Interesting things I've bookmarked (old posts, page 39)

Hacking is Important

The story of every company begins with a clever hack. Pick any company, read its history, and I'm pretty sure there will be a well-documented origin story that will define its beginning and involves someone building something new and possibly of unexpected value. What isn't documented is the story of every moment before where everyone surrounding the hacker asked, "Why the hell are doing you that?", "Why would you take the risk with so little reward?", or "Why are you wasting your time?" What's not documented are the nine spectacular failures the hacker survived before they built one success.

A brief history of the Multiverse

Brian Greene told the audience at TED that the wonder we see is not only mysterious, but a limited-run engagement. Greene is a theoretical physicist who has been engaging the public through books, PBS specials, and by organizing the World Science Festival. Here, Greene was in cosmologist mode, talking about how the Universe is going to change in ways that will fundamentally alter how it can be observed.Astronomers in the far future will not have the beautiful night sky we have. In fact, unless they have our knowledge and scientific records, they will think that the Universe is a dark, static and unchanging place. Why will our night sky go black? The expansion of our Universe will eventually push other galaxies so far from us that we will no longer see them, even with advanced equipment. Light cannot overcome all distances, Greene said, describing a future where all we can see are the galaxies in our immediate neighborhood.

Kepler finds heaps of exoplanet candidates

Nasa has announced that 1,091 new transiting extrasolar planet candidates have emerged in data received from planet-hunting space telescope, Kepler. It brings the total count up to 2,321 exoplanet candidates.That number comes from data spanning May 2009 to September 2010, where nearly 5,000 periodic planetary transit-like signals (where a planet passes in front of a star, revealing its presence) were received, and subsequently vetted against known phenomena that could be masquerade as a transit.An example: eclipsing binary stars. When two stars orbit each other and block each others' light, it can look like a planetary transition.The data shows a clear trend towards finding smaller planets at longer orbital periods -- meaning planets more like Earth than like Jupiter. This latest data dump contains over 200 Earth-size candidates and more than 900 that are smaller than super-Earths (double our planet's 12,756km diameter).

How We Won the Hominid Wars

How did our species come to rule the planet? Rick Potts argues that environmental instability and disruption were decisive factors in the success of Homo sapiens: Alone among our primate tribe, we were able to cope with constant change and turn it to our advantage. Potts is director of the Smithsonian Institution's Human Origins Program, curator of anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., and curator of the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins, which opened at that museum last year. He also leads excavations in the East African Rift Valley and codirects projects in China that compare early human behavior and environments in eastern Africa with those in eastern Asia. Here Potts explains the reasoning behind his controversial idea.

Autodidacticism

But no matter what you think about formal education, it has one thing going for it: The separation of teacher and student. Ideally, while the teacher has an interest in the student's success, the teacher does not rely on the student's influence. The teacher can fail the student. The teacher can force the student to learn things that are not fun or interesting. A student who just wants to learn enough to get a job can be forced to learn things that "Won't be asked in the interview." A student who loves the recreational aspects of computer science can be dragged away from optimizing his personal HashLife project and told to get cracking on understanding principles of large-scale software architecture.

Why I'm a Pirate!

I would pay for such a service if it is as simple, as fast and, unlike the Bay, if it can make some guarantees on the quality. But you don't offer that. Instead, you are trying to build fences and limitations. You are asking for huge amount of money only through credit card and you don't have half the music I'm looking for. That's not convenient and it's more expensive.