Sci/Math/Prog Summary: January 2018

Interesting stuff I came across last month:

An old control room
An old soviet control room
  • It’s now possible to create a stable plasma ring without all the magnets

“We were told by some colleagues this wasn’t even possible. But we can create a stable ring and maintain it for as long as we want, no vacuum or magnetic field or anything,” says co-author Francisco Pereira of the Marine Technology Research Institute in Italy, a visiting scholar at Caltech.

The stream of water is an 85-micron-diameter jet blasting from a specially designed nozzle at 9,000 pounds per square inch that strikes the crystal plate with an impact velocity of around 1,000 feet per second. For reference, that’s a stream narrower than a human hair moving about as fast as a bullet fired from a handgun.

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Media Summary: December 2017

Detail from the frontispiece to the 1863 edition of Collin de Plancy’s Dictionnaire infernal

Some interesting links for the month:

  • Apparently, millenials “hate Capitalism”
  • My “long read” pick of the month: Lapham’s Quarterly has an article called The Ghost and the Princess, discussion Descartian origins of the mind-body split-view, the “princess” being Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia, with whole Descartes corresponded on this subject (!)
  • On the economic/political “holding pattern” of the world right now
  • Late night comedy seems quite useless, almost overtaken by reality.
  • (this month’s art book pick) A “synthesis of the Enlightenment and the occult” in a hundred and fifty year old illustrated book, Jacques Collin de Plancy’s Dictionnaire infernal
  • The New Yorker found one of its fiction pieces was interpreted as journalism

When we look to our texts to teach us not how to think, but what to think, we suffer for it — as artists and consumers of art, but also as citizens. We further collapse the distinction between truth and lies, fact and fiction …

Sci/Math/Prog Summary: December 2017

 

Galaxy Sizes
Large galaxies (exluding IC 1101)

Interesting stuff from the last month:

Media Summary: November 2017

Some interesting links for the month:

Moscow 1968
Moscow, 1968

 

“Let me furnish the amusements of the nation and there will be need of very few laws,” P. T. Barnum, the great impresario of the circus, told the New York Sun in 1880. In his essay “Superman Comes to the Supermarket,” Norman Mailer noted a strange depression at the 1960 Democratic convention, which didn’t make any sense until he saw John F. Kennedy in the flesh:

“I understood the mood of depression which had lain over the convention, because finally it was simple: the Democrats were going to nominate a man who, no matter how serious his political dedication might be, was indisputably and willy-nilly going to be seen as a great box-office actor, and the consequences of that were staggering and not at all easy to calculate.”

We are now living in the world Barnum and Mailer predicted. The United States has become a histriocracy. We are ruled by celebrity. Whether or not Trump himself is in power will not change this fact.

  • Bit of a bizarre trivia piece from Atlas Obscura.
  • Trends come and go in campus politics
  • Since ‘nation-scale cyberattacks’ are in the imagination again, this piece on how it first happened in Estonia, in 2007.
  • I’m going to keep plugging Inherent Vice as something you should watch, this time through a Youtube montage.
  • Fun to hear Frank Herbert talk (!) about the “origins of Dune” (original recording, from Feb 1969)
  • If you still aren’t persuaded of the extra-ordinary intelligence of octopuses, read this
  • If you’re up for a long-form article on liberty, individuals etc. try this piece

For us, too, bearing the duties and responsibilities of freedom without being prepared for them poses great dangers, especially the danger of abandoning our liberty in return for security or the passing pleasures and distractions of our abundant age. This danger is avoidable only if we take the long way to liberty, the way that prepares us through the practice of responsibility and through the formation and refinement of our souls.

Sci/Math/Prog Summary: November 2017

A 1994 University of Minnesota alumni magazine spread featuring the Gopher protocol architects.

Interesting stuff from the past month:

Media Summary: October 2017

Some interesting links for the month:

Aerial view of Ur, 1927.
Aerial view of Ur, 1927

Sci/Math/Prog Summary: October 2017

Interesting stuff from the past month:

  • I feel the old “static typing vs dynamic typing” debate has gotten more nuanced recently with ‘spec’ and ‘schema’ in Clojure (i.e. better, fine-grained, runtime constraints). Also, as this article shows, there is a different “sweet spot” for different companies/people, which colors their perceptions of usefulness.
  • Cool antique stuff: check out this machine that debuted at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York.
  • A fake interview with Linus Torvalds on Linux and Git, which made me smile 🙂
  • A balanced look at Urbit (not fawning, and not hating). If you’re curious, read this next.
  • You knew the moon affected the earth by its gravity, causing tides; but did you know it’s light was also influential?
  • Presented as idle curiosity: “Git bombs
  • Squids are marvellous creatures
  • Allen Wirfs-Brock gives a fascinating account of Smalltalk, and what it’s really about.
  • LIGO wasn’t just about discovering Gravitational Waves (and winning a nobel!) … it has also explained Gamma Rays, and the origin of heavy elements.
  • Inertia.
  • Someone’s journey developing a new Forth (ignore if you don’t know what that is).
  • As the subtitle of this text points out: “Once, robots assisted human workers. Now it’s the other way around.”
  • Cool weird trains of the past: duplex railway!
  • Been using Tinderbox for less than a year, but I share this person’s opinion.