Well, a little: new results from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter indicate that over recent geological time, the Moon has shrunk by approximately 100 meters in diameter!
Well, you have to put this into perspective: the Moon’s diameter is about 3475 kilometers. This shrinkage is only about 0.003% of that. In other words, you’d never, ever be able to see that by comparing the Moon’s diameter now as it was, say, a billion years ago.
Since Google Blogger no longer allows FTP publishing (as if Google really needs to cut back on costs), and I am too lazy... er... I mean too busy to turn the blog into a WordPress blog, I have migrated the Stuff I Found blog here! Enjoy!
I'm not sure I really like that blue bar at the top of the page, but it might make editing easier later on, so I'll probably keep it.
Also, I might be switching to a new template here soon... just to spice up the rebirth...
Apparently, new Android development projects have increased some 94 percent since news of the more powerful Google handset leaked out. Games developers, in particular, have shown far more interest, in part due to the fact that developers now have access to Bluetooth connectivity (for multiplayer connections) and support for HTML5, which will allow browser-based web games to behave much more like downloaded apps.
So if you're planning on trying to develop a game or two for Android, I sense it's going to become quite competitive!
Fortunately, though, I think it will be a while before game development for the Android requires large teams, as it does for most current PC and console games. That's one very attractive aspect of it...
Here's an interesting article in which Roger Penrose mentions that he thinks modern quantum physicists are going about the science all wrong, viewing the world as a collection of probabilities instead of as determistic, as it was viewed by Einstein (God does not play dice). I agree with Penrose, mostly just from my own world-view that the universe is completely deterministic, as I certainly don't have the mathematical skills or experimental experience to call myself a physicist.
I think many non-physicists like me, who just have a general interest in the subject, often blindly just believe what they read elsewhere, thinking that it is smart to believe and repeat such things, even though they don't understand it. (They often then apply to MIT and don't get in.)
By the way, I once has an opportunity to hear Roger Penrose give a lecture at George Mason University, but one of my stupid professors scheduled a mid-term for that day, so I couldn't make it. :-( But on the way to the exam, I did have to pass the room he was giving a lecture in, so for a moment, Roger and I were on the opposite sides of the same wall. And that was the closest I got.
Here's a pretty cool article from Wired describing how one "space photographer" creates his space photos, showing how you too can create mind-blowing photos with just time and a few $10,000's of dollars. I found the process to be very interesting, and the results will have you seeing stars.
I only take issue with one thing: this quote:
So, we live in a golden age for space photos, but looking at the technicolor images of what appears to the naked eye to be a fairly bland sky, we find ourselves asking: Does it really look like that?
As we find in this behind-the-scenes look at the making of a mind-blowing space photo, the answer is yes — but just not to your eyes, which are pretty poor sensors, compared with purpose-built astrophotographic equipment.
But that doesn’t mean the photos aren’t "real." Most astrophotographers have an ethic: They won’t add color or lasso just a part of an image for editing. They can only bring things out of the data, not add them. The photos are often processed in Photoshop, but what they do is the opposite of falsifying the visual record. Astrophotographers are using digital-editing tools to find the truth in the noisy data that are the heavens.
Uh... no. "Color" is a qualia, something that only exists because we perceive it. You can't say: "Oh, yes, space is very colorful! We just can't see it." Well, if we can't see it, then it isn't there. If you're using filters to bring out colors, it doesn't matter that your not using Photoshop. You're still creating an unrealistic photograph.
That said, there's nothing wrong with an unrealistic space photo. Just don't defend them as "real." You can't see it with the naked eye. It's not real.
Plans have been in the works for a while to make movies based on (among others) Stretch Armstrong, Hot Wheels, Battleship, and even View-Master. And now plans have been announced for a movie based on LEGO.
Of course, who knows if they'll ever really make it or if if will just sit on the shelf for years like most movie ideas. I look forward to the View-Master movie myself. And then the POG movie. And then the Battle Trolls movie...
