Programming Note and Links Dump

I’ll be taking advantage of the one daily flight to Toronto that allows Albany to claim an International Airport today, en route to Waterloo, where they are celebrating the opening of their shiny new Quantum and Nano Center with an Open House on Saturday, September 29. I’ll be giving my “What Every Dog Should Know About Quantum Physics” (now with 100% more ephemeral pop-culture references!) at 12:30, and appearing as part of a panel discussion at 4pm with people who are more famous than I am. If you’re in the general area, stop by for one or both of those.

This will, obviously, keep me from substantive blogging, but that’s OK, as I’m not likely to generate anything better than yesterday’s post on relativity for pre-schoolers. If you somehow missed that, go read it. It’s got cute kid pictures, too. If you insist on something new, here are some links:

  • David Kaiser’s top 10 books about quantum theory | Books |

    It’s extremely flattering to see _How to Teach Physics to Your Dog_ among such distinguished company.

  • Scientific Thinking in Young Children: Theoretical Advances, Empirical Research, and Policy Implications

    New theoretical ideas and empirical research show that very young children’s learning and thinking are strikingly similar to much learning and thinking in science. Preschoolers test hypotheses against data and make causal inferences; they learn from statistics and informal experimentation, and from watching and listening to others. The mathematical framework of probabilistic models and Bayesian inference can describe this learning in precise ways. These discoveries have implications for early childhood education and policy. In particular, they suggest both that early childhood experience is extremely important and that the trend toward more structured and academic early childhood programs is misguided.

  • The Frenzy | Easily Distracted

    Entrepreneurial action can represent the best social and imaginative potential of modern liberal societies. It’s also a great way to focus and challenge any new initiative or project. Do you want to mobilize groups, sustain collective action? Then it’s totally fair to ask, “With what resources? With what costs or liabilities? With what kind of plan for organizational and financial sustainability?” Do you have a great creative vision, or some change in material practices you’d like to encourage? Thinking “entrepreneurially” is a great filter or structure for approaching those aspirations. What I do not like about “entrepreneurship” is when it starts to collapse into itself, when it’s an alibi for a gold-rush approach to life and aspiration, when it’s part of a frenzy.

  • Chuck Klosterman asks: Is fantasy football destroying our perceptions of NFL athletes? – Grantland

    There is a massive, ever-expanding class of Americans who cannot remember a connection to pro football that did not involve the drafting and owning of skill players who work on their personal behalf. And the result, I fear, has been the mild dehumanization of humans we were already prone to perceive as machines. Now, I realize dehumanization is a melodramatic word to use when discussing millionaires. I would guess that most people reading this column would love to be “dehumanized” in any context that pays them $9 million a year. But this isn’t about feeling sympathy for pro athletes. That’s not my point. What I’m proposing has more to do with how a few grains of personal investment prompt normal people to think about strangers in inaccurate, twisted, robotic ways. It’s about how something fun quietly makes us selfish, and it’s about the downside of turning real people into algebraic chess pieces. The person who is making me think about this is Chris Johnson.