Physicists are rarely wealthy or famous, but a new prize rewarding research at the field’s cutting edges has made nine of them instant multimillionaires. The nine are recipients of the Fundamental Physics Prize, established by Yuri Milner, a Russian physics student who dropped out of graduate school in 1989 and later earned billions investing in Internet companies like Facebook and Groupon.
“It knocked me off my feet,” said Alan H. Guth, a professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was among the winners. He came up with the idea of cosmic inflation, that there was a period of extremely rapid expansion in the first instant of the universe.
When he was told of the $3 million prize, he assumed that the money would be shared among the winners. Not so: Instead, each of this year’s nine recipients will receive $3 million, the most lucrative academic prize in the world. The Nobel Prize currently comes with an award of $1.2 million, usually split by two or three people. […]
The $3 million has already appeared in Dr. Guth’s bank account, one that had had a balance of $200. “Suddenly, it said, $3,000,200,” he said. […]
The other winners are Andrei Linde, a physicist at Stanford who also worked on cosmic inflation; Alexei Kitaev, a professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology who works on quantum computers; Maxim Kontsevich, a mathematician at the Institute of Advanced Scientific Studies outside Paris whose abstract mathematical findings proved useful to physicists unraveling string theory; and Ashoke Sen, a string theorist at Harish-Chandra Research Institute in India.
“Possibly, if you cloned a number of people, raised them without any exposure to society, and forced air through their vocal tracts, they might produce different overall sounds, depending on race, and purely as a matter of physiology and acoustics. Right now, however, there’s no real evidence of a characteristic physiological voice produced by people of different races. What differences there are, physiologically, are more than overwhelmed by age, health, and the deliberate use of the social voice.”—Your vocal cords are color blind | The Dish
Researchers in Spain used a huge archive known as the Million Song Dataset, which breaks down audio and lyrical content into data that can be crunched, to study pop songs from 1955 to 2010.
A team led by artificial intelligence specialist Joan Serra at the Spanish National Research Council ran music from the last 50 years through some complex algorithms and found that pop songs have become intrinsically louder and more bland in terms of the chords, melodies and types of sound used.
"We found evidence of a progressive homogenization of the musical discourse," Serra told Reuters. "In particular, we obtained numerical indicators that the diversity of transitions between note combinations - roughly speaking chords plus melodies - has consistently diminished in the last 50 years."
“Personally, I love what NBC has done with the Olympics.
I always dreamed of living in an era before the Internet, without Twitter or online streaming or live breaking-news updates. And watching the tape-delayed Olympics on NBC, I feel like I’m there.
It’s just like I pictured: I would gather around the large, box-shaped television with my extended family and adjust the rabbit ears, and we would watch, riveted, as something that had happened hours ago appeared on the screen, preferably in black and white. And Bob Costas would be there. […]
Do they not realize that we live in an age of 25/7 media updates? Some people on Twitter tell you what is happening before it has actually happened. […] It used to be that Twitter just prevented you from enjoying or appreciating the things that were going on around you at the time. But now it’s ruining things that happened hours ago in a foreign country. Heck, the radio knows what happened before NBC will tell you. That’s saying something.
NBC’s efforts to pretend that none of this is a problem remind me of the awkward moment at a historical reenactment when a plane flies overhead. “A curious bird!” Colonial Interpreter William says, cocking his head. “Lo, there be demon spirits in the wind!”
NBC has put so much effort into replicating the conditions of the past. “Context,” quipped Darren Rovell, “NBC’s ideal viewer is someone who doesn’t get sports text alerts, doesn’t appointment stream or get on Twitter.” “NBC’s ideal viewer still lives in 1987,” joked NotBillWalton.”