You’re not under arrest, despite the fact that you probably have some drugs in your pocket. Because there’s a good chance your paper money contains trace amounts of cocaine. According to a study presented August 16th at the American Chemical Society’s national meeting, up to 90 percent of American paper bills are contaminated with cocaine. In Washington, D.C., it’s as high as 95 percent.
I never quite understood the overpopulation fear. What does it mean to be overpopulated? That we have too many people living on the planet to feed, and some will die? Well, if some die, doesn't that pretty much solve the overpopulation problem? To me it seems like fearing overpopulation is fearing that the Earth will one day support more people than it can... which really makes no sense. If the Earth can only support, say, 22 billion people, then it can only support 22 billion people. You don't have to worry about it going over because it can't.
In other words, population naturally controls itself. If a baby is born and there aren't enough resources to support its survival, it dies, and that's that.
It's like fearing somebody will grow too old to live... Don't worry, when you are too old to live, you will die. You don't have to do anything to make sure you are dead when you should be. It happens by itself.
I guess what really worries people is the thought that we will, as a species, run out of resources and our species will die. Well... yeah!! That's inevitable! There is no human or species that can live forever.
That isn't to say we shouldn't try to prolong it... but I don't think we should fear it.
That said, I don't like some of the things in the video. The whole Texas thing seems to assume that people only need a plot of land to live. It says nothing about all the resources, both biological and psychological, we would all need to survive in such a place. It's not like a plot of land of a specific size is all we need. It doesn't mention food and water distribution, for example. Maybe it is just trying to make a point about physical space, but are advocates of the overpopulation fear arguing that we will all be squished? I haven't heard that argument...
I'm also not so sure about its prediction of the next 30 years... in fact, I'm not sure there's really any scientific way anyone could make an accurate prediction like that... and why does it matter anyway? If the Earth could sustain 100 billion (perhaps with of technological innovations), would that be bad? I don't think so.
This UFO (or whatever) was spotted over the weekend at a theme park that's about an hour away from me.
A few things: 1) That drop ride on the right is really fun! I've been on it quite a few times. 2) King's Dominion said it was a smoke ring from another ride... not entirely unbelievable, but that is strangely stable for a smoke ring. 3) There have been similar sightings of these weird rings in the sky; Google "UFO rings" or "UFO smoke rings." 4) I saw a UFO when I was younger, so although I tend to remain skeptical, I know our alien overlords (or government experiments) are out there somewhere. :-P
A young girl named Kennedy attended the town hall with her father, who was called on to ask a question.
Her father, John Corpus, started his query saying he hoped his daughter wouldn’t get into trouble for missing the last day of school.
“Do you need me to write a note?” Obama asked.
Clearly assuming that Obama was just kidding, Corpus continued with his question — only to be interrupted by the president.
“No, no, I’m serious. What’s your daughter’s name?” Obama said, as he started to write a note.
The student showed the note to her teacher. Because all teachers are Democrats, the teacher accepted the note. She said that she would have to keep it for the records. At first, the student refused to give up the note, because the president's signature was deemed valuable. But the teacher said that if she didn't get to keep the note, she would mark the student absent. In tears, the student gave up the note.
"Look, I love doings things like this," Obama later said. "It takes everybody's mind off politics and real work and allows us to laugh together and be friends and yes we can. Well, look, the student's father thought I was just joking. Having a president who can be funny... on purpose... is good for the American people and it will make people love me more and be team players. It shows that even though I am the Supreme Lord of the World, I am also just an American citizen, sort of. Because, look, I don't have to be serious all the time, just like you people."
The note is currently for sale on eBay and the teacher is preparing to retire.
Many other students have admitted that they plan on being absent from school near Obama. "I want a note too," little Billy Bumbkins told us. "And then I can use it to buy a new TV."
"Look, I love talking to children," Obama said. "They can't disagree with me on anything because they don't have any real opinions. They are the sort of people I always try to surround myself with."
