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John Murrin
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John Murrin

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So we've showed a few projects you could do using pallets, like your own outdoor swimming pool and furniture. If you're creative enough, there are infinite
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by Jonathan Kujawa On "Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension" by Matt Parker. I came dangerously close to not becoming a mathematician. Like many people my experiences with math in school left me irritated and bored. I...
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This has animation.written all over it.
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The rise of the machines!
Google's AI subsidiary DeepMind has a program that has just beaten a human Go expert. Now it could tackle complex real-world problems like climate modelling
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It’s difficult to cover a conspiracy with too many involved, a formula from an Oxford University physicist suggests.

It's difficult to cover a conspiracy with too many involved, a formula from an Oxford University physicist suggests.
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Facts And Figures

The rotational axis of the Earth is tilted about 23 degrees away from its orbital axis. Or, according to one introductory science textbook, 23.5 degrees. It’s very important, the book goes on to stress, that you remember 23.5. It’s one of the facts you should memorize apparently. Which irks me on two levels. The first being that Earth’s axial tilt is closer to 23.44 degrees, but the second being that I don’t care. And neither should you.

Sure, you could argue that one should have a general idea of how much the Earth is tilted, but it’s vastly more important that you know the consequences of the axial tilt. That axial tilt (and not the distance from the Sun) is what drives our seasons, which explains why January is cold in New York, but warm in Sydney. Someone who understands this, but only knows the tilt is “about 20 degrees” clearly has a better understanding of the universe than someone who simply knows “the tilt of the Earth is 22.44 degrees.”

I’ve been reading through several introductory science texts as background for a children’s outreach project, and the emphasis on random facts is disappointing. It also makes for a poor representation of what science is all about. Sure, we need precise measurements and experimental results, but unless you’re working on a specific measurement, the actual value is less important than its connection to other results. So what if the speed of light in a vacuum is 299,792,458 m/s? It’s better to know that it’s a universal constant, and through relativity we know that measurements of time and space depend upon the reference frame of the observer.

While most scientists have memorized many of the values they regularly use, we still look up values all the time. I can recite things like the speed of light, the gravitational constant and the charge of an electron to a few decimal places, but ask me to recite something like the Rydberg constant, and I’m at a loss. I know it relates to the spectral lines of an ideal hydrogen atom, but I’d still have to look up its value. I simply don’t use it enough to have it memorized.

So don’t sweat it if you’ve ever struggled and failed to memorize facts and figures. They aren’t as important as they seem.
How much is the Earth tilted? I don't care. And neither should you.
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Have him in circles
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If we canceled history classes in high schools across the world and replaced them with YouTube videos about history, kids would learn so much more. I just sat through this wonderful 10-minute video on the history of Japan by Bill Wurtz without even skipping ahead because it was so riveting and funny and fast paced. In fact, the video (as silly as it was) was so well done that it actually makes you want to learn more about the history of Japan (wh...
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Funny!
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Consciousness may be the product of carefully balanced chaos | Science | AAAS

'Is my yellow the same as your yellow? Does your pain feel like my pain? The question of whether the human consciousness is subjective or objective is largely philosophical. But the line between consciousness and unconsciousness is a bit easier to measure. In a new study of how anesthetic drugs affect the brain, researchers suggest that our experience of reality is the product of a delicate balance of connectivity between neurons—too much or too little and consciousness slips away.

[...]

In order to look for the signature of consciousness in the brain, Tagliazucchi and his colleagues used a drug called propofol—an anesthetic drug used in surgery—to induce loss of consciousness in participants while they were inside an fMRI machine’s scanner. fMRI works by tracking blood flow in the brain, which can be used as a real-time proxy for electrical activity when neurons fire. The team recorded data from 12 participants in states of wakefulness, ongoing sedation, unconsciousness, and recovery.

The results, published online today in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, show that brain activity varies widely between conscious and unconscious states. The difference may come down to how the brain “explores the space of its own possible configurations,” Tagliazucchi says.'

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/01/consciousness-may-be-product-carefully-balanced-chaos

Large-scale signatures of unconsciousness are consistent with a departure from critical dynamics | Journal of The Royal Society Interface

'... Abstract

Loss of cortical integration and changes in the dynamics of electrophysiological brain signals characterize the transition from wakefulness towards unconsciousness. In this study, we arrive at a basic model explaining these observations based on the theory of phase transitions in complex systems. We studied the link between spatial and temporal correlations of large-scale brain activity recorded with functional magnetic resonance imaging during wakefulness, propofol-induced sedation and loss of consciousness and during the subsequent recovery. We observed that during unconsciousness activity in frontothalamic regions exhibited a reduction of long-range temporal correlations and a departure of functional connectivity from anatomical constraints. A model of a system exhibiting a phase transition reproduced our findings, as well as the diminished sensitivity of the cortex to external perturbations during unconsciousness. This framework unifies different observations about brain activity during unconsciousness and predicts that the principles we identified are universal and independent from its causes.
...'

http://rsif.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/13/114/20151027
Brain scans reveal importance of maximizing configurations among neurons
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Watch the hidden portrait that was found underneath the surface of the Mona Lisa!
Video: http://buff.ly/1QA68dW

#art #arts
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Why Does the CIA Keep Its Art Collection Secret?

'Twenty-nine abstract Washington Color School paintings hang in the halls of the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia. But unless you’re one of the CIA’s undisclosed number of employees, your chances of ever seeing these paintings, or even digital images of them, are pretty slim. As Portland-based artist Johanna Barron has discovered, the CIA keeps much information about its art collection top secret.

Several years ago, when Barron saw a photo by Taryn Simon of two abstract paintings hung in a CIA hallway, she wanted to learn more about the agency’s art collection, but its website only had brief blurbs on a few artworks. Barron filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the agency, hoping they’d provide her with more details and images. But despite several more FOIA requests, the CIA repeatedly refused to give Barron any information about the Melzac Collection.
...'

http://hyperallergic.com/259987/why-does-the-cia-keep-its-art-collection-secret/
Twenty-nine abstract Washington Color School paintings hang in the halls of the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia. But unless you’re one of the CIA’s undisclosed number of employees, your cha…
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