10 MAR 2019 by ideonexus

 Estimating Technical Progress

Overestimating the potential upside of every new sign of tech progress is as common as downplaying the downsides. It's easy to let our imaginations run wild with how any new development is going to change everything practically overnight. The unforeseen technical roadblocks that inevitably spring up are only one reason for this consistent miscalculation. Human nature is simply out of sync with the nature of technological development. We see progress as linear, a straight line of improvement. ...
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25 OCT 2017 by ideonexus

 Children's Art Has Its Own Logic

Even simple scribbles are meaningful. While it was once thought that kids only scribbled to experience the physical sensation of moving their arm along the page, “now it’s been shown that when children are scribbling … they’re representing through action, not through pictures,” said Boston College’s Winner. “For example, a child might draw a truck by making a line fast across the page and going ‘zoom, zoom,’ and so it doesn’t look like a truck when the child is done, but i...
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This reminds me of Sagan's pumpkin-carving, where he made random cuts and took out chunks to make it scarier with more "bloody guts."

25 MAY 2015 by ideonexus

 Martin Rees: We'll Never Hit Barriers To Scientific Under...

We humans haven't changed much since our remote ancestors roamed the African savannah. Our brains evolved to cope with the human-scale environment. So it is surely remarkable that we can make sense of phenomena that confound everyday intuition: in particular, the minuscule atoms we're made of, and the vast cosmos that surrounds us. Nonetheless—and here I'm sticking my neck out—maybe some aspects of reality are intrinsically beyond us, in that their comprehension would require some post-h...
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12 DEC 2011 by ideonexus

 Earth's Curve, Flat Maps, and the Fastest Route Between T...

Imagine, say, that you wanted to travel from New York to Madrid, two cities that are at almost the same latitude. If the earth were flat, the shortest route would be to head straight east. If you did that, you would arrive in Madrid after traveling 3,707 miles. But due to the earth's curvature, there is a path that on a flat map looks curved and hence longer, but which is actually shorter. You can get there in 3,605 miles if you follow the great-circle route. which is to first head northeast,...
Folksonomies: geometry models maps
Folksonomies: geometry models maps
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Because the Earth is a sphere and maps are flat, the fastest route between two points on a map is actually a curved line and airlines take this into account when plotting flight paths.

03 SEP 2011 by ideonexus

 Focusing Light Increases Heat Where Focused

The sun's rays proceed from the sun along straight lines and are reflected from every polished object at equal angles, i.e. the reflected ray subtends, together with the line tangential to the polished object which is in the plane of the reflected ray, two equal angles. Hence it follows that the ray reflected from the spherical surface, together with the circumference of the circle which is in the plane of the ray, subtends two equal angles. From this it also follows that the reflected ray, t...
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Alhazan's famous observations on reflecting the sun's rays and bending light.