15 FEB 2015 by ideonexus

 AI View of AI, Scaling Wars

The artilects, as they have been conceived so far in this book, have been largely "nanoteched" creatures. But nanotechnology may be unnecessarily restrictive and far too large a scale to be suitable for advanced artilects. It may be possible that a "femtoteched" creature could be built. Such "femto-artilects" or "femtolects" as they will be called from now on, would be vastly superior to "nano-artilects" or "nanolects," thus setting the stage for a new "species dominance war" all over again. ...
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13 MAR 2014 by ideonexus

 Mathematics Should be Taught Like Art

Imagine you had to take an art class in which you were taught how to paint a fence or a wall, but you were never shown the paintings of the great masters, and you weren't even told that such paintings existed. Pretty soon you'd be asking, why study art? That's absurd, of course, but it's surprisingly close to the way we teach children mathematics. In elementary and middle school and even into high school, we hide math's great masterpieces from students' view. The arithmetic, algebraic equati...
Folksonomies: education mathematics
Folksonomies: education mathematics
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Instead of introducing kids to the basics, introduce them to the great works.

15 NOV 2013 by ideonexus

 The World is a Black Box

The world with its quarks and chromosomes, its distant lands and spiral nebulae, is like a vast computer in a black box, forever sealed except for its input and output registers. These we directly observe, and in the light of them we speculate on the structure of the machine, the universe. Thus it is that we think up the quarks and chromosomes, the distant lands and the nebulae; they would account for the observable data. When an observation turns out unexpectedly, we may try modifying our th...
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We don't know how it works, we only see the inputs and outputs and must extrapolate hypotheses from what we see.

29 MAY 2012 by ideonexus

 On Naming the Quark

In 1963, when I assigned the name 'quark' to the fundamental constituents of the nucleon, I had the sound first, without the spelling, which could have been 'kwork.' Then, in one of my occasional perusals of Finnegans Wake, by James Joyce, I came across the word 'quark' in the phrase 'Three quarks for Muster Mark.' Since 'quark' (meaning, for one thing, the cry of a gull) was clearly intended to rhyme with 'Mark,' as well as 'bark' and other such words, I had to find an excuse to pronounce it...
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It comes from "Finnegans Wake" and occurs in threes.

14 APR 2012 by ideonexus

 The Matter / Antimater Imbalance in the Universe

Physicists have long pondered the problem and may have an answer. It seems that just before the universe was one millisecond old, matter and antimatter annihilated each other in a sweeping extinction. But a tiny asymmetry was built into the universe so that matter dominated over antimatter by one part out of 100 billion. Why the built-in asymmetry? In the first 100 billion-billion-billionth of a second of the universe's history, particles called X particles and their antiparticles were create...
Folksonomies: physics antimatter matter
Folksonomies: physics antimatter matter
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In less than the first second of the Universe's existence, 1/100 billionth of the matter was left over from the annihilation with antimatter.

12 DEC 2011 by ideonexus

 The Four Forces of Nature

1. Gravity. This is the weakest of the four, but it is a long-range force and acts on everything in the universe as an attraction. This means that for large bodies the gravitational forces all add up and can dominate over all other forces. 2. Electromagnetism. This is also long-range and is much stronger than gravity, but it acts only on particles with an electric charge. being repulsive between charges of the same sign and attractive between charges of the opposite sign. This means the ele...
Folksonomies: physics laws laws of nature
Folksonomies: physics laws laws of nature
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Gravity, Electromagnetism, the Strong and Weak Nuclear Forces with brief descriptions.

A summary of points from this conference session about portraying scientists in fiction and getting science facts right:

  • Hollywood blockbusters carry so much weight, need to get more science into this medium
  • Scientists need to be telling their own stories. There are only about 120 books about scientists.
  • What does it mean for a story to accurately portay science? Getting scientific facts right? Or scientists reacting in a way scientists should react? Believes stories are about people, making them more important than the facts.
  • Star Trek: Starhip Mine: “terrorists steal MacGuffin juice from the warp core” Barrion sweep on the enterprise, but barrions are in all atoms. LOL Cats as up and down quarks. Maybe the Barrions in ST were exotic sub-space barrions. We can use the episode to teach proper science.
  • 2012 had a ridiculous premise, but the scientists were awesome.
  •  Michael Crighton: Climate Change book was silly, Andromeda Strain was silly
  • Jennifer: Percival’s Planet, example of good science story about the discovery of Pluto
  • Science presented without scientific process is just magic.
  • "Tron Legacy" was awful, but for me Tron, had Unix commands, mentioned genetic algorithms, I got much more enjoyment out of the film than the average viewer. Would including something about the game of life or evolving programs through natural selection make the film more interesting? The screenwriters were obviously familiar with the concepts, why did they shy away from giving the film more depth?