My series on interesting stuff I’ve found online (previous installment here) will evolve over time, and as another step in that evolution I’ve decided to experiment with making it monthly (with publication in the final week of each month). This will mean more time between installments but more meat each time.
Though the series focusses on stuff I’ve found online, I do often include a few notes on offline stuff as well (books, television, etc). Let’s start there.
It has been a terrible month for programs I want to watch all being on at the same time. I don’t like to use the video recorder at the best of times, but it hasn’t even been an option this month because I haven’t been able to get it to work since my floors were renovated (at which point, of course, everything was unplugged). There is currently a series on SBS called First Australians, about white settlement in Australia from the Aboriginal perspective. This is being broadcast twice a week, and until recently one of those timeslots was clashing with The Mentalist. Since then, however, The Mentalist has changed timeslots and is now clashing with House.
A particularly interesting story on Catalyst this month was The Science of Happiness, broadcast on the 2nd of October. It goes into some detail about compassion meditation as practiced by Buddhist monks, which I found interesting because I have a personal angle on the subject matter. I’ve mentioned previously that my religious position has varied from atheistic to strongly Christian at various stages of my life – and as a Christian I used to practice my own form of compassion meditation. (I called it prayer, but underneath surface differences it is pretty much the same thing.) I could dedicate a whole post to this topic and maybe I will.
In my previous post, I mentioned how Richard Saunders gave me a copy of an Astronomy Cast CD at the Skeptics Convention. I’ve been listening to it, and it’s very interesting. (I didn’t know that Americans pronounce the word “cosmos” that way. Weird!)
One episode inspired me to look up modified Newtonian dynamics (MOND) in Wikipedia, though I’ve known of this ever since I read about it in chapter ten of the original Science of Discworld book. Each of the three sources places a different angle on the subject, and it’s only by putting them together that I form a comprehensive picture. (I have some opinions, too.)
On a similar topic, a recent science news article describes an application of the anthropic principle in relation to dark energy. Speaking of which, I’m still curious about an article I read about a year ago which cast doubt on the existence of dark energy altogether. That article raises certain pseudoscience alarm bells in my mind, because it seems unlikely that scientists would miss the fact if old theories really could account for new observations so neatly. But that’s no reason not to be curious, both for an explanation of the article (I have a rudimentary knowledge of general relativity but this is beyond me) and for a refutation of its claims.
Sometimes I discover interesting things on the Internet by exploring sites that I’ve not explored as thoroughly before, or by clicking links that I’ve not bothered to clicked before. The following items belong in this category.
I’ve started browsing the archives of the blog Babel’s Dawn from the beginning. So far I’m about six months in. It’s hard to point to specific posts as being particularly worth reading, because the style of the blog is something of a stream of consciousness, but it is interesting overall. It’s about one person’s quest to develop a theory of how human speech might have evolved, and how the evolution of speech is connected to the evolution of other aspects of human behaviour.
Following a link, I came across this site about tarot cards. I have known the basic facts about tarot card history for some time (the most important fact is that they were invented for playing games with, not for fortune telling), but this site offers a lot more detail on certain aspects of the subject.
Here is this month’s list of miscellaneous interesting stuff I’ve learned online.
- Another advance in solar cell technology (but I’m not clear on exactly what the advancements are on this).
- The world’s oldest footprints.
- The latest in the quest to invent artificial telepathy.
- Some interesting stuff about amputated limbs.
- I’ve known how to pronounce ‘ll’ in Welsh since forever, but until recently I didn’t know how to pronounce it in Icelandic. Turns out it’s a laterally released unvoiced alveolar affricate (according to John Wells).
- My favourite piece of news in science for this month: apparently bonobos have been caught hunting chimpanzees. They ain’t so peaceful!
- Is this an annotation for The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett? (You’ll know what I mean if you’ve read it.)
- An article on the sins of copyright is far from comprehensive, but seems to be quite a good discussion of a few angles.
- Sometimes a news in science article makes one wonder if April has come twice this year. The item on x-rays and sticky tape is one of those.
- What is your favourite picture from www.zooborns.com (a new website by the author of Zooillogix). Perhaps this one? Or how about this one?
- I’ve previously linked to my profile on YouJustGetMe. But if you want to judge me, then you might consider doing so over a coffee.