Weekend Reading

Data shows that Venezuela benefited greatly under Hugo Chavez. How does such a significant positive change of this magnitude get completely buried by the US media's dislike for a person?

More money, certis paribus, makes you happier. The evidence for this has been accumulating for the last five to ten years.

The first images of individual atoms forming molecules has been produced, and they look just like the chemistry text book said they would.

Recommended Reading

The universe is immensely large.
To try imagining how big, place a penny down in front of you. If our sun were the size of that penny, the nearest star, Alpha Centauri, would be 350 miles away. Depending on where you live, that’s very likely in the next state (or possibly country) over.
In our ever expanding knowledge of: animals are basically just like us. Rats appear to have empathy. Also in the article, rats will share food and give up chocolate in order to help another rat.

Who are the 1%? They tend to vote Republican even if they aren't more conservative. They tend to have far more education with a simple caveat - being highly educated doesn't guarantee vast membership in the top 1%:
This is not to say that college degrees guarantee vast wealth. To the contrary, only a small fraction of all Americans who report having a postgraduate education (1.5%) or an undergraduate degree but no postgraduate education (0.8%) fall into the top 1% category.
And Some videos in order of educational - funny.

Via Freakonomics:


Slowing Down Time

A group of scientists made a camera which shoots 0.6 trillion frames per second. As per explaining my million, billion trillion obsession - 0.6 trillion is 600 billions or 600,000 millions - frames per second. High speed camera = the ability to see things happen very slowly by playing the footage back at a normal rate. We can now see light as it travels (!).

Why isn't this on the NYT front page? Why are all the magazines in the grocery checkout isle feckless and base? The availability of media and physical goods reflects the desires of those able to purchase them. Thus, the world is built for people who love 12 oz. light beers, football, and Maxim magazine.

This Weeks Videos

This Carl Sagan video is a must see. I've blogged about him before as he is easily one of the most insightful humans to have every existed.

An interview with Al Jean, the executive producer of the Simpsons, explains to the NYT the now infamous Banksy opening.

One of the better TED talks I've seen in a while. It's about mycelium - mushrooms.

Who Are We?

Just a quick note.

The US is the best country in the world because we do things that other people think won't work or can't be done. Not because we are the most fair or have the best healthcare or because our foreign policy is even tolerable. No, people look up to us because we get shit done.

Well, congress is thinking of shutting down the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) project that NASA has been working on since 1996. The JWST is a technological marvel that will enable astronomers and physicists to peer far deeper into space than Hubble currently does. It is a mammoth undertaking.

The technology created for projects like this eventually find their way into consumer products, and in the mean time they help advance science and push the limits of engineering and the like.

What American doesn't look back on all of our great achievements without some tinge of pride? Why do we so deeply want to be just another country that aspires to nothing other than our own comfort and entertainment?

Interesting retro photo website called Myparentswereawesome about peoples parents before they got married.

Apple is getting sued over a typical design flaw-cover up that they're denying. Basically when held a certain way the new iPhone 4 drops calls and Apple is refusing and sort of refund at the moment.

France is trying its hand at a sort of affirmative action that would bump the number of underprivileged/minority students from 10 to 30% at its top Ecoles. Which, by the way, if you get into you're basically guaranteed a good job for life. What I find interesting is that throughout the article the French repeatedly refer to their country as the most fair free place on earth... really? I got a real sense of racism and caste there - even from the young - that doesn't exist in the US.

Scientists have made the worlds most powerful xray that they are using to probe single atoms. They're trying to essentially take time lapse videos of how atoms behave in a number of ways but currently are running into problems of you know... the laser vaporizing the atom. This has huge implications for science though.

Wired runs an interesting series of cockpit photos.

Google purchases a travel search data aggregation company started by MIT scientists that is used by Bing, Kayak, and the like... oh, for $700 million. The FTC still has to okay the deal.


Hilarious Craigslist post.

Wind powered car
goes faster than the wind...

The National Academy of Sciences asked a few engineers how to reduce gas consumption in cars with available technology. Basically it costs money and hybrids still aren't viable.

This is a really good article about (theoretical) congestion pricing in NYC and how it would work. A Harvard math grad put together a spreadsheet detailing the negative externalities imposed by car drivers on the city; which is exactly what congestion pricing aims to do - give incentives to people to make choices that impose less costs on others.