I’ve got lots going on these days, so please pardon the lack of personal input in today’s post.  Going link-heavy, starting with…


Hints of new physics at the LHC.

Preliminary findings from CERN’s Large Hadron Collider may have uncovered experimental evidence for physics beyond the Standard Model. Data from the CMS experiment is showing significant excesses of particles known as leptons being created in triplets, a result that could be interpreted as evidence for a theory called supersymmetry.

–Beware:  Links in the quote box may not open a new tab.


Mass species loss stunts evolution for millions of years.

During that time, the carbon cycle — the flow of life’s essential element through all Earth’s systems — oscillated wildly, a period known as a “chaotic carbon interval.” And rather than rebounding and steadily filling suddenly open niches, as might be expected, life appears to have entered a boom-and-bust cycle. Species flourished and collapsed, over and over, a planet-level version of the jellyfish bloom-and-bust cycles now seen in overfished oceans.

One seemingly plausible explanation is ongoing Permian-Triassic volcanic activity, which could have decimated new species as they arose. However, carbon chaos continued for millions of years after volcanoes cooled. A newer explanation, favored by Whiteside, draws from the work of ecological theorists who say that, at planetary scales as well as local, complexity generates resilience.

Applied to mass extinctions, this idea is somewhat radical — but in a coral reef or rainforest, or even a computer network, it’s an accepted notion. Just as distributed systems are more secure than a handful of mainframes, ecosystems composed of many interlocking and sometimes redundant species are especially sturdy. Because they’re stable, they in turn nourish life’s diversification over evolutionary time. It’s a biological catch-22: A richness of life requires stability to develop, but stability requires a richness of life.

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Teen violence linked to pop.

High-school students in inner-city Boston who consumed more than five cans of non-diet, fizzy soft drinks every week were between 9% and 15% likelier to engage in an aggressive act compared with counterparts who drank less.

“What we found was that there was a strong relationship between how many soft drinks that these inner-city kids consumed and how violent they were, not only in violence against peers but also violence in dating relationships, against siblings,” said David Hemenway, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health.

“It was shocking to us when we saw how clear the relationship was,” he said in an interview.

But he stressed that only further work would confirm – or disprove – the key question whether higher consumption of sweet sodas caused violent behaviour.

–Beware:  Correlation does not = causation.


Spielberg defends worst scene in terrible movie (Indiana Jones 4).

“I have no idea what I was thinking.  The movie was crap and the refrigerator scene was terrible, bordering on insulting.”

–Beware:  Spielberg didn’t actually say that, but he should have.


Apple patent uses 3-D gestures to control iPad.

Forget relying solely on touch to control your Apple device. On future iPads, you may be able to control your tablet from across the room using 3-D gestures, such as a swirl or swipe of the hand.

As suggested by a newly uncovered Apple patent, you would be able to manipulate and control graphical elements on your display, such as icons, media files, text and images. The gestures themselves could take many forms: geometric shapes (e.g., a half-circle or square), symbols (like a check mark or question mark), the letters of the alphabet, and other sorts of predetermined patterns.

One interesting application the patent highlights is video annotation and editing via a gesture-based toolbar. The toolbar would provide pre-set options for beginners, but would also allow more advanced users to customize their own gestures.

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–Behold!  The World’s First Spherical Flying Machine!!



My city is more ridiculous than your city.


How they come up with the story in the ‘Uncharted’ Series.

Their goal at the start of each game’s production is to “try to come up with these set-piece moments that aren’t just for show,” Hennig said. “In many ways, they become the signature pieces of the game.”

Those segments also take the longest to plan and build, which is why they need to be conceived as early in the process as possible.

After determining a game’s centerpieces, Naughty Dog’s brass then choose where the story will take place. They ask themselves, “Where can we go that’s physically different?” Hennig said. Previous games have sent the protagonist, Nathan Drake, to uncharted territories that include jungles and snowy tundras. For “Uncharted 3,” the Drake character will explore sand dunes.

–Beware:  This story is a pretty neat glimpse into Naughty Dog’s creative process.


–A follow up to a post a few weeks back…you were warned!!  Peanut butter prices are skyrocketing.


Five common logical fallacies that make you more wrong than you think.

Why basic logic isn’t taught from primary school is a mystery I’ll never understand.  Why not train our kids to think critically from a very young age?  Why hasn’t this happened yet?