Archives for June, 2007

My intention of reading all of the nominees for the Hugo Awards in the fiction categories hit a bit of a snag yesterday. I finished all the short fiction (novella, novelette, short story), and most of the novels, leaving only Peter Watts’s Blindisght and Charlie Stross’s Glasshouse. James Nicoll described Peter Watts as the sort…

Outstanding Offers

I’m still looking for charity suggestions to help prove that atheists aren’t just cynical misers. Again, I’m offering to donate $200 to worthy non-religious charities suggested in comments. I’ve gotten some good suggestions already, but more are always welcome. On a less serious note, nobody has yet taken me up on my offer to endorse…

Needling the Choir

Lest I go two days without linking to Inside Higher Ed, there’s a “Devil’s Workshop” column from Wick Sloan today, in the form of a fake letter to Congress calling for higher taxes on higher education: Perhaps it’s time for the nation to admit we are at war and to act accordingly. The immense Iraq…

Good News From Outer Space

Steinn checks in from his Mediterranean vacation with not one, not two, but three reports from the conference on Extreme Solar Systems, and a hint of maybe more to come. The big news here, as far as I can see, is that they’re starting to find more low mass planets, and more planets with long…

Tiny Robot Soccer

Via EurekAlert, next weekend will see a soccer demonstration by nanoscale robots at the RoboCup competition in Atlanta. This is “nano” in the usual sense of “hundreds if not thousands of nanowhatevers,” of course, and they’re not exactly playing soccer: The soccer nanobots (nanoscale robots) operate under an optical microscope, are controlled by remote electronics…

Dorky Poll: Grand Challenges

I’m going to drop back a bit, and steal an idea from Doug Natelson, who posted about Grand Challenges in condensed matter physics almost two weeks ago. This was prompted by a report from the National Research Council listing such challenges, including things like “How do complex phenomena emerge from simple ingredients?” and “How will…

George Gamow was a Russian-born physicist who is known for, in roughly equal proportions, his work on nuclear physics, his popular-audience books, and his really weird sense of humor. He famously added Hans Bethe’s name to a paper he wrote with his student, Ralph Alpher, just so the author list would be “Alpher, Bethe, Gamow,”…

Presenting the hottest new product in the telecommunications sector: the rPhone: rPhone combines three delightfully diverse products into one awkward and cumbersome handheld contraption — a revolutionary steam-powered satellite phone, a stylish French musicbox, and a vibrasonic multi-purpose tool that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike a Sonic Screwdriver. rPhone is the first portable…

Not long before the Matthew Nisbet post about uncharitable atheists crossed my RSS feeds, I had marked a Fred Clark post about mission trips that has some really good thoughts about the mechanics of charity: But the point of these mission trips is not only to get [a rural school in Haiti] built. That’s part…

Atheist Charity Drive

Over at Framing Science, Matthew Nisbet notes a survey about poverty which finds, among other things, that atheists are less likely to take part in anti-poverty efforts. There are a number of good reasons to be skeptical of this survey, which I’ll mention at the end of this post, but Nisbet seems to take it…