Saturday, June 11, 2011

The picture is not Photoshopped and is dead serious.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Many organizations have been making predictions for a peak in world oil production between 2010 and 2015, followed by a decline. This could bring profound changes in global markets, the balance of power and political upheaval. Check out this article in Der Spiegel, this article based on a seminar by the president of Petrobras, and this article in The Guardian.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Interesting article in The Guardian on China's new drive to guarantee access to raw materials in Brazil.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Two curious inventions: Roper's steam-powered motorcycle (1869- bottom) and Daimler's gasoline motorcycle (1885- top).

Friday, July 09, 2010

An interesting, personal review of Douglas Hoftadter's book, fittingly titled "Gödel Escher Bach: An Endless Geek Bible". This book is one of the only three "Further Reading" suggestions I gave at the end of my popular science book on quantum computing.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

There is actually a clock called QuantumGravity.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A big, scary step for science: the first synthetic life form.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

China is suffering a wave of attacks of deranged men on kindergartens - reminds me of the high-school shootings in the U.S., minus the guns.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

I've just learned about commonplacing - the act of taking down quotes, poems, pieces of news in a commonplace book, a kind of personal scrapbook. This was common in England and the U.K. in the 17th century, but somehow died off since. The first thing I thought when I read about these was: these are just like blogs! Wikipedia tells me this analogy has (of course) been pointed out before.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A new chapter of the story of the man of Flores: apparently they may have arrived there over a million years ago! They'd be something like preserved australopithecus (ci?), having lived in Flores as late as about 17000 year ago.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I'm in Zurich.
On a curious form of film cult, in this case of The Big Lebowski.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Chirac reveals that Bush pleaded with him about invading Iraq on the basis of faith:

Incredibly, President George W. Bush told French President Jacques Chirac in early 2003 that Iraq must be invaded to thwart Gog and Magog, the Bible’s satanic agents of the Apocalypse.

Honest. This isn’t a joke. The president of the United States, in a top-secret phone call to a major European ally, asked for French troops to join American soldiers in attacking Iraq as a mission from God.

Now out of office, Chirac recounts that the American leader appealed to their “common faith” (Christianity) and told him: “Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East…. The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled…. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.”

Read the rest of this article.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

In the spirit of boy scout badges, check out the Science Scout badges. Some which I may claim:

The “Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah, I’ve got a radio gig” badge.

The “quantum mechanics… I soooo get it” badge.

The “science deprives me of my bed” badge (LEVEL II).

The “non-explainer” badge (LEVEL I)- Where the recipient can no longer explain what they do to their parents.

The “I will crush you with my math prowess” badge.

The “has frozen stuff just to see what happens” badge (LEVEL III).

The “destroyer of quackery” badge. (In which the recipient never ever backs down from an argument that pits sound science over quackery.)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

An interesting essay in The Edge about necessary changes in the model of university teaching.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Fold-it @ home is a game that lets players try to find lower-energy configurations for folded proteins. This may have applications in drug design among other things. The game has already revealed a 13-year-old protein folding prodigy, and has resulted in results that beat what PhD-holding biochemists have achieved.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Monday, May 04, 2009

A report on a fire in an underground coal mine that has been raging for half a century. Such fires are common, very hard to extinguish, and produce enormous amounts of CO2.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Just last night there were raised fears of a pandemic of swine fever in Mexico city - universities, schools and kindergartens were closed for the day, and bosses were asked to be tolerant of absences today. There are an estimated 1000 cases and 45 deaths reportedly caused by the virus.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Brilliant people: a profile of Freeman Dyson in the NYT, and an essay by Terry Tao on how a ship can sail faster than the wind.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Check out this beautiful set of photos from an abandoned shipyard.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The first ipod? [via Boingboing]

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I've read a couple of books by Roberto Bolaño recently, and recommend him. Read here about his last book.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Here are some techniques that induce allucinations with simple tricks.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The probes Spirit and Opportunity go on exploring Mars, 5 (Earth) years after arrival. Their projected longevity was just 3 months.

In mid-2007 one of Spirit's wheels got stuck, so Spirit has been dragging it since. This, together with dust accumulation on the solar panels, has restricted somewhat how much it can wander.

Opportunity, on the other hand, is thriving. As summertime approaches with its solar energy bounty, it is set to do a 15 Km overland trip to an interesting crater named Endeavor. Good luck!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Today I've been reading about low-tech refrigerators - electricity-free, they can keep food up to 10oC lower than ambient, using evaporation as the cooling mechanism. First I bumped into this piece of news about a young English woman and her invention; then I read up about Zeer pots, used throughout Africa. They're an adaptation of an ancient design. In northeastern Brazil the local people use similar earthenware jars to keep water fresh.

