Hubble Finds Unidentified Object in Space, Scientists Puzzled

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“This is exactly why we send astronauts to risk their life to service Hubble: in a paper published last week in the Astrophysical Journal, scientists detail the discovery of a new unidentified object in the middle of nowhere. I don’t know about you, but when a research paper conclusion says ‘We suggest that the transient may be one of a new class’ I get a chill of oooh-aaahness down my spine. Especially when after a hundred days of observation, it disappeared from the sky with no explanation. Get your tinfoil hats out, because it gets even weirder.” (Gizmodo)
Hubble Finds Unidentified Object in Space, Scientists Puzzled

The Ugly New McCain

Richard Cohen: “Following his loss to George W. Bush in the 2000 South Carolina primary, John McCain did something extraordinary: He confessed to lying about how he felt about the Confederate battle flag, which he actually abhorred. ‘I broke my promise to always tell the truth,’ McCain said. Now he has broken that promise so completely that the John McCain of old is unrecognizable. He has become the sort of politician he once despised.” (Washington Post op-ed)
The Ugly New McCain

Amazon Does the Obvious, Finally:

Adds Video on IMDb: “Amazon has finally done what many have been asking it since the time the company bought IMDB: it has enabled video on the film and TV database/info site. The company says users can now watch 6,000 full-length feature films and TV episodes for free on IMDb.com’s video section.” (paidcontent.org)
Amazon Does the Obvious, Finally:

That Was Quick

South face of the White House.

Palin’s Favorability Ratings Begin to Falter: “To know her, it seems, is not necessarily to love her… Over the course of a single weekend… Palin went from being the most popular White House hopeful to the least.” (Newsweek)
That Was Quick

Dark matter ‘bridge to nowhere’ found in cosmic void

“More than a dozen galaxies seem to be lined up along a bridge of dark matter inside a region of nearly empty space. This ‘bridge to nowhere’ could shed light on how small galaxies formed in the early universe.

Galaxies in the universe are arranged in a lacy structure that contains many holes, or voids, that are largely bereft of galaxies. But the voids are not completely empty; astronomers expect they are criss-crossed by filaments of dark matter.

Now, astronomers have found a total of 14 galaxies that appear to be part of a dark matter bridge at least 1.5 million light years long.

The string of galaxies spans just 0.5% of a ‘mini-void’ – a region of space containing mostly dim, dwarf galaxies kept small by their relative isolation from other matter. But the underlying dark matter bridge may be far longer than that.” (New Scientist)

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Dark matter ‘bridge to nowhere’ found in cosmic void

Will the Internet Evolve into a Lifeform?

“Some think that sentience could emerge from any sufficiently complicated system. By the way, you’re reading this on a massively-crosslinked network built from millions of routers, allowing any of a billion individual units to access, modify and reply to the others. Interested?” (Daily Galaxy)
Will the Internet Evolve into a Lifeform?

On Stupidity

“The anti-intellectual legacy [Richard Hofstadter first] described has often been used by the political right — since at least the McCarthy era — to label any complication of the usual pieties of patriotism, religion, and capitalism as subversive, dangerous, and un-American. And, one might add, the left has its own mirror-image dogmas.

Now, in the post-9/11 era, American anti-intellectualism has grown more powerful, pervasive, and dangerous than at any time in our history, and we have a duty — particularly as educators — to foster intelligence as a moral obligation.

Or at least that is the urgent selling point of a cartload of books published in the past several months.” — William Pannapacker, an associate professor of English at Hope College, in Holland, Mich. (Chronicle of Higher Education)

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On Stupidity

What Makes People Vote Republican?

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Jonathan Haidt: “What makes people vote Republican? Why in particular do working class and rural Americans usually vote for pro-business Republicans when their economic interests would seem better served by Democratic policies? We psychologists have been examining the origins of ideology ever since Hitler sent us Germany’s best psychologists, and we long ago reported that strict parenting and a variety of personal insecurities work together to turn people against liberalism, diversity, and progress. But now that we can map the brains, genes, and unconscious attitudes of conservatives, we have refined our diagnosis: conservatism is a partially heritable personality trait that predisposes some people to be cognitively inflexible, fond of hierarchy, and inordinately afraid of uncertainty, change, and death. People vote Republican because Republicans offer “moral clarity”—a simple vision of good and evil that activates deep seated fears in much of the electorate. Democrats, in contrast, appeal to reason with their long-winded explorations of policy options for a complex world.”

[Jonathan Haidt is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, where he does research on morality and emotion and how they vary across cultures. He is the author of The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom.] (The Edge)

What Makes People Vote Republican?

Are Too Many People Going to College?

“America’s university system is creating a class-riven nation. There has to be a better way

College is seen as the open sesame to a good job and a desirable way for adolescents to transition to adulthood. Neither reason is as persuasive as it first appears.” (The American)

Are Too Many People Going to College?

Strip of Iraq ‘on the Verge of Exploding’

“Kurdish leaders have expanded their authority over a roughly 300-mile-long swath of territory beyond the borders of their autonomous region in northern Iraq, stationing thousands of soldiers in ethnically mixed areas in what Iraqi Arabs see as an encroachment on their homelands.” (Washington Post)
Strip of Iraq ‘on the Verge of Exploding’

Science as an Ethical Community

Cosmologist Lee Smolin: “…[S]cience works because scientists form communities defined by a set of ethical principles which, even if imperfectly applied, tend to lead to progress in our understanding of nature. While these communities have long been international, the combination of the internet with cheap airfare and easy migration of educated people makes scientists into ‘global souls’, in Pico Iyer‘s phrase. This opens up new opportunities and also new challenges for the thriving of scientific communities.”
(Perimeter Institute)

Science as an Ethical Community

In Search of The ‘Real 3D Mandelbrot Set’

The Holy Grail of fractals (Skytopia)

In Search of The ‘Real 3D Mandelbrot Set’

This is Your Nation on White Privilege

Tim Wise’s damning indictment of the Palinocracy: “For those who still can’t grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are constantly looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.” (Red Room)

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This is Your Nation on White Privilege