Sunday Starlinks

April 22nd, 2012

Let’s start this week with how some high schools are restricting student speech, about their news of getting into college, to keep other students from feeling bad.  This is evil bullshit.  I mean, imagine you just got into Harvard — or one of many other colleges a lot better per tuition dollar — and you don’t post the news to facebook because it’s forbidden.  That’s a good lesson for our top students, even worse, in my opinion, than trying to teach humbleness and consideration than others through the tool of censorship, and experiment doomed to failure.

Even if you don’t get into the school of your choice, you can make yourself smarter anyway.  I’ve been aware of stuff like this for decades because I was a chess geek and there have been experiments showing chess study leading to improvements in IQ scores.  IQ scores are hardly the be all and end all, but I’d rather have a few extra points in my hip pocket when tackling a tough research problem.

From last week, a nice newspaper article about my buddy and fellow writer Jay Lake and his cancer battle.  He had some good news since then and the cancer has not recurred, but it’ll be a long while before he can say he’s cured, if ever.

Another Chris Mooney article about how liberals and conservatives think differently.

A nice compilation of refutations of climate change denier talking points.  There are years of comments, some very high quality ones, if you follow each point.  And if higher temperatures, wilder weather, ocean acidification weren’t enough, we should also worry about melting glaciers releasing ancient microbes.  On the other hand, melting sea ice opens up opportunities our military is not ignoring.

Dark matter and alternatives.  I’m one of those who thinks the bullet cluster shot MOND dead, although apparently it’s a belly wound rather than a shot through the heart.  Dark energy and alternatives.  Dark energy is a newer discovery/concept and there’s likely more room for alternative ideas, and the one mentioned in the article is one I’ve followed a little.  It seems unlikely.  Still, interesting reading, and it shows that scientists are constantly questioning our ideas.

Biscuit!  The first Tourette’s superhero.  Biscuit!

Bad Astronomy and arstechnica (speculating) on upcoming plans for asteroid mining.  I can’t help but think that someone who could move a big asteroid could also hold the world ransom for…one MILLION dollars!

Habitable zones in other galaxies.  I admit I think about this sort of thing when I write science fiction.

Planet hunter Geoff Marcy getting involved with SETI.

53 reasons we need a new Star Trek tv series.  I’m afraid I only agree with 31 of them.  And as for transporter technology, it isn’t quantum entanglement which doesn’t actually transport matter any distance, no matter what pop science articles say next to a picture of Kirk and the gang on the pads.

Interstellar GPS satellites: pulsars.  This is a nifty idea I have seen before, and will likely steal for a science fiction story in the future.

11 Hardest Jobs to Land.  It starts out highbrow with astronaut and astronomer, but then goes to model and professional athlete, and includes President of the USA.  My job was hard to get, but come on now!

The rise of atheism in America.  They should have had “atheist politician” at the top of the above list.

Science vs. religion debate (video), with Sean Carroll and Michael Shermer vs. some less illustrious thinkers.  Still, debate is a ridiculous way for determining which position is correct.

Physics vs. traffic ticket.  Physics wins.

And if that’s enough to give you physics envy, well, follow up on it!  The linked article, in my opinion, tries to divorce theory from observation in the social sciences and I think it’s an awful idea that will go no where good for the field or our understanding.

450 online courses from top universities, goes to physics.

A hundred years of technology in one graph.  Kind of cool.  Worth a click.

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