Later on I found this old design also based on evaporation, called an absorption-gas refrigerator. The Icyball was designed in 1927, and run on anything combustible. Part of it is heated, which in turn keeps the other side close to 0C for a day or so. This design has been improved recently, to run on non-toxic liquid (the original used ammonia). Check out a short video about this invention.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Frozen soap bubbles (via boingboing)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Where do large science machines go when they die?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

On the current state of affairs in Iceland, post-bank-meltdown.
Seven leading U.S. authors reflect on Bush's legacy.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A set of beautiful microphotographs.
An example of an (almost) unreported change: incandescent light bulbs are being banned from Europe in 2010.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Rapping about CERN's LHC.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Check out this video in which logic gates are made using toppling dominoes.

Monday, June 16, 2008

This start-up company modified E. Coli so that it digests wood chips, straw and other such materials to produce oil.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

A 1968 video with "the first public use of a mouse, as well as examples of cutting, copying, pasting, teleconferencing, video conferencing, email, and... hypertext."

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

This is a great video mashup of Fred Astaire dancing to Michael Jackson.

Monday, May 05, 2008

A list of links to AI success stories.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A paper showing how computers can make automated scientific discovery of new drugs. This is much more straightforward in maths, where computers can prove theorems. My computer routinely does that - but the theorems are not very interesting.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Lablit is a site which dedicates itself to reviewing/praising realistic depictions of scientists in literature. Listen here to a podcast with the scientist responsible for it.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

An interesting interview with VS Naipaul.
John Gray's essay against the "secular fundamentalists" Amis, Dawkins, Hitchens and colleagues.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Some people are building and releasing high-altitude ballons with cameras, communication gear and sensors. Seen here the result of one such launch: pictures and films taken from near-space, at an altitude of about 30 Km, where the sky is black and one can see that the Earth's curved.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also called Trash Vortex, in an area in the Pacific where mostly plastic garbage accumulates due to sea currents. The area is around the size of Texas, with about 6 Kg of plastic for each Kg of plankton.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

My colleague Scott Aaronson is in a funny, and very unexpected, position. He got a text about quantum mechanics plagiarized and used in a commercial in which two fashion models discuss quantum mechanics (!!), just before hitting the catwalk. That's so funny!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

There's a strong suspicion that Russia is behind a three-week wave of cyber-attacks on Estonia. If true, this would be the first such attack ever from a nation-state against another.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

10 steps that could turn the U.S.A. into a fascist state, and how some of them are being taken by the Bush administration.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

A free collection of short stories. Very short indeed: 6 words each. Hemingway's:
"For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

Thursday, March 29, 2007

An article in The Guardian about how cheap, acessible, open-source rapid prototyping machines can, in perhaps 10 years, create a new industrial revolution.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

An article in New Scientist about the strange new properties of a little-known crystal. In its pure form, it may be a new state of matter, a so-called string-net fluid. There's some relation to anyons and topological computing, in case you're an expert in such things...

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Cremaster film cycle by visual artist Matthew Barney has impressed me. Check out some material on it at the Gugenheim Museum website.
The company Virgin Galactic has been set up in Britain to take tourists to the edge of space. It hopes to offer flights starting in 2009, costing about £10^5 per seat. It's also partnering with NASA to develop cheaper alternatives, which may be used to train astronauts as well. Their spaceship is based on SpaceShipOne, the first private spaceship to go into space.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Worrying news about a deadly strain of tuberculosis arising in South Africa - 98% fatality rate, airborne, death within 2 weeks.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A list of 50 English-language films which deserve to be seen, but for one reason or another have been neglected so far.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Google now has Patent Search, a simple front-end for searching among 7 million U.S. patents.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A diet with radical calorie restriction is known to prolong life in many organisms. This reporter has been investigating the story, talks to people who follow it and has been doing it himself for 9 weeks now.
An article on status anxiety, stress and chronic fatigue.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Michel Houellebecq writing about H. P. Lovecraft, a writer he greatly admires.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

A profile of Edward O. Wilson, remarkable entomologist and writer. His mission now is to convince the religious in the U.S. to support science in preserving biodiversity in the planet.
An article on the controversial potential link between diet defficiency and criminal behaviour.

Monday, October 09, 2006

A list compiled by The Observer of the best English (and Commonwealth) novels in the last 25 years. I've enjoyed reading about 10 of them.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Polyphasic sleep: 2-3 h of short naps a day, instead 8 ininterrupted hours. Seems like a hard schedule to adapt to.

Monday, September 11, 2006

On the accidental discovery of a "miracle drug" that's been effective in bringing back to life some patients in deep coma.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Biomimicry: using ideas from nature in engineering. See the velcro here? An article about biomimicry in energy production.

