02 JUN 2015 by ideonexus

 Metaphor in Science

Metaphor in science, Boyd suggests, is a version of the everyday process in which a metaphor is pressed into service to fill gaps in a language’s vocabulary, like rabbit ears to refer to the antennas that used to sprout from the tops of television sets. Scientists constantly discover new entities that lack an English name, so they often tap a metaphor to supply the needed label: selection in evolution, kettle pond in geology, linkage in genetics, and so on. But they aren’t shackled by the...
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19 MAR 2015 by ideonexus


Now, with respect to literature, authors are frequently faced with the task of re-explaining and restating background material that has been explained well elsewhere. If you could just borrow that material, those existing good explanations, and incorporate them (with automatic credit where due), your efforts could be spent stating what is new. We introduce the concept of transclusion to separate the arrangement of a document from its content. There is an underlying shared pool of contents, an...
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From Mark S. Miller's "The Open Society and Its Media"

22 FEB 2015 by ideonexus

 Scent as Data in a Beehive

To shield her antennae from the many bruising signals in the air, she walked with her head low. Air currents and electrical pulses from thousands of bees rippled against her, but Flora ignored them all. The pulsing track alone held her focus, clear and simple across the perilously busy lobby, where she had to slow down because of the tempest of data underfoot. A rush of workers came through in a tumult of scent and Flora lifted her head—then the rhythm of the foot-current drew her on. She ...
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06 NOV 2014 by ideonexus

 Human Communication with Matrioshka Brains

Communication between humans and MB is essentially pointless.  The computational capacity difference between a MB and a human is on the order of 1016 (ten million billion) times greater than the difference between a human and a nematode (~109)!  A single MB can emulate the entire history of human thought in a few microseconds.  It is important to consider that intelligence may not be a linear process.  There is a rather large difference between the...
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29 OCT 2014 by ideonexus

 How to Argue with a Creationist

Nye did not win, because he was fighting the wrong war. Nye argued like a scientist. He presented the evidence, gave logical explanations, and generally relied on demonstrable facts. He did a flawless job, but changed absolutely no-one's mind, because anyone who cares about science, reason and evidence already accepts evolution. Ham didn't even really argue. He just riled people up for a crusade - it was the evil liberal commie atheists trying to teach satan's lies, and him and his book of ...
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Don't use science, use religious rhetoric.
21 JUN 2014 by ideonexus

 The Rate of Change of a Rate of Change

In scientific thought we adopt the simplest theory which will explain all the facts under consideration and enable us to predict new facts of the same kind. The catch in this criterion lies in the word 'simplest'. It is really an aesthetic canon such as we find implicit in our criticisms of poetry or painting. The layman finds such a law as dx/dt = K(d^2x/dy^2) much less simple than 'it oozes', of which it is the mathematical statement. The physicist reverses this judgment, and his statement ...
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21 JUN 2014 by ideonexus

 The Problem of Communicating With Scientists

One of the great problems of the world today is undoubtedly this problem of not being able to talk to scientists, because we don't understand science; they can't talk to us because they don't understand anything else, poor dears.
Folksonomies: science communication
Folksonomies: science communication
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24 JAN 2014 by ideonexus

 Scientific Instruction is a Craft

Scientific instruction is a craft. This is because skill in a science, knowledge of its diverse aspects, and mastery of it are the result of a habit.... The easiest method of acquiring the scientific habit is through acquiring the ability to express oneself clearly in discussing and disputing scientific problems. This is what clarifies their import and makes them understandable.
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...and the best way to learn a scientific discipline is to teach it.

14 OCT 2013 by ideonexus

 Introverts Thrive Online

Studies have shown that, indeed, introverts are more likely than extroverts to express intimate facts about themselves online that their family and friends would be surprised to read, to say that they can express the “real me” online, and to spend more time in certain kinds of online discussions. They welcome the chance to communicate digitally. The same person who would never raise his hand in a lecture hall of two hundred people might blog to two thousand, or two million, without thinki...
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Possibly because it is a world of ideas?

11 OCT 2013 by ideonexus

 The Power of the Chinese Ideogram

As everyone knows, the Chinese do not have letters, as we do, but symbols for whole words. This has, of course, many inconveniences: it means that, in learning to write, there are an immense number of different signs to be learnt, not only 26 as with us; that there is no such thing as alphabetical order, so that dictionaries, files, catalogues, etc., are difficult to arrange and linotype is impossible; that foreign words, such as proper names and scientific terms, cannot be written down by so...
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Phonetic alphabets change over time as the sounds of the language drift, by decoupling the sounds of the language from the alphabet, the Chinese have produced a written language that can survive thousands of years.