"physics" entries

Four short links: 15 April 2016

Four short links: 15 April 2016

Building Economic Models, Living in a Computer Simulation, Distributed Ledgers, and 3D-Imaged DNA

  1. How to Build an Economic Model in Your Spare Time (PDF) — Hal Varian’s article is to economics research what The Manual by the KLF is to pop music.
  2. Are We Living in a Computer Simulation? (Scientific American) — an overview of the kind of scientific argument one normally has in the pub rather than Scientific American.
  3. Intel Ledger — open source experimental distributed ledger from Intel, described here.
  4. Berkeley Lab captures first high-res 3D images of DNA segments (Kurzweil) — “This is the first time for directly visualizing an individual double-strand DNA segment in 3D.”
Comment: 1

Mark Burgess on a CS narrative, orders of magnitude, and approaching biological scale

The O'Reilly Radar Podcast: "In Search of Certainty," Promise Theory, and scaling the computational net.

Subscribe to the O’Reilly Radar Podcast to track the technologies and people that will shape our world in the years to come.


In this week’s Radar Podcast episode, Aneel Lakhani, director of marketing at SignalFx, chats with Mark Burgess, professor emeritus of network and system administration, former founder and CTO of CFEngine, and now an independent technologist and researcher. They talk about the new edition of Burgess’ book, In Search of Certainty, Promise Theory and how promises are a kind of service model, and ways of applying promise-oriented thinking to networks.

Here are a few highlights from their chat:

We tend to separate our narrative about computer science from the narrative of physics and biology and these other sciences. Many of the ideas of course, all of the ideas, that computers are based on originate in these other sciences. I felt it was important to weave computer science into that historical narrative and write the kind of book that I loved to read when I was a teenager, a popular science book explaining ideas, and popularizing some of those ideas, and weaving a story around it to hopefully create a wider understanding.

I think one of the things that struck me as I was writing [In Search of Certainty], is it all goes back to scales. This is a very physicist point of view. When you measure the world, when you observe the world, when you characterize it even, you need a sense of something to measure it by. … I started the book explaining how scales affect the way we describe systems in physics. By scale, I mean the order of magnitude. … The descriptions of systems are often qualitatively different with these different scales. … Part of my work over the years has been trying to find out how we could invent the measuring scale for semantics. This is how so-called Promise Theory came about. I think this notion of scale and how we apply it to systems is hugely important.

You’re always trying to find the balance between the forces of destruction and the forces of repair.

Read more…

Four short links: 14 August 2015

Four short links: 14 August 2015

Jeep Hack, Blockchain for Beginners, Three Next:Economy Papers, and Signs of Self-Destruction

  1. The Jeep Cherokee Hack (Kaspersky) — details from the Black Hat talk.
  2. The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Blockchain Technology — in case you’ve been slipping on your nerd cred.
  3. Automation Angst (The Economist) — discusses three papers: (1) automation creates new jobs; (2) the sweet-spot of automation has been in mid-range intellectual, mid-rate physical tasks; and (3) know the history of automation/unemployment scares.
  4. Observational Signatures of Self-Destructive Civilisations (arXiv) — Using the Earth as an example, we consider a variety of scenarios in which humans could extinguish their own technological civilisation. Each scenario presents some form of observable signature that could be probed by astronomical campaigns to detect and characterise extrasolar planetary systems. I feel like there’s a business form of this paper, too …
Four short links: 27 October 2014

Four short links: 27 October 2014

Maker Education, Content Moderators, New Microscopy, and Hardware Emulation in LaTeX

  1. Progressive Education and the Maker Movement (PDF) — Gary Stager paper on how constructivist education (learning happens best via experience) and the Maker movement need each other. (via Paula Hogg)
  2. Content Moderation (Wired) — “content moderators” are the people paid to weed out beheadings, pornography, etc. from photo and video sites. By at least one estimate, the number of content moderators scrubbing the world’s social media sites, mobile apps, and cloud storage services runs to “well over 100,000”—that is, about twice the total head count of Google and nearly 14 times that of Facebook.
  3. Amazing New Microscope (National Geographic) — Lattice light sheet microscopy takes amazing movies, completely with Matrix-can freeze-and-rotate, from the recipient of this year’s Nobel Prize for Chemistry.
  4. avremu — an AVR (the chip inside the Arduino) emulator written in LaTeX. Yes, LaTeX.
Four short links: 9 April 2014

Four short links: 9 April 2014

Internet of Listeners, Mobile Deep Belief, Crowdsourced Spectrum Data, and Quantum Minecraft

  1. Jasper Projectan open source platform for developing always-on, voice-controlled applications. Shouting is the new swiping—I eagerly await Gartner touting the Internet-of-things-that-misunderstand-you.
  2. DeepBeliefSDK — deep neural network library for iOS. (via Pete Warden)
  3. Microsoft Spectrum Observatory — crowdsourcing spectrum utilisation information. Just open sourced their code.
  4. qcraft — beginner’s guide to quantum physics in Minecraft. (via Nelson Minar)

Podcast: what makes a scientist?

How scientists become scientists, whether science is still advancing at Newton's pace, and the future of neuroscience and bioengineering.

At Sci Foo Camp last weekend, we enjoyed sitting down with several thoughtful scientists and thinkers-about-science to record a few podcast episodes. Here we speak with Tom Daniel, a professor of biology, computer science, and neurobiology at the University of Washington, and Ben Lillie, co-founder of The Story Collider and a Stanford-trained physicist. First topic: what brings people to science, and how we compare to our icons. Along the way, we mention Hans Bethe, Isaac Newton’s epitaph, and John McPhee’s trip across Interstate 80.

We’ll post the rest of the series over the coming weeks. In the meantime, you can find more episodes of our podcast and subscribe on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Comments: 2
Four short links: 7 November 2012

Four short links: 7 November 2012

Relativity Toys, Removing Metrics, Parallel Open Source, and Text Karaoke

  1. A Slower Speed of Light — game where you control the speed of light and discover the wonders of relativity. (via Andy Baio)
  2. Facebook Demetricator — removes all statistics and numbers from Facebook’s chrome (“37 people like this” becomes “people like this”). (via Beta Knowledge)
  3. Rx — Microsoft open sources their library for composing asynchronous and event-based programs using observable sequences and LINQ-style query operators.
  4. Typing Karaoke — this is awesome. Practice typing to song lyrics. With 8-bit aesthetic for maximum quirk.
Comment: 1