Jim al-Khalili talks to the astronomer Jocelyn Bell Burnell about missing out a Nobel Prize, sexism in science and a strange smudge in the data from a radio telescope. While others dismissed this smudge as insignificant, Jocelyn revealed a series of strange flashing signals. They might have been evidence of faulty radio telescope or even messages from a little green man; but Jocelyn thought otherwise and her determination to get to the bottom of it all, led to one of the most exciting discoveries in 20th century astronomy, the discovery of pulsars, those dense cores of collapsed stars.
Tagged with “science” (88)
RSA Thursday 24th Jan 2013; 13:00 (full recording including audience Q&A)
When we think of the scientific method, we imagine an experimenter in his laboratory following a series of steps that runs something like this: make some observations about a phenomenon; create a hypothesis to explain those observations; design an experiment to test the hypothesis; run the experiment; see if the results match your expectations; rework your hypothesis if you must; lather, rinse, and repeat. Simple seeming enough.
But how can we go beyond that? Can we train our minds to work like that automatically, all the time, through a mindful, present approach to our everyday thinking and decision making?
Sherlock Holmes teaches us to do not only that, but to go a step beyond: by using his methodology and applying the mindfulness that has come to characterise the scientific method to our lives, we can learn to optimise not only our own everyday existence but our broader contributions to society and the lives of those around us.
Speaker: Maria Konnikova, author and columnist
Chair: Vikki Heywood CBE, RSA Chair
Data scientist Edward Tufte (dubbed the "Galileo of graphics" by BusinessWeek) pioneered the field of data visualization. Tufte discusses what he calls "forever knowledge," and his latest projects: sculpting Richard Feynman’s diagrams, and helping people "see without words."
‘Molecular gastronomy’ was coined in the 1991 as a suitably serious-sounding term that would help pave the way for a conference on culinary science.
Since then, however, it has become a convenient, catch-all-phrase to describe science-driven cooking. It explains little and misleads a lot.
In 2006 Heston was involved in producing a statement to explain how his motivations and intentions weren’t confined to the sphere of molecular gastronomy.
ONE Three basic principles guide our cooking: excellence, openness, and integrity.
We are motivated above all by an aspiration to excellence. We wish to work with ingredients of the finest quality, and to realize the full potential of the food we choose to prepare, whether it is a single shot of espresso or a multicourse tasting menu.
TWO Our cooking values tradition, builds on it, and along with tradition is part of the ongoing evolution of our craft.
The world’s culinary traditions are collective, cumulative inventions, a heritage created by hundreds of generations of cooks. Tradition is the base which all cooks who aspire to excellence must know and master. Our open approach builds on the best that tradition has to offer.
THREE We embrace innovation - new ingredients, techniques, appliances, information, and ideas - whenever it can make a real contribution to our cooking.
We do not pursue novelty for its own sake. We may use modern thickeners, sugar substitutes, enzymes, liquid nitrogen, sous-vide, dehydration, and other nontraditional means, but these do not define our cooking. They are a few of the many tools that we are fortunate to have available as we strive to make delicious and stimulating dishes.
FOUR We believe that cooking can affect people in profound ways, and that a spirit of collaboration and sharing is essential to true progress in developing this potential.
The act of eating engages all the senses as well as the mind. Preparing and serving food could therefore be the most complex and comprehensive of the performing arts. To explore the full expressive potential of food and cooking, we collaborate with scientists, from food chemists to psychologists, with artisans and artists (from all walks of the performing arts), architects, designers, industrial engineers. We also believe in the importance of collaboration and generosity among cooks: a readiness to share ideas and information, together with full acknowledgment of those who invent new techniques and dishes.
Social science is often concerned with the emergence of collective behavior out of the interactions of large numbers of individuals; but in this regard it has long suffered from a severe measurement problem - namely that interactions between people are hard to measure, especially at scale, over time, and at the same time as observing behavior.
In this talk, Duncan will argue that the technological revolution of the Internet is beginning to lift this constraint. To illustrate, he will describe four examples of research that would have been extremely difficult, or even impossible, to perform just a decade ago:
Using email exchange to track social networks evolving in time Using a web-based experiment to study the collective consequences of social influence on decision making Using a social networking site to study the difference between perceived and actual homogeneity of attitudes among friends Using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to study the incentives underlying ‘crowd sourcing’ Although internet-based research still faces serious methodological and procedural obstacles, Duncan proposes that the ability to study truly ‘social’ dynamics at individual-level resolution will have dramatic consequences for social science.
"As a working hypothesis to explain the riddle of our existence," says Freeman Dyson, "I propose that our universe is the most interesting of all possible universes, and our fate as human beings is to make it so." One of the characteristics of diversity—in science, in technology, in biology, in culture, in software, or in children—is that the underlying programming tends to be open source, or connected in all directions. Freeman Dyson and George Dyson think in all directions, but each filters through a particular lens: Freeman Dyson writes about the future and George Dyson writes about the past. This discussion, moderated by Tim O’Reilly, goes in both directions. Questions from the audience are invited either spontaneously or in advance. (Unfortunately the third Dyson, Esther, was unable to participate, having been stuck in Texas.)
This keynote presentation was recorded at the Open Source Convention (OSCON) 2004 in Portland, Oregon.
On the eve of dConstruct 2012, Jeremy Keith hosts an evening of readings and chat with three of the brightest stars of the science-fiction world at the Pavilion Theatre in Brighton.
- Lauren Beukes, author of Moxyland, Zoo City, and The Shining Girls.
- Jeff Noon, author of Vurt, Automated Alice, and Channel SK1N.
- Brian Aldiss OBE, author of Hothouse, Nonstop, and the Helliconia trilogy.
Event details: http://brightonsf.adactio.com/
Kenneth Turan reviews the film Total Recall, based on a story by Philip K. Dick and a remake of another film from the 1990, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Dr. Mae Jemison was the first black woman in space. Now, she’s leading a wildly ambitious project: to achieve interstellar travel in the next 100 years. She’s with us.
Think Star Trek and you won’t be far off. A new Pentagon project is putting out seed money for interstellar travel. Humans, rambling around among the stars. It’s called the 100 Year Starship project. It’s as wildly ambitious as just about anything you can imagine.
The spaceship, its energy source, its passengers’ survival – full-blown or just as DNA… all giant challenges. Not to mention that we’re sort of broke and not even flying space shuttles right now. Leader of the new effort: astronaut Mae Jemison, the first black woman in space. She’s with us.
This hour, On Point: the 100 Year Starship.
The idea of exploiting the natural resources on asteroids has been around for more than a century. But a new company called Planetary Resources has the financial backing of some big names in high tech, and hopes to launch specially-designed prospecting spacecraft within two years.
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