Links for 2010-05-23

  • "[T]he U.C.L.A. project was an attempt to capture a relatively new sociological species: the dual-earner, multiple-child, middle-class American household. The investigators have just finished working through the 1,540 hours of videotape, coding and categorizing every hug, every tantrum, every soul-draining search for a missing soccer cleat.

    "This is the richest, most detailed, most complete database of middle-class family living in the world," said Thomas S. Weisner, a professor of anthropology at U.C.L.A. who was not involved in the research. "What it does is hold up a mirror to people. They laugh. They cringe. It shows us life as it is actually lived."

    After more than $9 million and untold thousands of hours of video watching, they have found that, well, life in these trenches is exactly what it looks like: a fire shower of stress, multitasking and mutual nitpicking. And the researchers found plenty to nitpick themselves. "

  • "When people ask me why we don't yet have quantum computers, my first response is to imagine someone asking Charles Babbage in the 1820s: "so, when are we going to get these scalable classical computers? by 1830? or maybe 1840?" In that case, we know that it took more than a century for the technology to catch up with the theory (and in particular, for the transistor to be invented). More generally, we have lots of precedents for a technology being imaginable decades or even centuries before it became technologically feasible--heavier-than-air flight is another example. So there's nothing weird or anomalous about our current situation."
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