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Tag: space

3-2-1 For 10-2-16

Three readings worth your time this week.

Growing up I was a big fan of Issac Asimov. Although he is primarily known for science fiction, Asimov also wrote books, short stories, and essays on almost any topic you can name. Like this piece from Technology Review, unpublished until 2014, in which he explores the sources of creativity. Although written in 1959, it’s still very relevant and a good example of Asimov’s thought processes. (about 7 minutes)

This week I saw a lot of chatter around the “fact” that NASA had updated the signs of the zodiac and inserted a new astrological sign. It all sounded like just another of the many absurdities that swim around the web and Phil Plait, who writes as the Bad Astronomer, explains just how stupid the whole deal is. Starting with the real fact that NASA had nothing to do with this, not to mention that astrology isn’t “worth wrapping a fish in”. (about 4 minutes)

Speaking of space, Elon Musk, the billionaire CEO of Tesla Motors, this week outlined his vision for not only traveling to Mars but establishing large working colonies on that planet. His current plans call for launching the first mission to Mars in 2024, less than eight years from now. It’s all very ambitious, and very much lacking in details. But Musk’s plans are certainly worth watching. (about 18 minutes)

Two audio tracks for your commute.

Did you ever wonder how Facebook determines which news stories and ads will be placed in your timeline? On a segment of the Note To Self podcast the host and a reporter for Pro Publica discuss those invisible algorithms and the impact they might have your perception of the world. They also introduce a Pro Publica project that asks users to contribute their data in an attempt to learn more about the Facebook “black box”. (18:00)

At last Monday’s presidential debate, both candidates tossed around a variety of economic terms, most of which you may have heard before. But what do they mean? The Planet Money team does an entertaining job of explaining the Terms of the Debate. (20:25)

One video to watch when you have a few minutes.

Have you ever seen an assembly line for airplanes? Boing builds 42 of their workhorse 737 model every month at their massive facility in Renton, Washington. This short video is an interesting look at how the assembly of each aircraft is completed in just nine days. (2:28)

3-2-1 For 9-11-16

Three readings worth your time this week.

NASA launched a mission this week that sounds really cool. The spacecraft will make a seven year round trip to an asteroid and “return a substantial amount” of it’s material to Earth. Of course, that’s no trival process but the story of the collection device that will be used is fascinating and a build that would be right at home at any Maker Faire. (about 4 minutes)

In a short piece on their UK site, Wired reviews some ongoing research that asks if virtual reality can make people more emphathetic. The answer, of course, is that it’s far too early to arrive at any conclusions. But this part is certainly good to remember: “Anything that has to power to influence our behavior for the better also has the power to influence it for the worse.” (about 4 minutes)

On his blog, Nicholas Carr, one of the more intelligent critics of the internet and it’s impact on society, posted the introduction from his new book in which he reviews some of the early promise of the web as an “engine of liberation”. Instead, he concludes that it’s more The World Wide Cage. Even if his ideas lean more to the negative side than I like, Carr’s writing always is worth reading. (about 11 minutes)

Two audio tracks for your commute.

A recent segment of the Freaknomics podcast (hosted by the co-author of the book with the same title) is about why The Future (Probably) Isn’t as Scary as You Think. The program is a discussion with the author of a book called The Inevitable and he really is optimistic about what he sees not too far ahead. (34:58)

In case you missed it this week (which would only happen by staying completely off the web), Thursday was the 50th anniversary of the debut of Star Trek. Among the flood of memorial material posted, one of the better retrospectives was a segment from On The Media that was actually first recorded ten years ago. In it, one of the show’s hosts explores the concept of Trek through the “infinitely powerful engine behind it all: the fan”. (15:00)

One video to watch when you have a few minutes.

When it comes to conspiracy theories, the idea that the government has been hiding evidence of space aliens for 60 years is at the top of the dumb list. In a short video essay, Bill Nye offers some facts and rationality to explain why the government is not hiding extraterrestrials from us. He is, however, optimistic enough to believe we will eventually find alien life, although probably not like in the movies. (6:18)

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