14 OCT 2013 by ideonexus

 Everything Won't Become Free at Once

Maybe the coolest technology could get very good and cheap, while at the same time crucial fundamentals for survival could become expensive. The calculi of digital utopias and man-made disasters don’t contradict each other. They can coexist. This is the heading of the darkest and funniest science fiction, such as the work of Philip K. Dick. Basics like water and food could soar in cost even as intensely sophisticated gadgets, like automated nanorobotic heart surgeons, float about as dust i...
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The irony of society is that digital content is growing cheaper as is technology, but food and electricity are growing more expensive.

21 JUN 2012 by ideonexus

 Science Rewards Those Who Disprove

There is a reward structure in science that is very interesting: Our highest honors go to those who disprove the findings of the most revered among us. So Einstein is revered not just because he made so many fundamental contributions to science, but because he found an imperfection in the fundamental contribution of Isaac Newton.
Folksonomies: science criticism
Folksonomies: science criticism
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Einstein is famous for finding a flaw in Newton's contributions.

29 MAY 2012 by ideonexus

 Geologists VS Physicists on the Age of the Earth

Geologists have not been slow to admit that they were in error in assuming that they had an eternity of past time for the evolution of the earth's history. They have frankly acknowledged the validity of the physical arguments which go to place more or less definite limits to the antiquity of the earth. They were, on the whole, disposed to acquiesce in the allowance of 100 millions of years granted to them by Lord Kelvin, for the transaction of the whole of the long cycles of geological histor...
Folksonomies: physics geology
Folksonomies: physics geology
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Geologists argued for a much older Earth than the Physicists allowed for.

01 JAN 2012 by TGAW

 The Problem with Sending Robots to Troubleshoot

Now if a robot is given an order, a precise order, he can follow it. If the order is not precise, he cannot correct his own mistake without further orders. Isn't that what you reported concerning the robot on the ship? How then can we send a robot to find a flaw in a mechanism when we cannot possibly give precise orders, since we know nothing about the flaw ourselves? 'Find out what's wrong' is not an order you can give to a robot; only to a man. The human brain, so far at least, is beyon...

In 1955, in his story "Risk!" Isaac Asimov has Susan Calvin explain the problem with sending robots in to troubleshoot a situation. 57 years later, I find her words to acurately describe why it is hard to hand off certain support tasks to new developers.

09 JUN 2011 by ideonexus

 The Uselessness of Nitrogen in the Atmosphere

My 165-pound body consists of about 110 pounds of oxygen, 30 pounds of carbon, 16 pounds of hydrogen, 6 pounds of nitrogen, and 3 pounds of everything else. Basic stuff, mostly, the stuff of water and air. You'd think we could get almost everything we need to build our bodies by taking deep breaths and gulps of water. But it's not quite that simple. Consider those 6 pounds of nitrogen in my body. Our cells build proteins by stringing together chemical units called amino acids, and every amino...
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Raymo describes how many pounds of each element there are in his body, and why, despite them mostly all existing in the air we breath, they are bound up in molecules so that we cannot access them.

30 MAY 2011 by ideonexus

 Francis Bacon's Only Flaw Was that He Was Not Revolutionary

We do not know what we should admire the most, his rich intuitive views on all subjects or the dignified tone of his style. His writings can be compared only with those of Hippocrates on medicine; and they would be neither less admired nor less read if the cultivation of the mind were as dear to the human race as the conservation of health. But only the writings of leading sectarians can achieve a certain vogue; Bacon was not one of them, and his philosophic method was opposed to this: it was...
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He was too dignified, his philosophy to straightforward to make waves in culture, but his simple idea to look at nature for what it is was a revolutionary idea.

28 MAR 2011 by ideonexus

 Ichabod Crane, America's First Fictional Nerd

[Ichabod Crane] was a native of Connecticut; a State which supplies the Union with pioneers for the mind as well as for the forest, and sends forth yearly its legions of frontier woodsmen and country schoolmasters. The cognomen of Crane was not inapplicable to his person. He was tall, but exceedingly lank, with narrow shoulders, long arms and legs, hands that dangled a mile out of his sleeves, feet that might have served for shovels, and his whole frame most loosely hung together. His head wa...
Folksonomies: anti-intellectualism
Folksonomies: anti-intellectualism
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The Legend of Sleepy Hollow's main character's biggest flaw is that he is a nerd, and after her vanishes, the people move the school and burn some of his books.