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Biweekly links for 01/15/2010

by Michael Nielsen on January 15, 2010
  • Smart phones blessed in Canon David Parrott’s 3G church service
    • “Yesterday, in the church of the City of London Corporation, he presented an updated version of Plow Monday, an observance that dates from medieval times. On this day, the first Monday after Twelfth Night, farm labourers would bring a plough to the door of the church to be blessed… Men and women coming to [the modern] church no longer used ploughs; their tools were their laptops, their iPhones and their BlackBerries. So he wrote a blessing and [delivered] it before a congregation of 80, the white heat of technology shining from his every pronouncement. “I invite you to have your mobile phone out … though I would like you to put it on silent,” he said. This was Church 2.0. Behind him, the altar resembled a counter at PC World. Upon it, laid out like holy relics, were four smart phones, one Apple laptop and one Dell. When he [delivered] his sermon, the melody of a million ringtones played on the organ. One almost expected Canon Parrott to bellow: “Hello! I’m just giving a service!””
  • Software Carpentry
    • For the past few years, Greg Wilson at the University of Toronto has run an interesting project called Software Carpentry. It’s a boot camp for scientists to learn the skills they need to do scientific computing, introducing powerful techniques that programmers (but not scientists) often learn, like source control, automated testing, and so on. Greg’s hoping to scale the course up in a big way, and this post has some details of what he’s planning, and what he needs to get this done.
  • Engelbartbookdialogues’s Blog
    • “In the spirit of Creative Commons non commercial license we are posting the ENTIRE text of the book “The Engelbart Hypothesis: Dialogs with Douglas Engelbart” in this blog.”
  • Chemistry Seminar – Science 2.0
    • Dan Gezelter’s course on Science 2.0. Looks like fun, and has lots of great links on the subject, many of them new to me.
  • Science in the Open: What can be done? What should be done?
    • Excellent talk from Cameron Neylon.
  • The Total Growth of Open Source
    • Fascinating paper from Amit Desphande and Dirk Riehle studying the growth of open source software. Suggests that the total volume of code is now well over 1 billion lines, and growing at a rate of several hundred million lines per year.
  • Modern Physics: A Complete Introduction | Open Culture
    • Very interesting: 120 hours of lectures from Lenny Susskind, covering the basics of modern physics.
  • Stefanie Bowles on Dan Ariely on people’s choices
    • “We don’t know our preferences very well as humans. We like to think that we decide everything, but we function within choice architectures which impact what we chose. He then asked the audience if they could think of 3 or 10 reasons why they love their significant other. Turns out people can usually only think of 3, and that most people run out of reasons! People are very influenced in the moment and get confused with too much data—he likes to use this on his students to ask them 15 ways the class can be improved. People’s preferences are not fully formed.”

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One Comment
  1. With regard to the topic “The Future of Science” … and recognizing that this topic is closely linked to the “The Future of the Planet”, perhaps followers of Michael’s blog will be interested to take a look at McSweeney’s Quarterly Review #32, which is a theme issue on life in the year 2024.

    One interesting story was Sheila Heti’s There is no time in Waterloo, which is (broadly) about the Perimeter Institute (it includes a credit to Sean Gryb, Aaron Berndsen, Julian Barbour, and Lee Smolen). Another interesting story is Jim Morrison’s The Netherlands lives with water.

    Both stories are pretty dystopian; they amount to to a future in which science has evolved into theorem-proving to such a degree that free will—in young people especially—is extinguished by the resulting constraints upon imagination (Heti’s story). Then a whole bunch of people drown (in Shepard’s story) as the world heats up and the oceans rise.

    Ouch! Surely we can do better than that. Can’t we?

    ——
    @periodical{***, Author = {Jim Shepard}, Journal = {McSweeney’s Quarterly Review}, Pages = {189–212}, Title = {The {N}etherlands lives with water}, Volume = {32}, Year = {2010}}

    @periodical{***, Author = {Sheila Heti}, Journal = {McSweeney’s Quarterly Review}, Pages = {147–157}, Title = {There is no time in {W}aterloo}, Volume = {32}, Year = {2010}}

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