Tagged with “science” (652)

  1. Neal Stephenson, “Seveneves”

    Neil Stephenson’s novels, including The Baroque Trilogy and Reamde, are a dazzling blend of imagination and science, philosophy and history. His new novel, SEVENEVES, starts with the end of the world. This epic follows the descendants of the exiled Earthlings to their new outpost at the far reaches of the cosmos. The population grows, divides into seven races and ultimately returns to the long-abandoned home, which is unlike anything they have previously experienced.

    Founded by Carla Cohen and Barbara Meade in 1984, Politics & Prose Bookstore is Washington, D.C.’s premier independent bookstore and cultural hub, a gathering place for people interested in reading and discussing books. Politics & Prose offers superior service, unusual book choices, and a haven for book lovers in the store and online. Visit them on the web at http://www.politics-prose.com/

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  2. Think Culture Is a Space Opera? Nah, It’s a Trojan Horse | WIRED

    In the latest ‘Geeks’ Guide to the Galaxy’ podcast, Simone Caroti discusses his critical survey of the Culture series by sci-fi author Iain Banks.

    http://www.wired.com/2016/06/geeks-guide-iain-banks/

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  3. BBC World Service - Discovery, “Faster, Better, Cheaper”

    Kevin Fong explores the success and failure of NASA’s missions to Mars

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p041b4k4

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  4. BBC World Service - Discovery, The Alien Equation

    50th anniversary of the equation that launched the search for ET.

    Kevin Fong celebrates the anniversary of one of the most iconic equations ever written. The Drake Equation was created by Frank Drake some half a century ago in a bid to answer one of the most profound questions facing science and humanity: are we alone? Its creation launched a 50 year, genuine scientific endeavour to search for ET, known as SETI: The Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence. Kevin visits the SETI Institute in Northern California, to meet the great man himself, Frank Drake, and some of his scientific colleagues who have spent most of their working lives hunting for signs of alien life, out there in the cosmic ether.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p009rtr0

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  5. BBC World Service - Discovery, The Feynman Variations

    Brian Cox presents a tribute to Richard Feynman.

    Widely regarded as the finest physicist of his generation and the most influential since Einstein, Feynman did much to popularise science, through lectures, books and television, not least his revelation at a press conference in which he demonstrated the exact cause of the Challenger Shuttle explosion in 1986.

    Described as the ‘Mozart of physics’, Feynman’s amazing life and career seemingly had no end of highlights.

    A student at MIT and then Princeton (where he obtained an unprecedented perfect score on the entrance exam for maths and physics), he was drafted onto the Manhattan Project as a junior scientist.

    There his energy and talents made a significant mark on two of the project’s leaders, Robert Oppenheimer and Hans Bethe.

    The latter would become Feynman’s lifelong mentor and friend.

    Bethe called his student "a magician", setting him apart from other scientists as ‘no ordinary genius’.

    In 1965, Feynman shared a Nobel Prize for his unique contribution to the field of Quantum Electrodynamics making him the most celebrated, influential and best known American Physicist of his generation

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00b6djp

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  6. Kevin Kelly: How technology evolves | TED Talk | TED.com

    Tech enthusiast Kevin Kelly asks "What does technology want?" and discovers that its movement toward ubiquity and complexity is much like the evolution of life.

    https://www.ted.com/talks/kevin_kelly_on_how_technology_evolves?language=en

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  7. BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Comets

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    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss comets, the ‘dirty snowballs’ of the Solar System. In the early 18th century the Astronomer Royal Sir Edmond Halley compiled a list of appearances of comets, bright objects like stars with long tails which are occasionally visible in the night sky. He concluded that many of these apparitions were in fact the same comet, which returns to our skies around every 75 years, and whose reappearance he correctly predicted. Halley’s Comet is today the best known example of a comet, a body of ice and dust which orbits the Sun. Since they contain materials from the time when the Solar System was formed, comets are regarded by scientists as frozen time capsules, with the potential to reveal important information about the early history of our planet and others.

