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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘science

[NEWS] Five science links: Homo sapiens and Neanderthal art, squirrel smarts, tree talk, SN 2016gkg

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  • The suggestion that there is a relationship between the acoustics of particular caves and the art that early humans painted on those cave walls is fascinating. National Geographic reports.
  • The Neanderthals, archeologists working in Spain have determined, created art. The idea of a significant gap between their cognition and ours seems less and less likely. CBC reports.
  • It turns out that the grey squirrels of North America may be smarter than the red squirrels of Great Britain. This may explain much about the greys’ success in the reds’ homeland. National Geographic reports.
  • The idea of there being secret, easily overlooked, yet powerful communications networks connecting trees fascinates me. Vaster than empires and more slow, indeed. Quartz reports.
  • Back in 2016, through sheer luck and an excellent amateur model, Argentine amateur astronomer Victor Buso happened to catch supernova SN 2016gkg in NGC 613 from the very start of the visible explosion. Popular Science reports.

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

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  • Kambiz Kamrani at Anthropology.net notes new findings suggesting that the creation of cave art by early humans is product of the same skills that let early humans use language.
  • Davide Marchetti at Architectuul looks at some overlooked and neglected buildings in and around Rome.
  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait explains how Sirius was able to hide the brilliant Gaia 1 star cluster behind it.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at new procedures for streamlining the verification of new exoplanet detections.
  • Crooked Timber notes the remarkably successful and once-controversial eroticization of plant reproduction in the poems of Erasmus Darwin.
  • Dangerous Minds notes how an errant Confederate flag on a single nearly derailed the career of Otis Redding.
  • Detecting biosignatures from exoplanets, Bruce Dorminey notes, may require “fleets” of sensitive space-based telescopes.
  • Far Outliers looks at persecution of non-Shi’ite Muslims in Safavid Iran.
  • JSTOR Daily looks at the history of the enslavement of Native Americans in early colonial America, something often overlooked by later generations.
  • This video shared by Language Log, featuring two Amazon Echos repeating texts to each other and showing how these iterations change over time, is oddly fascinating.
  • At Lawyers, Guns and Money, Erik Loomis is quite clear about the good sense of Will Wilkinson’s point that controversy over “illegal” immigration is actually deeply connected to an exclusivist racism that imagines Hispanics to not be Americans.
  • Lingua Franca, at the Chronicle of Higher Education, looks at the uses of the word “redemption”, particularly in the context of the Olympics.
  • The LRB Blog suggests Russiagate is becoming a matter of hysteria. I’m unconvinced, frankly.
  • The Map Room Blog shares a map showing global sea level rise over the past decades.
  • Marginal Revolution makes a case for Americans to learn foreign languages on principle. As a Canadian who recently visited a decidedly Hispanic New York, I would add that Spanish, at least, is one language quite potentially useful to Americans in their own country.
  • Drew Rowsome writes about the striking photographs of Olivier Valsecchi.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel notes that, in the 2030s, gravitational wave observatories will be so sensitive that they will be able to detect black holes about to collide years in advance.
  • Towleroad lists festival highlights for New Orleans all over the year.
  • Window on Eurasia notes how recent changes to the Russian education system harming minority languages have inspired some Muslim populations to link their language to their religion.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell makes the case that Jeremy Corbyn, through his strength in the British House of Commons, is really the only potential Remainder who is in a position of power.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait tells us what tantalizing little is known about Proxima Centauri and its worlds.
  • Centauri Dreams imagines that, for advanced civilizations based on energy-intensive computing, their most comfortable homes may be in the cool dark of space, intergalactic space even.
  • D-Brief notes an effort to predict the evolution of stick insects that went in interesting, if substantially wrong, directions.
  • Mark Graham notes that, in the developing world, the supply of people willing to perform digital work far outweighs the actual availability of jobs.
  • Mathew Ingram announces that he is now chief digital writer for the Columbia Journalism Review.
  • JSTOR Daily explores how consumerism was used, by the United States, to sell democracy to post-war West Germany.
  • Language Hat explores the script of the Naxi, a group in the Chinese Himalayas.
  • Paul Campos considers at Lawyers, Guns and Money the importance of JK Galbraith’s The Affluent Society. If we are richer than ever before and yet our living standards are disappointing, is this not the sort of political failure imagined?
  • Russell Darnley takes a look at how the death of a community’s language can lead to the death of that community’s ecosystem.
  • Jason Davis at the Planetary Society Blog considers the possibility of the ISS being replaced by privately-owned space stations.
  • Dmitry Ermakov at Roads and Kingdoms shares some photos from his ventures among the Finno-Ugric peoples of Russia.
  • Peter Rukavina shares a black-and-white photo of Charlottetown harbour covered in ice.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel makes the point that cancelling NASA’s WFIRST telescope would kneecap NASA science.

