- 6 Technical Things I Learned About Bitcoin (Rusty Russell) — Anonymity is hard, but I was surprised to see blockchain.info’s page about my donation to Unfilter correctly geolocated to my home town! Perhaps it’s a fluke, but I was taken aback by how clear it was. Interesting collection of technical observations about the workings of Bitcoin.
- NIFTY: News Information Flow Tracking, Yay! — watch how news stories mutate and change over time. (via Stijn Debrouwere
- EO Wilson’s Advice for Future Scientists (NPR) — the ideal scientist thinks like a poet and works like a bookkeeper. (via Courtney Johnston)
- Healthcare.gov New Web Model for Government (The Atlantic) — The new site has been built in public for months, iteratively created on Github using cutting edge open-source technologies. Healthcare.gov is the rarest of birds: a next-generation website that also happens to be a .gov.
ENTRIES TAGGED "science"
Technical Bitcoin, Tracking News Flow, Science Advice, and Gov Web Sites
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.
History as Science, Indoor Location, Nightscape Photography, and Finding the Impossible
- Cliodynamics: History as Science — a systematic application of the scientific method to history: verbal theories should be translated into mathematical models, precise predictions derived, and then rigorously tested on empirical material. In short, history needs to become an analytical, predictive science.
- Cricket — indoor location system from MIT. In a nutshell, Cricket uses a combination of RF and ultrasound technologies to provide location information to attached host devices. Wall- and ceiling-mounted beacons placed through a building publish information on an RF channel. [...] The listener runs algorithms that correlate RF and ultrasound samples (the latter are simple pulses with no data encoded on them) and to pick the best correlation. Even in the presence of several competing beacon transmissions, Cricket achieves good precision and accuracy quickly.
- The World at Night — an international effort to present stunning nightscape photos and time-lapse videos of the world’s landmarks against celestial attractions.
- Paul Steinhardt on Impossible Crystals (YouTube) — quasi-crystals with five-fold symmetry previously believed impossible. And then he found one, and led an expedition in 2011 to Chukotka in Far Eastern Russia to find new information about its origin and search for more samples. As you do when you’re the Albert Einstein Professor of Science at Princeton, a job title that comes with no pressure at all to bring home the impossible.
Location Data, Online Science, Mythbusting for Education, and Cheap Music For All
- Reading Runes in Animal Movement (YouTube) — accessible TEDxRiverTawe 2013 talk by Professor Rory Wilson, on his work tracking movements of animals in time and space. The value comes from high-resolution time series data: many samples/second, very granular.
- Best Science Writing Online 2012 (Amazon) — edited collection of the best blog posts on science from 2012. Some very good science writing happening online.
- Designing Effective Multimedia for Physics Education (PDF) — Derek Muller’s PhD thesis, summarised as “mythbusting beats lectures, hands down”. See also his TED@Sydney talk.
- Melomics — royalty-free computer-generated music, all genres, for sale (genius business model). Academic spinoff from Dr. Francisco J. Vico’s work at UMA in Spain.
Deep Learning, Internet of ux Nightmares, Mozilla Science Lab, and Ground-Up Computing
- Weekend Reads on Deep Learning (Alex Dong) — an article and two videos unpacking “deep learning” such as multilayer neural networks.
- The Internet of Actual Things — “I have 10 reliable activations remaining,” your bulb will report via some ridiculous light-bulbs app on your phone. “Now just nine. Remember me when I’m gone.” (via Andy Baio)
- Announcing the Mozilla Science Lab (Kaitlin Thaney) — We also want to find ways of supporting and innovating with the research community – building bridges between projects, running experiments of our own, and building community. We have an initial idea of where to start, but want to start an open dialogue to figure out together how to best do that, and where we can be of most value..
- NAND to Tetris — The site contains all the software tools and project materials necessary to build a general-purpose computer system from the ground up. We also provide a set of lectures designed to support a typical course on the subject. (via Hacker News)
Internet Filter Creep, Innovating in E-Mail/Gmail, Connected Devices Business Strategy, and Ecology Recapitulates Photography
- Australian Filter Scope Creep — The Federal Government has confirmed its financial regulator has started requiring Australian Internet service providers to block websites suspected of providing fraudulent financial opportunities, in a move which appears to also open the door for other government agencies to unilaterally block sites they deem questionable in their own portfolios.
- Embedding Actions in Gmail — after years of benign neglect, it’s good to see Gmail worked on again. We’ve said for years that email’s a fertile ground for doing stuff better, and Google seem to have the religion. (see Send Money with Gmail for more).
- What Keeps Me Up at Night (Matt Webb) — Matt’s building a business around connected devices. Here he explains why the category could be owned by any of the big players. In times like this I remember Howard Aiken’s advice: Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If it is original you will have to ram it down their throats.
- Image Texture Predicts Avian Density and Species Richness (PLOSone) — Surprisingly and interestingly, remotely sensed vegetation structure measures (i.e., image texture) were often better predictors of avian density and species richness than field-measured vegetation structure, and thus show promise as a valuable tool for mapping habitat quality and characterizing biodiversity across broad areas.
Artificial Emotions, 3D Printing Culpability, Mr Zuckerberg Buys Washington, and Pirate Economics
- Nautilus — elegantly-designed science web ‘zine. Includes Artificial Emotions on AI, neuro, and psych efforts to recognise and simulate emotions.
