The appeal of scepticism

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The philosopher Bertrand Russell states in an article written (but not published) for a magazine in 1952:

If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense.

Continue reading “The appeal of scepticism”

XKCD – Tech Support Cheat Sheet

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I usually don’t post plain links to stuff I found on the internet. But this is an exception. This web comic on the right is just so true. The author of this (and 626 other) comic strip(s) is Randall Munroe. On his homepage xkcd he publishes new comics three times a week.

Other episodes I find worth to be mentioned are: Geohashing because of its originality and the idea of creating this “random adventure generator”. Height, a logarithmic overview from the border of the observable universe down to us. Random number: simplistic and funny. Other motives are quite romantic with a mathematical flavour, like in Useless. A final hint: read the tooltips which appear when you place the mouse over the comic image. The tooltip for the comic I included here says:

‘Hey Megan, it’s your father. How do I print out a flowchart?’

From finite to renewable energy

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Fossil resources, i.e. coal, oil and gas, are finite. This fact is not surprising, but is worth to be mentioned. Its direct consequence is that in near future we will have to be able to generate (more precisely: convert) all energy we consume from renewable sources. This need is independent from any consequences that arise from the combustion of fossil fuels (i.e. greenhouse effect). The climate change just adds another “incentive” to realise that necessary shift more quickly. This article tries to give a non-exhaustive overview over the current dependency on fossil fuels and scenarios of possible replacements. Continue reading “From finite to renewable energy”

Home (film by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, 2009)

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Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth” (2006) was the first big documentary film that received international attention. It covered the current scientific knowledge global warming caused by the artificial greenhouse effect.

Now the film “Home” by the French director Yann Arthus-Bertrand is published. It tries not only to focus on the climate issue but to show the whole picture: exhaustion of natural resources, energy consumption, biologic diversity, pollution and the rising gap between industrialised nations and the rest of the world. Continue reading “Home (film by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, 2009)”

Self-replication

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Self-replication is the ability of a machine to reproduce all parts it consists of. In a more strict sense it stands for the capability to create a fully functional copy of itself, explicitly including the final assembly.

The interest of this concept on the one hand lies in the possibility of conducting long-term space missions, on the other hand there are strong economic implications: A machine capable of reproducing itself is consequently also able to manufacture a broad range of products. Continue reading “Self-replication”

Technological Singularity

Accelerating Change I

In my English course I had to prepare a presentation on a topic regarding new technologies. Having recently read the novel “Accelerando” by Charles Stross (available online for free) I had a suitable subject ready: a technological singularity. You maybe have heard of other types of singularities in mathematics or cosmology, but this one is quite different. Continue reading “Technological Singularity”