[NEWS] Five links on artificial intelligence (#artificialintelligence, #ai)

  • Jessica Riskin at the Public Domain Review explores the automata, the pre-Babbage mechanical creations that were humanity’s first effort at artificial intelligence.
  • Katrina Onstad at Toronto Life profiles Gregory Hinton, the Toronto AI researcher who pushed the idea of neural networks–ancestor to modern-day deep learning–into the mainstream of AI research.
  • Reverse-engineering the workings of the human brain would be a good way to learn how to build durable AIs. Wired makes the case.
  • The Economist notes one central problem with modern AI is its inscrutability to outside scrutiny. How can the workings of an AI be shown, made visible?
  • Gizmodo notes a report on AI warning that, without adequate regulation and preparation, artificial intelligence could have a destabilizing, even strongly negative, impact on the world of the imaginable future.

[PHOTO] Three photos of two meteorites at the AMNH (@amnh)

Ahnighito, a fragment of the massive Cape York meteorite that itself masses 31 tons, is immense. The fact that the museum was able to transfer this fragment from its Greenland home to here is itself an achievement. The displayed fragment of the similar Sikhote-Alin meteorite, which impacted the Russian Maritime Territory in 1947 is smaller, but the fact of these fragments’ existence–shards of solid iron bodies sheared into pieces by the force of impact–is humbling. The universe is so vast.

Me and Ahnighito #newyorkcity #newyork #manhattan #ahnighito #ahnighitometerorite #meteorite #iron #amnh #americanmuseumofnaturalhistory #latergram #greenland

Ahnighito #newyorkcity #newyork #manhattan #amnh #ahnighito #ahnighitometeorite #greenland #meteorite #americanmuseumofnaturalhistory #latergram

Fragment of Sikhote-Alin #newyorkcity #newyork #manhattan #amnh #sikhotealin #meteorite #iron #siberia #russianfareast #primorye #americanmuseumofnaturalhistory #latergram

[BLOG] Some Sunday links

  • James Bow makes the case for inexpensive regional bus transit in southern Ontario, beyond and between the major cities.
  • D-Brief explains why Pluto’s Gate, a poisonous cave of classical Anatolia believed to be a portal to the netherworld, is the way it is.
  • The Dragon’s Tales takes a look at the plethora of initiatives for self-driving cars and the consequences of these for the world.
  • Far Outliers takes a look at how Persia, despite enormous devastation, managed to eventual thrive under the Mongols, even assimilating them.
  • JSTOR Daily notes the connections between North American nuclear tests and the rise of modern environmentalism.
  • Language Hat looks at Linda Watson, a woman on the Isle of Man who has became the hub of a global network of researchers devoted to deciphering unreadable handwriting.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money makes the argument that the Russian hacks were only as effective as they were because of terrible journalism in the United States.
  • The NYR Daily takes a look at an often-overlooked collaboration in the 1960s between New York poet Frank O’Hara and Italian artist Mario Schifano.
  • Towleroad takes a look at out gay pop music star Troye Sivan.
  • Window on Eurasia makes the believable contention that Putin believes in his propaganda, or at least acts as if he does, in Ukraine for instance.

[NEWS] Five links on life and intelligence both near and far: ‘Oumuamua, ET, blue whales, orangutans

  • Craig Welch at National Geographic notes how scientists, by carefully decoding the songs of blue whales, are figuring out how they are leading their lives.
  • Sarah Gibbens at National Geographic notes a new study suggesting that, since 1999, hunting and environmental devastation has reduced the orangutan population of Borneo by almost half, by 150 thousand individuals. This sounds almost like genocide.
  • Universe Today notes evidence that ‘Oumuamua had a very violent past.
  • Nadia Drake at National Geographic explores the recent study suggesting that, unless there were signs of menace, most people actually would react well to news of extraterrestrial life.
  • Vikram Zutshi at Open Democracy recently suggested that contact with extraterrestrial intelligence could be good for the Earth, might even help us save it. Certainly this civilization would have survived the Great Filter; certainly it’s a corrective to lazy assumptions of automatic menace.