Gleanings from the Past #75

Coining New Words Carl Sagan Physicists had to invent words and phrases for concepts far removed from everyday experience. It was their fashion to avoid pure neologisms and instead to evoke, even if feebly, some analogous commonplace. The alternative was to name discoveries and equations after one another. This they did also. But if you […]

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Gleanings from the Past #74

A Broken Leg and Some Books (1874) H. G. Wells My leg was broken for me when I was between seven and eight. Probably I am alive to-day and writing this autobiography instead of being a worn-out, dismissed and already dead shop assistant, because my leg was broken. The agent of good fortune was “young […]

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Next Generation: Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

This is a guest post by Ethan Gilmore About Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning As the name suggests, artificial intelligence is something artificial and exists contrary to the natural intelligence possessed by living beings.  Humans are greatly fascinated by the discovery of this branch of science that can make computers and robotics to think, learn, […]

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Robert Heinlein’s Predictions for the 21st Century

Science-fiction author Robert Heinlein wrote several predictions for the year 2000 and beyond in his article “Where To?” which was first published in the February 1952 edition of Galaxy Science Fiction: AXIOM: A “common sense” prediction is sure to err on the side of timidity […] AXIOM: The more extravagant a prediction sounds the more likely […]

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Gleanings from the Past #68

Spectrum Newton was probably responsible for the concept that there are seven primary colours in the spectrum—he had a strong interest in musical harmonies and, since there are seven distinct notes in the musical scale, he divided up the spectrum into spectral bands with widths corresponding to the ratios of the small whole numbers found […]

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Gleanings From The Past #67

Science Science, like life, feeds on its own decay. New facts burst old rules; then newly divined conceptions bind old and new together into a reconciling law. — William James, The Will to Believe and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy, 1897

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Practical Chemistry

Image: Trip Advisor Former MIT Physics ptofessor Anthony P. French received a short letter in 1982 from a writer in New Rochelle, New York. It went as follows: Being a safety minded individual I thought I would write you before experimenting on my own. Is it safe to mix Antipasto and Pasta together and could […]

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A Victim Of His Own Invention

Sir Robert Watson-Watt was a Scottish physicist and a proponent of radio direction finding and radar technology. His ideas were credited for the defeat of more than a quarter of German U-boats and subsequently enabled the Royal Air Force to win the Battle of Britain in 1941. Several years later, he was pulled over by […]

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Gleanings From The Past #54

Not Lost in Translation A ludicrous story is told of a great naval function which took place during the reign of the last Napoleon and the Empress Eugénie. Several American vessels were present, and they were drawn up in line to salute the Empress’s yacht as it passed. The French sailors, of course, manned the […]

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Quotable #50: Gradualness

“Firstly, gradualness. About this most important condition of fruitful scientific work I never can speak without emotion. Gradualness, gradualness, and gradualness. From the very beginning of your work, school yourselves to severe gradualness in the accumulation of knowledge.” — Ivan Pavlov, his advice to the academic youth, Science, Vol. 83, April 17, 1936

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