• "One way to illustrate that most technologies are, in fact, pretty "hi," is to ask yourself of any manmade object, Do I know how to make one?

    Anybody who ever lighted a fire without matches has probably gained some proper respect for "low" or "primitive" or "simple" technologies; anybody who ever lighted a fire with matches should have the wits to respect that notable hi-tech invention." Ursula le Guin with strong truth about technology and science fiction.

  • "I don't usually do in-depth analyses of my bots, especially one that's probably not gonna break ten followers, but my most recent bot is very personal to me, and the making of it turned out to be much stranger than I expected. It's The Bot of Mormon, "the most correct bot", a text-generating process with a very niche audience but the niche audience includes me, so I'm happy." Great, detailed post from Leonard on making programattic jokes: his explanation of the ongoing struggle to make the bot entertaining is good, and the solution he comes to smart.
  • "A wood and brass sound synthesizer built by Max Kohl after the design by Hemholtz. 39½ x 29 inch mahogany base with turned feet, fitted with 11 small wooden platforms, each marked with a number and the words "aus" [from] and "ein" [to], 10 of the platforms fitted with tuning forks and accompanying brass Helmholtz resonators, the tallest measuring 18½ high, each pair ranging in size according to their graduating frequencies, 11th platform fitted with 1 large horizontal master tuning fork." Oh my.
  • "When I was a child in school, the fact that the laws of nature seemed to be permanent and immutable, compared to the laws of the state, made science most attractive to me. And I recall as a kid in school, a physics experiment—and my also mischievous pleasure that even these overwhelming, secular authorities couldn’t change the direction of a beam of electrons." And it goes from there. Ursula Franklin sounds quite remarkable.
  • "You know, maybe aliens know all this, and we’re come-latelies to the whole comprehending-everything thing, but there isn’t really any more you can do in our current Universe than this. It’s the top thing. It is everything. This makes us amazing." James has basically said everything about our trip to CERN that is worth saying. This is all true. It was great and humbling. I'd also point out that every time you step out, you're under the Alps, and they're also phenomenal and humbling.
  • " For our project, we had to find three scenes from any movie or TV show and use physics to find out if something was or wasn't possible. I got 100% on it." In this case: 'Physical Impossibilities in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic'. He's really not wrong about the animation.
  • "Steven Strogatz, an award-winning professor, takes readers from the basics to the baffling in a 15-part series on mathematics. Beginning with a column on why numbers are helpful, he goes on to investigate topics including negative numbers, calculus and group theory, finishing with the mysteries of infinity." Lovely series of online articles at the NYT explaining maths. Lots of good stuff.
  • ""The Iraq War: A Historiography of Wikipedia Changelogs" is a twelve-volume set of all changes to the Wikipedia article on the Iraq War." James is brilliant, but I knew that already. This is quite a thing.
  • "You never see anyone using a slide rule in a film. Matinee idol scientists always work out algorithms unaided in their brilliant minds, or scrawl them manically in chalk on giant blackboards. By the same token that unfairly condemns people with colour-coded ring binders as the owners of overly tidy minds, slide rules are supposed to belong only to the pedantic foot soldiers of science, the plodders who have to show us their workings out. But slide rules are lovely things: pleasingly solid, elegantly mysterious in their markings, the perfect marriage of form and function." Joe Moran on slide rules and scientists.