From the flood of online general interest information I have time for only a micro-portion (maybe a pico-portion). Here is what has given me thought. Each of these gave me lots to think about, but life-time is limited.
The surprisingly complex truth about planes and climate change. I found this fascinating because it shows how important climate models are. The essence is that gases and particulates that we emit because of our activities affect climate, via warming/cooling, on different timescales. Discussion of global warming cannot be anecdotal, the complex models are the only route to understanding and predicting what happens. As we see, more and more is being included in the models. Nothing will be missed out deliberately. The research article can be obtained from Specific Climate Impact of Passenger and Freight Transport.
Quincy Jones: ‘I knew how to handle Michael’. The only reason I am noting this is the Sinatra quote – ” Jones was once at death’s door himself. In 1974, he suffered two brain aneurysms that have left him unable to play the trumpet. He was given a 1% chance of surviving the operation: when the doctors shaved his head they kept his hair in a plastic bag, in case they needed to paste it back on to his corpse. He woke up to find an extravagant memorial service had been planned. So he reckoned it might as well go ahead. “Frank Sinatra said to me, ‘Q, live each day like it’s your last. And one day you’ll be right.'” “. Two of my friends who had cerebral hemorrhage died; Quincy was lucky.
Why does Stephen Hawking think science has overtaken philosophy?. I have not read this latest general-reader book by Hawking, but this article brings out what I felt when I read A Brief History of Time. I find Hawking dogmatically certain in a way that seems unscientific. He has done amazing work and made a great contribution to physics, but when he generalizes he presents things as absolutely ‘right’.
Dominic Lawson: Not every airport tale is bad. “To the list of accolades that attach to Amsterdam, I can now add a new one: if you are going to lose your passport, this is the place to do it.” This brought to mind a distant memory of being in Amsterdam and remembering what a charming friendly place it felt.
The crimewave that shames the world. “It’s one of the last great taboos: the murder of at least 20,000 women a year in the name of ‘honour’. Nor is the problem confined to the Middle East: the contagion is spreading rapidly.” Somewhat over 20 years ago I had an Iraqi colleague with whom I discussed Middle East issues. He recommended that I read Pity the Nation by Robert Fisk. I finally bought it and read it while in New Jersey in 1993. I have been a fan of Fisk’s writing since then and found him an invaluable guide to Middle East issues, proven by his predictions usually coming true. If anyone thinks he is unthinking pro-Palestinian, this article will disabuse them of that.
Tiny solar cells fix themselves. “Researchers have demonstrated tiny solar cells just billionths of a metre across that can repair themselves, extending their useful lifetime.” This really cheers. I am not seeing this as the solution to all our environmental problems, but the diversity of work being done gives a lot of hope to us.
A climate warning from the deep. “The dispersal of tiny sea creatures in Antarctica has alerted scientists to the vulnerability of Earth’s ice sheets.” & “British Antarctic Survey researchers have found the dispersal of these minute animals suggests a sea passage once divided Antarctica 125,000 years ago.”
I am not sure how to interpret this. It needed the context of global temperature estimates 125,000 years ago: Penultimate Interglacial Period ca. 125,000 Years Ago – from the NAO, which suggests that global temperatures were 1 to 2 C warmer than now.
Google and Galaxy Zoo could aid global climate project.
“Climate scientists meeting in Britain this week hope to build a database to predict natural disasters precisely. And records of the voyages of the Bounty and Beagle will assist them in their task”. An example of the kind of global cooperation that our new networking technologies make possible.
Humans cannot multitask (even women). What struck me is that from this we are two processor ‘machines’. Indeed any other multitasking beyond two items is really time-sharing. Presumably we often need both brain halves to work on some problems and then there can be a single task only, otherwise we slow down and may even be unable to get to the end of resolving the problem.