Monday, August 21, 2006

More about the controversy surrounding the Hobbits from Flores Island.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

This guard dog was fed up with all the attention paid to these teddy bears - what did they have that he didn't? So when his handler was a bit distracted he destroyed all of the teddy bears, worth tens of thousands of dollars.

The dog seems very pleased in the picture.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Here's an evaluation of the current situation in Afghanistan, by the most senior British military commander in the country. It's disheartening - the poppy production is at an all-time high, the country situation is "close to anarchy" and the violence has killed 700 people over the last few weeks.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Lots of films of American nuclear tests were recently declassified, and are available on-line.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

An interview with Ann Coulter, high-profile right-wing American polemicist. Extract:

"Some of Coulter's more charming opinions are that the country would be better off if women couldn't vote, that in December 2001 America should have attacked France, and that the death penalty should be brought back everywhere."

Monday, June 05, 2006

A few random results from leisurely web-browsing:

A Lego difference engine.

The strange but compelling site of visual artist Esao.

GNU radio is a multipurpose software controlled radio that can record digital TV, all FM radios simultaneously, GPS signals, etc, all under an open-source license.

A delightful site I found: the Museum of Unworkable Devices. It's pretty thorough!

Monday, May 29, 2006

The story of forced migration out of the island of Diego Garcia, so that it could be sold to the U.S., who built a military base there.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A witty article in The Guardian, from the reviewer who demolished The da Vinci Code (the book), writing about the film. Quote:
"Has our culture now created a sort of genetically modified turkey - the critic-proof product?"

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A conference of synthetic biologists is discussing guidelines for the creation of new life forms. Some disturbing advances happened in 2002 when the polio virus was reconstructed from scratch, and last year when the 1918 flu virus was reconstructed from frozen body remains.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The annual Webby awards indicate a list of web sites worth visiting.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Archaeoacoustics: the study of how one might recover sounds inadvertently recorded while a brush painted a canvas, or a stylus was working on clay. This may seem far-fetched, but some serious (or less serious) proposals have been floating around for a while. Check this site for a review of the hoaxes and real possibilities.

Other structures may be designed to create auditory effects, now or in the past. Check this article about it. Some examples are the steps in ancient American pyramids and some modern sculptures. Hear the chirped echo from an ancient temple in Teotihuacan, Mexico:

Saturday, April 22, 2006

This is an ambigram: try looking at it upside down. I had never heard of those, but there are many homepages dedicated to ambigrams...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

This guy wants to do a series of trades, starting with a paper clip and ending up with a house to live in. Now he's already got a house to live in for one year in Arizona.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Gary Younge in The Guardian on whether there's a "new McCarthyism" going on in U.S. academic institutions.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Sunday, March 26, 2006

This is a cool video - a live Bunraku matrix-style ping-pong game.[via monochrom]

Friday, March 24, 2006

A strange gallery of pictures using some old techniques, to spooky effect. [via boingboing]

Thursday, March 23, 2006

An cool article by a Norwegian professor giving reasons why a high school student should choose to take Maths.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A review of a book called "The evolutionary origins of belief", by Lewis Wolpert.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

On how to use genetic algorithms and user feedback to create or choose objects with elusive qualities, such as beatiful pictures.

Friday, March 10, 2006

This is a picture of the Z-Pinch device at Sandia National Labs. It's basically a huge capacitor, used for researching problems such as this.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Amnesty International points out in a report that 14000 people are detained without trial (à la Guantánamo) in Iraq.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Monday, February 13, 2006

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Justin Williams is opening up an exhibition in London of what he calls "mathematical photography"".

Friday, January 27, 2006

Have a look at birth rates in Europe, where 2.1 per woman is considered to be population replacement level:

Ireland 1.99
France 1.90
Norway 1.81
Sweden 1.75
UK 1.74
Netherlands 1.73
Germany 1.37
Italy 1.33
Spain 1.32
Greece 1.29

An article in the Guardian discusses the problem in Germany.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

An article on what would happen should China reach current U.S. levels of resource consumption. China has recently surpassed the U.S. in absolute resource consumption.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

An article analyzing the second big wave of immigration into the U.K.
On a controversial proposal to reclassifly chimps under the genus Homo, based on DNA studies. Curiously enough, that was the accepted classification between 1775 and 1816.

Friday, January 20, 2006

An article about podcasts, from the point of view of an outsider who's just joined in.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Let me explain one strange way of phrasing a theorem known as the Banach-Tarski paradox. It is possible to take a solid ball, cut it into five (infinitely convoluted) pieces, and reassemble the pieces into two balls, each with the same volume as the original.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Thirty years ago, the first life-swap by a conceptual artist. As a bonus, I've just learned an interesting word: discombobulate.
An article discussing e-books, electronic ink and the imminent revolution in the book business.

