Tuesday, July 5, 2016

This Week In Smart

Internet atheist Sargon of Akkad presents a regular feature, titled "This Week In Stupid." Entertaining as though it can be to watch, it always leaves me a little uneasy, and not because of any particular topic.

It's the mindset, common to many i-atheists and "I effing love science" types, described in the post The Sky Is Blue Therefore No Vodka on Transatlantic Flights: atheism (or "love" of science) as mockery of others. Sometimes with some reason, sometimes based on pointing and sputtering.

(Quick, "lovers" of science: do you dilute concentrated sulfuric acid by adding the acid to the water or the water to the acid? Hint: one yields diluted sulfuric acid, the other yields chemical burns.)

As a counter to that mindset, here are a few things that showcase smarts, not stupidity. Just some things I watched or read that I liked and think they are good examples of what knowledge, work, intelligence, and drive can achieve. Plus, big machines.

The Juno probe has now been inserted in orbit around Jupiter.

Mythbuster Adam Savage applies Science! to an important problem: how to best sear meat.

Crazy Australian Dave Jones (EEVblog) discusses the effects of radiation on electronics in space.

China completed the largest radiotelescope in the world (via WSJ).

A new crew will be going to the International Space Station tomorrow, on a Soyuz capsule. Coverage will probably be available at Spaceflightnow.

A statistical analysis of the data processing used on fMRI data raises questions about a lot of results in neuroscience-adjacent fields (neuroeconomics, neuropsychology, neurofinance, neuromarketing -- no not joking, etc).

Dr. Don Lincoln of Fermilab (your tax dollars at work) explains quantum "color."


1. Quite a few smart people I know are still stumped by this puzzle (yes, there's a solution):
You're NOT at the North Pole. You walk 1 km South, 1 km West, 1 km North and find yourself where you started. Where are you?
2. Some of the little ones in my family have quickly solved this 6-queen puzzle (in Portuguese for my niece, whose name, as some might infer, is Mariana):

Puzzle das seis Marianas

(Place six Marianas in the six-by-six board in such a way that each line, column, and diagonal has only one Mariana.) Pass it along to little ones you know, maybe it'll help make them careful thinkers

Gratuitous big machine video of this week:

Yes, I understand that it's much more popular to mock people and discuss events than to bring up ideas and focus on the positive advances being made; but since I don't rely on the internet for money (ironic, given what I really do for a living) I don't need to pander to that audience.

Pasta la vista.