- A Short Essay on 3D Printing — This hands-off approach to culpability cannot last long. If you design something to go into someone’s bathroom, it will make it’s way into their childs mouth. If someone buys, downloads and prints a case for their OUYA and they suffer an electric shock as a result, who is to blame? If a person replaces their phone case with a 3D printed one, and it doesn’t survive a drop to the floor, what then? We need to create a new chain of responsiblity for this emerging, and potentially very profitable business. (via Near Future Laboratory)
- Zuckerberg’s FWD.us PAC (Anil Dash) — One of Mark Zuckerberg’s most famous mottos is “Move fast and break things.” When it comes to policy impacting the lives of millions of people around the world, there couldn’t be a worse slogan. Let’s see if we can get FWD.us to be as accountable to the technology industry as it purports to be, since they will undoubtedly claim to have the grassroots support of our community regardless of whether that’s true or not.
- Pirate Economics — four dimensions of pirate institutions. Not BitTorrent pirates, but Berbers and arr-harr-avast-ye-swabbers nautical pirates. Pirate crews not only elected their captains on the basis of universal pirate suffrage, but they also regularly deposed them by democratic elections if they were not satisfied with their performance. Like the Berbers, or the US constitution, pirates didn’t just rely on democratic elections to keep their leaders under check. Though the captain of the ship was in charge of battle and strategy, pirate crews also used a separate democratic election to elect the ship’s quartermaster who was in charge of allocating booty, adjudicating disputes and administering discipline. Thus they had a nascent form of separation of powers.
Infographics Game, Streaming Money, Robot Interviews, and Inefficient Science Funding
- Metrico — puzzle game for Playstation centered around infographics (charts and graphs). (via Flowing Data)
- The Lease They Can Do (Business Week) — excellent Paul Ford piece on money, law, and music streaming services. So this is not about technology. Nor is it really about music. This is about determining the optimal strategy for mass licensing of digital artifacts.
- How Effective Is a Humanoid Robot as a Tool for Interviewing Young Children? (PLosONE) — The results reveal that the children interacted with KASPAR very similar to how they interacted with a human interviewer. The quantitative behaviour analysis reveal that the most notable difference between the interviews with KASPAR and the human were the duration of the interviews, the eye gaze directed towards the different interviewers, and the response time of the interviewers. These results are discussed in light of future work towards developing KASPAR as an ‘interviewer’ for young children in application areas where a robot may have advantages over a human interviewer, e.g. in police, social services, or healthcare applications.
- Funding: Australia’s Grant System Wastes Time (Nature, paywalled) — We found that scientists in Australia spent more than five centuries’ worth of time preparing research-grant proposals for consideration by the largest funding scheme of 2012. Because just 20.5% of these applications were successful, the equivalent of some four centuries of effort returned no immediate benefit to researchers.
If we want kids to aspire to become scientists and technologists, celebrate academic achievement like athletics and celebrity.
There are few ways to better judge a nation’s character than to look at how its children are educated. What values do their parents, teachers and mentors demonstrate? What accomplishments are celebrated? In a world where championship sports teams are idolized and superstar athletes are feted by the media, it was gratifying to see science, students and teachers get their moment in the sun at the White House last week.
“…one of the things that I’m concerned about is that, as a culture, we’re great consumers of technology, but we’re not always properly respecting the people who are in the labs and behind the scenes creating the stuff that we now take for granted,” said President Barack Obama, “and we’ve got to give the millions of Americans who work in science and technology not only the kind of respect they deserve but also new ways to engage young people.”
An increasingly fierce global competition for talent and natural resources has put a premium on developing scientists and engineers in the nation’s schools. (On that count, last week, the President announced a plan to promote careers in the sciences and expand federal and private-sector initiatives to encourage students to study STEM.
“America has always been about discovery, and invention, and engineering, and science and evidence,” said the President, last week. “That’s who we are. That’s in our DNA. That’s how this country became the greatest economic power in the history of the world. That’s how we’re able to provide so many contributions to people all around the world with our scientific and medical and technological discoveries.”
Master Coding, Rethinking Textbooks, Blocking Open Access, VPN from your Pi
- Analyzing mbostock’s queue.js — beautiful walkthrough of a small library, showing the how and why of good coding.
- What Job Would You Hire a Textbook To Do? (Karl Fisch) — notes from a Discovery Education “Beyond the Textbook” event. The issues Karl highlights for textbooks (why digital, etc.) are there for all books as we create this new genre.
- Neutralizing Open Access (Glyn Moody) — the publishers appear to have captured the UK group implementing the UK’s open access policy. At every single step of the way, the RCUK policy has been weakened. From being the best and most progressive in the world, it’s now considerably weaker than policies already in action elsewhere in the world, and hardly represents an increment on their 2006 policy. What’s at stake? Opportunity to do science faster, to provide source access to research for the public, and to redirect back to research the millions of pounds spent on journal subscriptions.
- Turn the Raspberry Pi into a VPN Server (LinuxUser) — One possible scenario for wanting a cheap server that you can leave somewhere is if you have recently moved away from home and would like to be able to easily access all of the devices on the network at home, in a secure manner. This will enable you to send files directly to computers, diagnose problems and other useful things. You’ll also be leaving a powered USB hub connected to the Pi, so that you can tell someone to plug in their flash drive, hard drive etc and put files on it for them. This way, they can simply come and collect it later whenever the transfer has finished.