Friday, January 13, 2006

The first Brazilian astronaut is getting ready to visit the international space station.
I've always known that my brain doesn't work well in the morning. Now there's scientific evidence about this.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Just back from a 20-day trip away from the internet.
Check out this picture, it's troubling for the eyes, or rather, for the brain. I suppose a large part of our visual cortex is specialized in deciphering human faces, so it's not so surprising that this one is confusing... (via BoingBoing)

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Naomi Klein commenting on the history of the use of torture by the U.S. .

Friday, December 09, 2005

The publishers Penguin now have podcasts available, I should check them out. By the way, I got this through the Guardian's nice CultureVulture blog.
On the first winner of The Guardian's Book Award: "Stuart, a life backwards" by Alexander Masters, a Cambridge-based writer (by the way, he has a BA in physics and PhD in Maths).

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Have a look at a 2m-wide, 200Kg jellyfish. They are infesting Japanese waters - fortunately, they're edible.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

A list of relatively cheap Christmas presents for the technologically-driven DIY'ers, from Make Magazine.
The first-ever comic strip in Nature magazine: Adventures in Synthetic Biology.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

A student sold space on his website by the pixel - U$1 a piece. He's already sold about U$600 000 worth of it- with minimal cost.
Enquanto no Brasil algumas cidades experimentam fechar os bares mais cedo para diminuir a criminalidade, a Inglaterra vai no caminho contrário: a partir de hoje milhares de pubs e outros estabelecimentos tiveram as horas de funcionamento prolongadas.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Engineers from Leeds teach us how to make a perfect paper plane.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

This service allows you to send yourself an email - to be delivered at any date in the future! a kind of homemade time capsule. It would be interesting to send a huge attachment with all of your mail, for example, if one weren't concerned about confidentiality. So I just sent a small note to myself. What would, or will, you say to yourself in the future? or to others?

Monday, November 07, 2005

There have been claims that one can create a state of the hydrogen atom which has a closer orbit than the ground state's, yielding much energy in the process. I'm highly skeptical, but curious, nevertheless. An article in The Guardian about the controversy, the website of Black Light Power, the company making the claim.

Monday, October 31, 2005

An interview with Noam Chomsky in The Guardian.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

An article by George Dyson in The Edge about the developtment of computers, from von Neumann's early design to Google, Inc.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Down-to-earth maths: an article proving that a wobbly tables can be fixed just by rotating it (modulo some assumptions).
An insightful article about whether we should consider computer games as works of culture.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A set of articles and interviews in Forbes magazine about communications and language.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Today I read about Philo Farnsworth, teenage american inventor of the TV. It reminded me that the inventor in Futurama is also named Farnsworth, probably not a coincidence...
I like Futurama, it has very smart references and in-jokes for scientists. Check out this webpage and links inside for some of that. Dave Bacon also points out to a reference to a near-failure of Fermat's theorem in a Simpson's episode.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The 2005 Ig Nobel prizes are out!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

"The Game" is a book about a secret society of men who share tips on infallible ways of picking up women in bars.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

As the name suggests, the Internet Archive is a non-governmental organization that charts the web and preserves records of its growth for studies and for the future.
An article in The Guardian about bailes funk (the music/social phenomenon arising from shanty towns in Rio).

Saturday, September 17, 2005

An extract of an unfinished book by Janna Levin, provocatively (at least for me) called "A MADMAN DREAMS OF TURING MACHINES".

Friday, September 16, 2005

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

An article in The Guardian piecing together what happened during the Uzbek demonstrations, when hundreds or thousands of people got killed.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

An article in New Scientist describing a parasitic worm that infects land-living grasshoppers and somehow makes them jump in the water to die, so that the worms can leave their host and live in the water. Isn't science better than science fiction?

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Jonathan Freedland on the vulnerability of the U.S., as evidenced by Katrina.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

An article by Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne demolishing intelligent design.

Friday, August 26, 2005

"Teaching Turing", a fun and well-designed website which teaches about Turing machines by allowing you to program one.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

In the last few weeks I've moved from Canada back to Rio de Janeiro and prepared for a job interview, which help explain my silence. I should be back to posting here regularly from now on...
A pack of "Scientist trading cards", like the baseball cards of yore.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Russian space program is getting ready to offer a tourist trip to orbit the Moon. How much's the ticket? 100 million dollars.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Photos from an abandoned castle in Ireland.
Genetically modified crops have been shown to transfer genes to a weed, creating a pesticide-resistant super-weed.

