intermediary friends are usually enough to introduce anyone to a random stranger. and our close friends strongly sway which information we share, but overall their impact is dwarfed by the collective influence of numerous more distant contacts—what sociologists call “weak ties.” It is our diverse collection of weak ties that most powerfully determines what information we’re exposed to.
Human Microbiome Mapped (The Scientist) — the Human Microbiome Project sequenced DNA of bacterial samples collected from 242 healthy volunteers. 3.5 terabytes of data, all accessible through public databases. One fascinating finding: Although each body part is characterised by some signature microbial groups, no species was universally present across every volunteer. “One of the HMP’s original mandates was to define the core microbiome, or the bugs that everyone shares,” said Huttenhower. “It looks like there really aren’t any.”
Kids Today Not Inattentive (Neuroskeptic) — There’s no evidence that children today are less attentive or more distractible than kids in the past, according to research just published by a team of Pennsylvania psychologists. (via Ed Yong)
Teaching Makematics at ITP (Greg Borenstein) — Computer vision algorithms, machine learning techniques, and 3D topology are becoming vital prerequisites to doing daily work in creative fields from interactive art to generative graphics, data visualization, and digital fabrication. If they don’t grapple with these subjects themselves, artists are forced to wait for others to digest this new knowledge before they can work with it.
What Does It Mean to Say That Something Causes 16% of Cancers? (Discover Magazine) — hey, all you infographic jockeys with your aspirations to add Data Scientist to your business card: read this and realize how hard it is to make sense of a lot of numbers and then communicate that sense. Data Science isn’t about Hadoop any more than Accounting is about columns. Both try to tell a story (the original meaning of your company’s “accounts”) and what counts is the informed, disciplined, honest effort of knowing that your story is honest.
Hours Days, Who’s Counting? (Jon Udell) — What prompted me to check? My friend Mike Caulfield, who’s been teaching and writing about quantitative literacy, says it’s because in this case I did have some touchstone facts parked in my head, including the number 10 million (roughly) for barrels of oil imported daily to the US. The reason I’ve been working through a bunch of WolframAlpha exercises lately is that I know I don’t have those touchstones in other areas, and want to develop them. The idea of “touchstone facts” resonates with me.
Spotting Fake Reviewer Groups in Consumer Reviews (PDF) — gotta love any paper that says We calculated the “spamicity” (degree of spam) of each group by assigning 1 point for each spam judgment, 0.5 point for each borderline judgment and 0 point for each non-spam judgment a group received and took the average of all 8 labelers. (via Google Research Blog)
Punting on SxSW (Brad Feld) — I came across this old post and thought: if you can make money by being a dick, or make money by being a caring family person, why would you choose to be a dick? As far as I can tell, being a dick is optional. Brogrammers, take note. Be more like Brad Feld, who prioritises his family and acts accordingly.
Apollo Software — amazing collection of source code to the software behind the Apollo mission. And memos, and quick references, and operations plans, and …. Just another reminder that the software itself is generally dwarfed by its operation.
Habits of Mind (PDF) — Much more important than speciﬁc mathematical results are the habits
of mind used by the people who create those results,and we envision a curriculum
that elevates the methods by which mathematics is created,the techniques used
by researchers,to a status equal to that enjoyed by the results of that research. Loved it: talks about the habits and mindsets of mathematicians, rather than the set of algorithms and postulates students must be able to recall. (via Dan Meyer)
Big Data in Finance (PDF, 9M) — Algo trading systems have begun to resemble an arms race. Competition, data, and the race for real-time.
A Parent’s Guide to 21st Century Learning (Edutopia, free registration required to download) — What should collaboration, creativity, communication, and critical thinking look like in a modern classroom? How can parents help educators accomplish their goals? We hope this guide helps bring more parents into the conversation about improving education. (via Derek Wenmoth)
Chess Intelligence and Winning — survey of IQ gaps between contestants needed to win competitions. We could view cops and killers as being involved in a grim contest. In the USA around 65% of all murders are solved. That converts to an average “murder” ELO rating difference between police and murderers of 108 ELO points. It is also known that the mean IQs of murderers and policemen are 87 and 102, respectively. So successfully solving murders is a puzzle then the “a” coefficient is 0.041, and each IQ point difference is worth 7.2 ELO points. I suspect this is masturbatory math extrapolation rather than anything significant or predictive, but the cops-vs-robbers IQ contest was an interesting angle. (via Dr Data’s Blog)
Etsy Hacker Grants: Supporting Women in Technology — Today, in conjunction with Hacker School, Etsy is announcing a new scholarship and sponsorship program for women in technology: we’ll be hosting the summer 2012 session of Hacker School in the Etsy headquarters, and we’re providing ten Etsy Hacker Grants of $5,000 each — a total of $50,000 — to women who want to join but need financial support to do so. Our goal is to bring 20 women to New York to participate, and we hope this will be the first of many steps to encourage more women into engineering at Etsy and across the industry.