Rand reviews this year's happenings in space policy: launch failures, budget issues, a reusable launch vehicle program, and private space initiatives, to name a few.
The Rael Deal: Susan Palmer of the Dawson College Religion Department gives a detailed background of the Raelians. They are in the spotlight this week with their claims of a successful birth of a cloned child and, judging from Palmer's article, are probably basking in it. [via A Voyage to Arcturus]
An Æolian harp is an ancient Greek instrument played by the winds (or Æolus). At the The Æolian Interface Project researchers attempted to create a MIDI interface to such a harp. The design team discovered that wind did not move strings enough for a pickup to detect. Instead, they used sensors to detect wind speed and direction and translate that input into music. There, unfortunately, doesn't seem to be any sound clips.
Thought Communication: in which Stephen Bush and Amit Kulkarni advance the notion that emergent behavior in active networks will lay the foundation for a radical change in the amounts and types of information which can be transmitted over a network, possibly leading to the ability to move structures representing the human thought process between collaborators.
The Complexity Complex: on the study of complex systems and some of the various forms they can show up in: biological systems, exploding stars, and condensed matter.
A definition of the nature of complexity, Kadanoff says, "has been somewhat elusive." But if one were to try, "what we see is a world in which there seems to be organization built up in some rich and interesting fashion--from huge mountain ranges, to the delicate ridge on the surface of a sand dune, to the salt spray coming off a wave, to the interdependencies of financial markets, to the true ecologies formed by living things. For each kind of organization, we want to understand how it arose and whether it has any general rules associated with it."
[via evacuate & flush]
The Diary of Samuel Pepys: Starting next Wednesday, this site will have a new entry from this 17th century diary posted each day, complete with notes on the people and places mentioned by Pepys and annotations from readers. [via Leuschke]
Albert Bartlett on sustainability:
The related terms, "sustainable" and "sustainability" have become popular and are used to describe a wide variety of activities which are generally ecologically laudable. At the same time, the term "compromise" is heard more frequently because the needs of the environment often are in conflict with the needs of humans. A brief examination of the question of compromise shows that a series of ten compromises, each of which saves 70% of the remaining environment, results in the saving of only 3% of the environment.
- Marginalization of Malthus: a continuation of Reflections on Sustainability...
The language of chess is very sexual. I mean, what are you supposed to think when somebody declares that they're going to mate you in five moves so you might as well surrender now?
[via Daze Reader]
- Religious Movements Homepage:Raelians
- Brigitte Boisselier's testimony to Congress during the debates on cloning last year.
- Who am I? - Severino Antinori: a tongue-in-cheek profile of the doctor who seems to have been beaten out in the race for the first clone
[via Metafilter in a round about way]
Robert Kirk: Walker Between Worlds: the full text of R.J. Stewart's book containing a modern English translation of Kirk's The Secret Commonwealth, which was originally written in 1691 and documents the little people of Celtic tradition.
[via The Daily Grail]
I've been away from this place for a while. I've paid little attention to the world for a few months, which kind of made it difficult to put my random notes on things happening in the world here. Am I back? We'll find out.
I seem to have some catching up to do.
Judi Bari Home Page: documenting the career of an Earth First! activist who was disabled by a bombing in 1990 during a logging protest. She and a friend were quite publically investigated, but never charged, by both the Oakland police and FBI for planting the bomb underneath the driver's seat of their car. A few months ago, they won a civil rights lawsuit stemming from the investigation. Judi did not live to see the case play out.
Soundstage Audio Theatre: you might say I'm biased, and you'd probably be right, but these guys are good.
Preserving Software: Why and How: on keeping the legacy software for future generations to study and say, "huh?"
Where are the early UNIVAC operating systems? The first FORTRAN/COBOL/ ALGOL compilers?
ID theorists posit that living things, due to their organizational complexity and magnificent design, simply must be the creations of some form of intelligence. Where evolutionary biologists see species evolving through a blind process of natural selection acting over millions of years, ID theorists assert that life as we know it simply could not have arisen in such a manner. Furthermore, they claim that this is a scientific observation. ID advocates don't always articulate precisely what sort of intelligence they think should stand in lieu of evolution on textbook pages, but God -- defined in a very nebulous way -- generally outpolls extraterrestrials as the leading candidate.
[via Arts & Letters Daily]
After talking to a range of working scientists and researchers, it is relatively easy to come up with a short list of the hot button topics in genetics and their likely progress over, say, the next 10 years. The consensus about what can and cannot (and may never be) done is not complete, but it is impressive. There is more than enough on the agenda to keep everyone busy without worrying about designer babies - or Frankenstein's monsters either.
The list goes like this: pre-implantation genetic diagnosis; germ-line therapy and gene therapy, which together comprise what most people think of as 'genetic engineering'; cloning; stem-cell research; ageing; and the impenetrably named pharmacogenetics, which could turn out to be the most useful of all.
[via also not found in nature]