Friday, July 22, 2005

On a program that generates random (bogus) scientific papers. There are also videos of the programmers delivering some papers in a mock seminar.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Last week I visited some pyramids in Teotihuacan, Mexico. Here's the website of a retired carpenter testing out some simple techniques that could have been used to build those. Here's a video about his project of building his own 'Stonehenge' that way.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Life in Canada: check out the tricks used to specify the ingredients of this product in English and French using the least number of words.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Keeping on the subject of tough "sports": an article about the Pakistani version of Polo. It says:

"Some regulations were introduced about five years ago to cut down on fights. Now bashing an opponent in the face or hacking his horse's legs are illegal, said the touch judge, Yaqub Masroof. "But only if it is intentional."
The best players have a strong horse, a wrench-like wrist and a backside of rubber. Still, injuries are common. Legs are broken, skulls cracked, and one player died from a heart attack mid-match."
The Pamplona bull runs of this year start today!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Two of my favourite museums, the conjoined Pitt Rivers and Natural History Museums in Oxford have won a prize as the most 'family friendly' museums in the U.K. They're really worth a visit if you happen to visit Oxford, I think of the Pitt Rivers as Indiana Jones' ware-house, and you'll understand why if you go there.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Human footprints dated 40000 years old were found in Mexico. This strengthens the hypothesis that humans arrived in the Americas much before what most researchers believed. Aqui um artigo mais antigo em português sobre o problema.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Uma entrevista com o ministro da Saúde Humberto Costa, explicando como foi a decisão de quebrar a patente internacional de um remédio anti-HIV.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Seen last winter, not far from here... this is homemade, but check out this artist's site.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

An article by historian Eric Hobsbawm analyzing the American neo-conservative drive for world supremacy.

Friday, June 24, 2005

On a lighter note: some tips on how to be a good movie villain.

Monday, June 20, 2005

A conversation about Godel and the nature of mathematical truth.
A page with pictures of abandoned buildings in the ex-Soviet Union.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Friday, June 17, 2005

Here's a 3 minute video of the Solvay conference in 1927. This is the meeting where some of the most important features of quantum mechanics were first discussed, barely 5 years after its invention. There were 29 participants, 17 of which had got or were to get Nobel prizes. I'd have loved to eavesdrop on this...

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Um artigo no The Guardian sobre a transposição das águas do rio São Francisco.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

On retreats and the different things they may mean to different people.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

An article about the roots of the revolt in Bolivia.

Friday, June 10, 2005

An article on online independent media hubs.

Monday, June 06, 2005

On a project aiming at creating a self-replicating rapid prototyper.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Extinct cave bear DNA sequenced. The researchers responsible for that are now talking about doing it to Neanderthals.
Computers can now be used to grade university essays.

Friday, June 03, 2005

I've been away for a while, in Vienna, Cambridge and Oxford. Here's an article about a painting of Klimt's that decorates the hall in Vienna University where I spent most of last week.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

An article about the history of suicide missions (early Christians' martyrdom, Kamikazes, bombers in Iraq, ...).

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Bloody April in Iraq: 135 car-bombings in last month alone, 67 of which were suicide attacks.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

An interesting debate in the online forum Edge about gender and science: Elizabeth Spelker vs Steven Pinker.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Bush's EUA gives money for Aids programmes abroad, but with strings attached: there must be policies of no abortion, no birth control, no prostitution and abstinence-based sex education. Brazil has resisted the pressure, turning down the money. Brazil has a very good AIDS programme of its own and can afford to do that, unfortunately the situation is much different in most of the developing world.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Tate Modern is about to turn 5! one of my favourite places to visit in London.
An article about recent research showing that acupuncture really works.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

An interesting article about a reporter who visits the most exotic (and sometimes dangerous) destinations in the world: Somaliland, Transnistria, Nagorno-Karabakh,...

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Some haunting testimonials about the Chernobyl accident, 19 years later. This woman goes for motorcycle rides around Chernobyl, and has written a website about it, with plenty of pictures [obrigado Tatiana!].
An interview with the man who saved a million lives. He's the British medical statistician who proved that smoking causes lung cancer.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

An article in Le Monde Diplomatique on the rise of religious politicians (especially evangelicals) in Brazil.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Friday, April 15, 2005

The Webby awards, the 'leading international award honoring excellence in Web design, creativity, usability and functionality'.
Aye-Ayes are ugly little mammals.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

On Russian aircraft with unusual design. I think the design derives from Ekranoplans, which I commented on before in this blog.
Remote controlled headless zombie flies.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Terry Jones (a Monty Pithon) on the baffling increase of child malnutrition in Iraq after the war.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

If you're Brazilian and have had contact with other Romance languages, you'll know that with a little experience it's possible to understand and be understood by Italians, French and Spanish people. This partial learning of other languages of the same family is much faster than learning a different language in the usual way, and deserves further study. This article is about some projects studying this.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

A profile of Wolfowitz, the new director of the World Bank.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Scientists have implanted human brain cells into mice fetuses, creating a chimera -- a mixture of different species. Many similar experiments are being planned, but much more thought must go into looking at the consequences of such research. Other chimeras have already been created, one had the head of a goat and the body of a sheep.