Pretty cool... if game designers will utilize it well. It'd be cool to see this sort of thing on a computer instead of a console, where developers have a bit more development freedom, and hobbyists can join in the fun.
I got the idea for this post from reading this other person's blog post about how people should dress and present themselves at performances. It's not really snobbish, but it did make me wonder: does this blogger understand why she wants what she wants, why certain clothing and hair styles look more "professional" than others? Isn't it subjective? Isn't fashion in general a very strange emergent property? Does this blogger realize that she's just echoing stale fashion traditions?
But then it made me think of the larger issue . . . why is dress attire correlated with the sort of music being played at all? Why do people where bow ties and gowns to play in symphonies, yet at pop and rock concerts, the dress styles are more all-over-the-place? I think listeners experience similar emotions when listening to the music. I don't think rock-n-roll fans say to themselves "I sure wish I liked classical music since they seem to love it more since they dress up more."
And this leads to the even bigger issue . . . why are there so many dang old people at the symphonies and operas? Is it really such an acquired taste that only old people tend to enjoy it? I'm very tempted to think it's because it can be expensive, and snobby old people are willing to pay the price so that they can seem "classy".
So why is classical music the sort of music that attracts snobs who want to dress up and look classy? Maybe it's because classical music is otherwise the least liked musical genre, so it's what snobs cling to and call their own.
All that said, I love classical music. But I loathe that it has to be associated with dressing up in stuffy uncomfortable clothing and looking "classy" and being old. Classical music is just as lively and dynamic and energetic as any rock-n-roll concert. I certainly don't want to see violinists ripping off their shirts, tossing back their long girly hair, doing stage dives, and then doing drugs after the show. But I wouldn't mind seeing a less stuffy "classy" atmosphere, and a more casual fun atmosphere. Classical music is not God. It can make you feel incredible, yes, but it's not God.
And it's a lot of fun; it should be a natural extension of life itself. It should not be kept to the domain of snobs who want to dress up.
This article has some interesting videos showing changes on the planet's surface...
Over the past decade, the number of people on Earth shot up by more than 13 percent, to nearly 6.8 billion people. To make room for all the hungry, breeding, CO2-emitting bodies on our small planet, we’ve ravaged Earth’s surface with staggering feats of deforestation, irrigation and urbanization — and NASA satellites have captured it all. Here are a few videos, compiled from images posted on NASA’s Earth Observatory, of some of the most impressive conquests of man over environment.
Researchers in Japan have pitted human adults against five-year-old chimpanzees in a test of mental agility and memory - and the chimps won.
In a test of short-term memory involving numbers flashed on a computer screen, the apes comfortably beat their human opponents.
This astonishing result, published in the journal Current Biology, shows that in at least some respects our position at the top of the intellectual tree may be a bit shakier than we thought.
So what is going on here? Are chimps really brighter than us, even in this sort of memory test?
And if so, what does this mean for the way that we treat them? After all, how could it be right to lock up creatures more intelligent than ourselves in zoos or laboratories?
Firstly, the article doesn't go into the specifics of the test. Then they conclude that since chimps "won" that they are (or might be) smarter than us. Almost every animal can beat us in something; that doesn't mean they're smarter than us. You might as well say "dogs recently beat humans in a smell recognition contest... so should we really be keeping them on leashes?"
And again the article brings that "apes can learn sign language!" ... uh ... there's still not any very good evidence of that. They can learn to make signs with their hands that can mean something, but there's a huge difference between that and the scope of human language. Dogs can scratch on doors when they want to go outside and relieve themselves, but that's quite different from them trying to talk to you.
And then there's the "mirror test" ... if an animal reacts to itself in the mirror then some conclude that the animal must be self-aware! What exactly does that even mean?
The stupidest thing about this article is that it blathers on and on about what this ground-breaking test must mean for us... we have to change laws and give chimps some human rights! We have to stop thinking of ourselves as so smart compared to animals! Give me a break.