    With:

    Monica Grady Professor of Planetary and Space Sciences at the Open University

    Paul Murdin Senior Fellow at the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge

    Don Pollacco Professor of Astronomy at the University of Warwick

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01pw38n

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  8. BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, The Moon

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the origins, science and mythology of the moon. Humans have been fascinated by our only known satellite since prehistory. In some cultures the Moon has been worshipped as a deity; in recent centuries there has been lively debate about its origins and physical characteristics. Although other planets in our solar system have moons ours is, relatively speaking, the largest, and is perhaps more accurately described as a ‘twin planet’; the past, present and future of the Earth and the Moon are locked together. Only very recently has water been found on the Moon - a discovery which could prove to be invaluable if human colonisation of the Moon were ever to occur. Mankind first walked on the Moon in 1969, but it is debatable how important this huge political event was in developing our scientific knowledge. The advances of space science, including data from satellites and the moon landings, have given us some startling insights into the history of our own planet, but many intriguing questions remain unanswered. With:Paul MurdinVisiting Professor of Astronomy at Liverpool John Moores UniversityCarolin CrawfordGresham Professor of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge Ian CrawfordReader in Planetary Science and Astrobiology at Birkbeck College, London.Producer: Natalia Fernandez.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b016lh15

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  9. Brian Christian: Algorithms to Live By - The Long Now

    Solving hard decisions

    Deciding when to stop your quest for the ideal apartment, or ideal spouse, depends entirely on how long you expect to be looking, says Brian Christian.

    The first one you check will be the best you’ve seen, but it’s unlikely to be the best you’ll ever see.

    So you keep looking and keep finding new bests, though ever less frequently, and you start to wonder if maybe you refused the very best you’ll ever find.

    And the search is wearing you down.

    When should you take the leap and look no further?

    The answer from computer science is precise: 37% of the way through your search period.

    If you’re spending a month looking for an apartment, you should calibrate (and be sorely tempted) for 11 days, and then you should grab the next best-of-all you find.

    Likewise with the search for a mate.

    If you’re looking from, say, age 18 to 40, the time to shift from browsing and having fun to getting serious and proposing is at age 26.1.

    (However, if you’re getting lots of refusals, “propose early and often” from age 23.5.

    Or, if you can always go back to an earlier prospect, you could carry on exploring to age 34.4.)

    This “Optimal Stopping” is one of twelve subjects examined in Christian’s (and co-author Tom Griffiths’) book, Algorithms to Live By.

    (The other subjects are: Explore/Exploit; Sorting; Caching; Scheduling; Bayes’ Rule; Overfitting; Relaxation; Randomness; Networking; Game Theory; and Computational Kindness.

    An instance of Bayes’ Rule, called the Copernican Principle, lets you predict how long something of unknown lifespan will last into the future by assuming you’re looking at the middle of its duration—hence the USA, now 241 years old, might be expected to last through 2257.)

    Christian went into detail on the Explore/Exploit problem.

    Optimism minimizes regret.

    You’ve found some restaurants you really like.

    How often should you exploit that knowledge for a guaranteed good meal, and how often should you optimistically take a chance and explore new places to eat?

    The answer, again, depends partly on the interval of time involved.

    When you’re new in town, explore like mad.

    If you’re about to leave a city, stick with the known favorites.

    Infants with 80 years ahead are pure exploration— they try tasting everything.

    Old people, drawing on 70 years of experience, have every reason to pare the friends they want to spend time with down to a favored few.

    The joy of the young is discovering.

    The joy of the old is relishing.

    —Stewart Brand

    http://longnow.org/seminars/02016/jun/20/algorithms-live/

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  10. BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Michael Faraday

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    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the eminent 19th-century scientist Michael Faraday. Born into a poor working-class family, he received little formal schooling but became interested in science while working as a bookbinder’s apprentice. He is celebrated today for carrying out pioneering research into the relationship between electricity and magnetism. Faraday showed that if a wire was turned in the presence of a magnet or a magnet was turned in relation to a wire, an electric current was generated. This ground-breaking discovery led to the development of the electric generator and ultimately to modern power stations. During his life he became the most famous scientist in Britain and he played a key role in founding the Royal Institution’s Christmas lectures which continue today.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06s9rz9

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