Friday, March 04, 2005

O prefeito de Londres, Ken Livingstone, chamou Ariel Sharon de criminoso de guerra. Gostei de ver!

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Mumbai is razing its slums, without first offering a viable housing alternative to its poor. More than half of its inhabitants live in slums.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Electrodes have been implanted in patients' brains, to stimulate parts of it and alleviate depression.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

A profile of Dyson, the British inventor of hoover fame.
A spacecraft powered by a solar sail is going to be launched soon.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Remember Dr. Strangelove's unwanted nazi salutes? there is a genuine neurological condition just like that, called 'anarchic hand'. [via monochrom]

Thursday, February 24, 2005

On how to destroy a planet. In style, this reminds me of 'The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy'.
An article about a.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

About how the U.K. came to be involved in the Iraq war. Quote:
[The full picture of how the government manipulated the legal justification for war, and political pressure placed on its most senior law officer, is revealed in the Guardian today.]

Sunday, February 20, 2005

A web site with easy-to-make science toys. (via BoingBoing)
Two reporters from The Guardian explain why the threat of nuclear strikes is greater now than it was during the cold war. The general public is completely oblivious to that, which is dangerous.
An interview with Kazuo Ishiguro, who talks about his most recent book ('Never let me go'), his life measured in 5-year-long stretches dedicated to each novel, and mortality.

Friday, February 18, 2005

An article on recently released documents about the torture being practiced by the U.S. army, and about two new books on the same subject. Disgusting, revolting, not unexpected at all.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

I have posted here about the R$1000 popular computer project being considered in Brazil. Here's an article about a more ambitious project, of a U$100 laptop for developing countries.
A participant in a reality show in the U.S. has killed himself. Apparently this is the second such case, a Swedish participant killed himself after being voted off the show.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Death Star? looks like it, but it's Mimas, one of Saturn's moons.
Death Star? looks like it, but it's Mimas, one of Saturn's moons.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

An interview with an autistic savant -- he does complex mathematical calculations in his head, but unlike others he can talk about it. This may help scientists understand the condition, and how 'normal' brains work.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

The Guardian asked many leading scientists what the next big scientific revolution will be. Here are the answers.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

An article on the strategic importance of the region surrounding the Black Sea.
Over two months after the Indian Ocean tsunami, about two thirds of the relief money promised to the U.N. has not yet been delivered. Judging by previous disasters, it may never be.

Monday, February 07, 2005

An article arguing that Bush has to face up to a rising power, the United States of Europe.
A book on Mumbai (old Bombay) in India. I wouldn't mind getting to know it, to compare with other chaotic and interesting cities such as Rio and Naples.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

A crime thriller which is a mathematical thriller as well. It is also set in Oxford, where I studied. I'm curious now...

Monday, January 31, 2005

Sunday, January 30, 2005

A strand of avian flu is being transmitted from human to human in Vietnam. It seems to be lethal in the majority of cases. There is the scary possibility of a pandemic.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Faz 20 anos que o MST comecou suas atividades. Veja aqui uma materia a respeito que saiu no Globo.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

This sculpture studio in the Netherlands makes 3-d models out of classic paintings and cartoons. (Via boingboing)
Simon Baron-Cohen on the differences between the sexes, following a controversial address by Harvard's president.
Here's a list of 10 good books about science, from The Guardian. This list blurs the distinction between science and literature -- it includes writes such as Primo Levi and Norman Mailer, and all books have withstood the test of time, well, they were all written more than 10 years ago. I've read two of them: 'The diversity of life' by Edward O. Wilson and 'The language instinct' by Stephen Pinker, and really recommend those.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

An extract of an unfinished work by one of my favorite writers, W. G. Sebald.
A little history of alternative keyboard designs, and a contemporary challenger to the QWERTY keyboard: abKey.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Gary Yonge on Bush's hypocritical 'quest to end tyranny'. He lists some of the repressive regimes supported by the U.S.. He also argues that Bush's perceived mission is not in the direction of bringing Cuba to the standards of freedom of the U.S., it's more like bringing all the world to the standards of freedom of a little part of Cuba - Guantanamo Bay.

A little (edited) part of Bush's inauguration address, from Yonge's article:

"America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains [apart from in Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay], or that women welcome humiliation and servitude [apart from in Saudi Arabia] or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies [apart from Uzbekistan and Israel]."

Thursday, January 20, 2005

An article in The Guardian about Ed Witten, the most famous string theorist in the world.

Monday, January 17, 2005

A computer program has been used successfully in the music industry to predict pop hits.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

The Huygens spaceprobe has landed successfully in Saturn's moon Titan, revealing a very interesting world completely new to science. An article about it, some pictures of Titan's surface.
Eric Hobsbawm on the important heritage of Marxist historians (such as himself).

