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Tag: science

In which I am yet again inspired by gaming tech:

In which I am yet again inspired by gaming tech:

Remember this? Jon lay on a white leather divan, utterly unaware. The two girls who sat beside him every day in literature class were drawing on him with calligraphy brushes. They had duct taped tracked pens to each brush. A little remote infrared camera sat atop a humming portable projector. Another camera sat on a tripod beside it. On a monitor at their feet, Violet watched a digital iteration of Jon’s supine body slowly acquiring each mark, each brushstroke. The…

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Quotable quotes:

Quotable quotes:

Today, I thought that I would share this article on the death of rave culture and how Frederic Jameson predicted it, originally posted by Bruce Sterling. But then at Scalzi’s I saw, this, er, piece on why human penises look the way they do. Which led to this particular money shot: Hopefully you’re thinking as an evolutionary psychologist at this point and can infer what these survey data mean: by using their penises proficiently as a semen displacement device, men are…

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the rules of fitness

the rules of fitness

I’ve been thinking about natural selection a lot, lately (and not just because I picked up Natalie Angier’s The Canon the other day). Turns out Bruce Cohen explains Darwin’s concept of “fitness” pretty well: Survival or mortality selection – Organisms that survive at least to the end of their reproductive phase are fitter than those who don’t, because they’re likely to have more offspring. Mating success or sexual selection – Many species have some form of mate selection process which…

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"..in form and moving how express and admirable!"

"..in form and moving how express and admirable!"

(Via Bruce Sterling, who I have wanted to email all week but have been too shy.) This is A-Pod. She’s been described elsewhere as both a robotic ant, and a harbinger of our eventual demise. While both descriptions may be factually true (the latter requires more time to bear out), neither grasps at her beauty. When I watch A-Pod’s video, I feel like a relative staring at a fetal ultrasound and anticipating what new life will someday emerge from that…

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Can the Church baptize robots?

Can the Church baptize robots?

I was raised Catholic. I should know the answer to this. But somehow it just never came up, in catechism. If you asked me what various theologians would have to say on the issue, I might be able to speculate (Augustine would likely say no, on the grounds that robots have no soul to save; Aquinas wouldn’t know his own mind until he wrote a 13-volume treatise on the subject; Benedict would probably consider their rote behaviour as Godlike in…

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Why we should teach evolution:

Why we should teach evolution:

“We are evolving every year, every decade. That’s a fact, whether it is to the intensity of the sun, whether it is to, as a chiropractor, walking on cement versus anything else, whether it is running shoes or high heels, of course we are evolving to our environment….” —Canadian Science Minister Gary Goodyear, responding to criticism about his refusal to answer whether he believed in evolution It would be easy to criticise Minister Goodyear for not “believing” in evolution despite…

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Science can be lame, too.

Science can be lame, too.

Since writing more SF, I pay more attention to science. Doing so allows me to examine global conflict and development from another angle, one more intimately connected to reason and research than strained appeals ethics that we are all only presumed to share. My interest in and appreciation for the field consequently makes me twice as baffled and frustrated when I hear about utter wastes of time, effort, and resources like the Anti-Mosquito Laser. Now, astrophysicist Jordin Kare from the…

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Everything old is new again. Like Lamarckism.

Everything old is new again. Like Lamarckism.

Via Futurismic, we hear of demonstrable Lamarckism in mice: The effects of an animal’s environment during adolescence can be passed down to future offspring, according to two new studies. If applicable to humans, the research, done on rodents, suggests that the impact of both childhood education and early abuse could span generations. The findings provide support for a 200-year-old theory of evolution that has been largely dismissed: Lamarckian evolution, which states that acquired characteristics can be passed on to offspring….

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Inside your brain is an abusive soccer dad.

Inside your brain is an abusive soccer dad.

Via Pink Tentacle, some news about one of the mortal sins (and everybody’s favourite Homunculus), envy: New research from Japan shows that the human brain treats feelings of envy like physical pain, while schadenfreude — the pleasure derived from another person’s misfortune — triggers the brain’s reward circuits. The findings, published in the February 13 online edition of Science magazine, suggest our brains may be wired to treat abstract feelings much more like concrete physical experiences than was previously thought….

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Build your own supercomputer! With PS3's!

Build your own supercomputer! With PS3's!

DIY guide now available! Mr. Ashby IM’d me frantically this afternoon to let me know about this little development, and I sent it along to BoingBoing with equal haste: Last year, Khanna’s construction of a small supercomputer using eight Sony-donated Playstation 3 gaming consoles made headlines nationwide in the scientific community. On the consoles, he is solving complex equations designed to predict the properties of gravitational waves generated by the black holes located at the center of the galaxies. “Science…

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