Interesting stuff: February 2009 (I)

I’ve been finding a lot of interesting stuff on the Internet this month. Too much to cover in a single installment, so I will post another installment for the second half of February. The quantity of stuff I’ve found is partly due to my decision to add to my regular sources of news.


  • An article on the SIM space telescope, which will look for earthlike planets in other solar systems, among other things. (I was annoyed to see one basic error in the article: the claim that the galaxy rotates like a solid body. No it doesn’t.)
  • But coming in the more immediate future is the Kepler space telescope, also looking for such planets.
  • Confirming dark energy models over alternative theories is this article. See also this earlier one.

Archaeology and Anthropology:


Geology and Minerology:


  • A list of words introduced into English by Charles Darwin. Commentary here, and I guess you can search for the words here.

Meteorology and Oceanography:





There is one other item on my list, but I’m leaving it off for now as it requires a whole post to itself. [Update: here it is.]

One Response to “Interesting stuff: February 2009 (I)”

  1. John Cowan Says:

    Unfortunately there is a big fat flaw in that Pacific settlement research. The folks at Language Log did the heavy lifting here, but what it boils down to is this: the mathematical cladistic methods they are using are designed for use with independent binary characters, like Mendel’s pea varieties: tall vs. short, yellow vs. green, smooth vs. wrinkled.

    But when you look at a particular word in a group of related families, you often get three, four, or five different “alleles” (cognate groups). They simply assign as many binary characters as there are groups and then go with the algorithm. But that can’t be right: if a language is in cognacy group 5 for a particular word, then it is inherently not in groups 1-4, which means that 1-4 are not independent.

    And there goes the whole method. If the results are correct, it’s by accident.

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