Thursday, January 13, 2005

I'm back in Canada!
An investigative article in The Guardian about the controversies surrounding the discovery of the Flores Man.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

An article about pseudo-random numbers and their uses. I've been interested by randomness in physics and mathematics for years...

Saturday, December 04, 2004

I'm in Rio for the month. I'm happy.
Another installment of Salgado's 'Genesis' series of photographs. Now, Congo.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

From BoingBoing, a piece of web zen: bad English assembly instructions, weird signposts, old-school instruction films and such jewels.
An article about the new exhibit at Tate Modern, with works by troubled teenagers.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Do you think you get too much spam? Me too. But it could be worse -- Bill Gates receives 4 million emails a day.

Friday, November 12, 2004

On China's first youth culture, linglei.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Sunday, November 07, 2004

The insurgency in Iraq is as strong as it's ever been, and now the U.S. election is over, marines are getting ready to take Fallujah in what's likely to be a bloodbath.
With the reelection of Bush, the U.S. is getting ready to launch weapons in space, thus violating yet another international treaty.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

A talk about how the main problems in analytical philosophy during the last 60 years are represented in the works of Monty Pithon.
Dois surfistas brasileiros com um inglês meio ruim estavam pegando um avião nos Estados Unidos. Quando passaram no controle de segurança e as malas estavam sendo abertas, um deles disse ´Tem uma bomba de sucção nessa mala´, só que traduziu bomba de sucção como ´bomb´ ao invés de ´pump´. Resultado: foram presos e correm o risco de pegar até 5 anos de prisão, ou U$250000 de multa.

Saturn's moon Titan is receiving a visit -- the Huyghens, a robot launched from the Cassini probe. It's going to go down into Titan's atmosphere, recording data as it descends, but scientists do not know whether it'll land with a thud, a splash or a squelch.

Friday, November 05, 2004

A critical view of AMD's 'popular computer' black-box. I wonder if that's the system Brazil is adopting, it may be a mistake.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

An itemized account of what the next 4 years will be like for the U.S. and the rest of the world.
Changing subject: more comment about the Man of Flores.
Pode haver cristaos fundamentalistas perigosos em alguns paises, mas alguns deles sao inofensivos.
Another dangerous monkey.
Monkeys in a temple in India are attacking children, which apparently hasn't happened before. Are they also in a foul mood?
Today is shaping up as a dark day for the world. I don't think I feel like commenting on it. Let's cheer up.
About 20% of the Arctic ice cap has already melted, and the rest should have melted by 2070. Of course this insalubrious event could be partially reversed in the case of a nuclear (or 'nucular' , perhaps I should say) winter, which suddenly looks like a not unlikely possibility.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Around 100 000 civilians have died in Iraq, as a result of the American-led invasion.
Nature magazine has lots of info about the new-found hominid bones - the Flores man.
More on the 'hobbit' hominids. It turns out the natives of the islands where the bones were found have tales of small, hairy men and women -- there's even a possibility that some surviving specimens exist. This would overturn dramatically our self perception of the ruling species on Earth, think of the consequences for ethics and religion for example.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Fossils were found of a new Homo species that coexisted with modern humans about 18000 years ago. They were 1m tall, and are being nicknamed 'the hobbits'.

Monday, October 25, 2004

One of my first posts in this weblog was about Wikipedia, the open-source collaborative online encyclopedia. It already has more than 1 000 000 entries. More about it.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

A video of a cat in zero-g, actually on a plane following a parabolic flight path.
The winners and runners-up of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2004 competition.
A nice website about mosaics.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

This woman is hacking the hardware and software of Aibo and similar robot dogs to implement pack behavior.
'Canto de Ossanha' tocada por Baden Powell me lembra o segundo movimento da 7a sinfonia de Beethoven.
An article giving a user's view of the new endeavour of Google, Desktop search. It basically indexes and searches your files using some of the same algorithms that Google uses, as fast as Google does, and seamlessly puts the two together whenever you do a search. For people with many files and extensive email correspondence, it will enable you to find stuff you'd never thought you'd see again.
A German TV channel is planning something similar to the Truman Show.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Thursday, October 21, 2004

O governo brasileiro tem um projeto de computador popular, que deve ser comercializado ate dezembro. Custara R$1000, e podera ser financiado por R$50,00 por mes. A ideia e' vender 5 milhoes de computadores a esses precos subsidiados, que incluem 20h/mes de acesso a internet.
A weird corporate blackmail plot in France, involving 2000 credit cards straped to road signs.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

On the different forms of vote suppression or plain fraud during the U.S. presidential elections of 2000.

