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Biweekly links for 01/01/2010

by Michael Nielsen on January 1, 2010
  • Marginal Revolution: Asteroid Deflection as a Public Good
    • “In Modern Principles we use asteroid deflection as our example of a public good. Aside from memorability, the example has two virtues as a teaching tool. First, asteroid deflection is a true public good for all of humanity which raises free riding issues on a worldwide scale. Second, asteroid deflection is an example of a public good that is currently provided neither by the market nor by government. Thus the example underlines the fact that public goods are defined by their characteristics–nonexcludability and nonrivalry–and not by whether they are publicly provided, a point of confusion for many students.”
  • Confessions of a Converted Lecturer: Eric Mazur
    • Eric Mazur: “I thought I was a good teacher until I discovered my students were just memorizing information rather than learning to understand the material. Who was to blame? The students? The material? I will explain how I came to the agonizing conclusion that the culprit was neither of these. It was my teaching that caused students to fail! I will show how I have adjusted my approach to teaching and how it has improved my students’ performance significantly.”
  • Carbon theater « Jon Udell
    • A great phrase from Jon Udell: doing things that merely appear to reduce CO_2 emissions.
  • “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom”
    • An appreciation of Feynman’s famous talk from nanotechnology pioneer Eric Drexler
  • Quantum Computers LLC
    • Who knew?: “Quantum Computers LLC has been producing Custom Built Computers since 1997. We originally started building High End Desktop models for customers who wanted Top of the Line Systems. In 2002 we began producing computers for Medical Offices, Chiropractors and Biofeedback Specialists. Today we design & build both Desktop and Notebook computers for almost every application. In just a short period of time, our reputation has travelled the globe, and we have become one of the best Specialty Computer suppliers in the USA.

      Quantum Computers are currently being used in 28 countries that we know of”

  • Should Copyright of Academic Works Be Abolished? by Steven Shavell
    • “The conventional rationale for copyright of written works, that copyright is needed to foster their creation, is seemingly of limited applicability to the academic domain. For in a world without copyright of academic writing, academics would still benefit from publishing in the major way that they do now, namely, from gaining scholarly esteem… suggesting that ending academic copyright would be socially desirable in view of the broad benefits of a copyright-free world. If so, the demise of academic copyright should probably be achieved by a change in law, for the “open access” movement that effectively seeks this objective without modification of the law faces fundamental difficulties. “
  • The REAL story of Avatar is in the ecology
    • Spoilers (of a sort) for Avatar ahead: “Pandora is a post-Singularity world. Some time ago the Na’vi achieved sentience, built incredibly advanced computers, and created the technology necessary to upload their consciousnesses into these computers. Those who embraced technology saw huge advantages to living in the simulated world and departed their physical planet. However, some Na’vi chose to shun technology because they valued a deep connection with nature and the life of the noble savage. “

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