Monday, October 18, 2004

On the disenfranchisement of black voters in the U.S. .

Sunday, October 17, 2004

A tourist trip to see the Chernobyl nuclear accident site.
The Guardian has asked its readers in the U.K. to write to undecided voters in the U.S., to try and influence their vote. Check out some of the feedback: some of it is hate mail!link
Ex-workers from Guantanamo Bay describe the types of torture they witnessed there.
When you buy diamonds, think about where they're coming from.
Um artigo descrevendo como os físicos estão diversificando suas atividades de pesquisa, e atacando problemas em biologia, sociologia, etc.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

A look at the violence in Colombia.
On the balance of the latest invasion of Gaza by Israel: 100 Palestinians dead, among them 20 children under 16.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The whole world is sitting powerlessly watching the U.S. presidential election race, which should affect us all immensely. Unfortunately, only U.S. citizens get to vote. Well, the Guardian newspaper in the U.K. has assembled a little manual on how to influence American voters from abroad, by donating money to the campaign, writing personally to an unaffiliated voter in a swing state, or manifesting your ideas on talk-show radio programs.

Hands to arms, fellow world citizens!

Sunday, October 10, 2004

On the totalitarian dictatorship in Turkmenistan, with details of a cult of personality comparable to that of Mao Tse Tung and Kim Jong Il.
An interview with primatologist Jane Goodall.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

The future dictionary of America, a politically-charged initiative that saw many writers (re-)define the meaning of expressions such as 'axis of evil', 'condoleesy', 'environment'. Check an extract.
Bush seems to have been wired during the second presidential campaign debate. A bulge was seen on his back (suggesting an electronic device), and recently, during D-day celebrations in France, a voice was captured by CNN saying exactly what the president would say a few moments later. Article in The Guardian.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Ariel Sharon's chief aide speaks out, saying the U.S. openly supports Israel and is against a Palestinian state:

"Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. And all this with authority and permission. All with a presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress."
Gameshow arrests real criminals -- see quote below. The disquieting thing is that the TV channel involved wants to turn this into a real show.

"Hampshire police invited 150 people to the Great Big Giveaway Show in Portsmouth and offered them a chance to win big prizes.

However, the invitees were wanted for traffic and bail offences, non-payment of fines, common assault, criminal damage and drink-driving and the police used the pretext of the gameshow to entice them out of their homes.

The "guests" were frisked as they arrived and had their identities checked by a police officer dressed in a dinner suit."

Friday, October 01, 2004

Hand-drawn holograms, and related do-it-yourself optical stuff.
Stop Press! the IgNobel Prizes are out. By the way, today there'll be a couple of Nobel prize laureates here in my institute. And the prime minister.
A review of the first 25 years of the literary magazine Granta, one of my favourites.
Martin Amis writes about Diego Maradona.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Essa é boa: Lars von Trier já produziu 3 filmes pornô, e está produzindo o quarto, agora um filme gay. Ele tem até um manifesto, uma espécie de 'dogma pornô'!

Sunday, September 26, 2004

An Observer profile of Bono.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Many security analysts and retired Generals of the U.S. army agree: what's going on in Iraq is even less justified, and well-planned, than the campaign against Vietnam.

Friday, September 24, 2004

For linux geeks: how to install linux on a dead badger.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

An interview with Wong Kar-Wai, in which he describes the troubled genesis of his new film, 2046.
On the increasing use of blogging by academics.
An interview with Stephen King, who has just finished the 7-book series for which he hopes to be remembered in the future.
The short-list for the Man Booker prize. The only author I've read is David Mitchell (number9dream and Ghostwritten), and I quite recommend him.
An article about why the whole world should vote in the U.S. presidential elections. It's a bit of a joke, but there are some good points in the argument, after all we're all afected by the outcome. It also has some statistics of Bush's approval rate in Europe: Kerry would outvote Bush 6 to 1 !

Thursday, September 16, 2004

It has finally happened: the president of the main hotel and catering trade association in France has acknowledged the legendary surliness of French, and specially Parisian, waiters. Quote from the Guardian article:

["Customers are right to complain of a poor or non-existent welcome, an excessively long wait and a lack of basic courtesy and reactivity," said André Dugoin.]

Monday, September 13, 2004

An article in the Guardian about the continuing popularity of the Brazilian president Lula.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

More about the underground cinema fanatics in Paris.
On a follow-up to the article by a Russian journalist, a second one has been drugged upon arrival in Beslan. Apparently someone very powerful is very bothered by the journalism coverage of the massacre.
Sebastião Salgado, the great Brazilian photographer, is starting a new epic project: over the next eight years he'll be photographing some of the most pristine areas of the world, as a token of hope that we won't completely destroy our planet. Link to an interview, link to an on-line gallery.

Thursday, September 09, 2004