“We seek to preserve peace by fighting a war, or to advance freedom by subsidizing dictatorships, or to ‘win the hearts and minds of the people’ by poisoning their crops and burning their villages and confining them in concentration camps; we seek to uphold the ‘truth’ of our cause with lies, or to answer conscientious dissent with threats and slurs and intimidations… . I have come to the realization that I can no longer imagine a war that I would believe to be either useful or necessary. I would be against any war.”—Wendell Berry, 1968
“NBC, which reportedly paid $1.18bn for rights to the London Olympics, is not broadcasting or streaming the opening ceremony live. Instead, it is saving it for prime time, showing the whole thing some four hours later, with coverage starting at 7.30pm on the east coast. It’s even being delayed for viewers on the west coast, who will have to wait until 7.30pm Pacific time before it’s shown on their local affiliates. The reason of course is money - NBC wants to maximise its more valuable primetime audience.”—Guardian’s Live Olympics Blog
The wise men of Washington tell us that candidates are silent on guns because to speak out is to incur the wrath of the National Rifle Association. But polls consistently show that gun owners, including NRA members, overwhelmingly support the common sense measures that mayors across the country have been trying to get Washington to pass for years. […]
The NRA is a $200 million-plus-a-year lobbying juggernaut, with much of its funding coming from gun manufacturers and merchandising. More than anything, the NRA is a marketing organization, and its flagship product is fear. Gun sales jumped after Obama was elected president, based on the absurd — and now demonstrably false — fear that he would seek to ban guns.
There is one particular fear the NRA manufactures with great success: fear of electoral defeat. Romney has walked away from the assault-weapons ban he once supported, and in nearly four years, Obama has offered no legislation to rein in illegal guns. In Congress, the NRA threatens lawmakers who fail to do its ideological bidding, although its record in defeating candidates is much more myth than reality.
Playboy: Much of the controversy surrounding 2001 deals with the meaning of the metaphysical symbols that abound in the film — the polished black monoliths, the orbital conjunction of Earth, Moon and sun at each stage of the monoliths’ intervention in human destiny, the stunning final kaleidoscopic maelstrom of time and space that engulfs the surviving astronaut and sets the stage for his rebirth as a “star-child” drifting toward Earth in a translucent placenta. One critic even called 2001 “the first Nietzschean film,” contending that its essential theme is Nietzsche’s concept of man’s evolution from ape to human to superman. What was the metaphysical message of 2001?
Kubrick: It’s not a message that I ever intend to convey in words. 2001 is a nonverbal experience; out of two hours and 19 minutes of film, there are only a little less than 40 minutes of dialog. I tried to create a visual experience, one that bypasses verbalized pigeonholing and directly penetrates the subconscious with an emotional and philosophic content. To convolute McLuhan, in 2001 the message is the medium. I intended the film to be an intensely subjective experience that reaches the viewer at an inner level of consciousness, just as music does; to “explain” a Beethoven symphony would be to emasculate it by erecting an artificial barrier between conception and appreciation. You’re free to speculate as you wish about the philosophical and allegorical meaning of the film — and such speculation is one indication that it has succeeded in gripping the audience at a deep level — but I don’t want to spell out a verbal road map for 2001 that every viewer will feel obligated to pursue or else fear he’s missed the point. I think that if 2001 succeeds at all, it is in reaching a wide spectrum of people who would not often give a thought to man’s destiny, his role in the cosmos and his relationship to higher forms of life. But even in the case of someone who is highly intelligent, certain ideas found in 2001 would, if presented as abstractions, fall rather lifelessly and be automatically assigned to pat intellectual categories; experienced in a moving visual and emotional context, however, they can resonate within the deepest fibers of one’s being.
“It turns out your conscious mind — the part you think of as you — is really the smallest part of what’s happening in your brain, and usually the last one in line to find out any information.”—David Eagleman
I – like most Americans – believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms. I think we recognize the traditions of gun ownership passed on from generation to generation, that hunting and shooting are part of a cherished national heritage.
But I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers and not in the hands of crooks. They belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities. […]
As we convene these conversations, let’s be clear even as we debate government’s role, we have to understand that when a child opens fire on another child, there’s a hole in that child’s heart that government alone can’t fill. It’s got to be up to us as parents, as neighbors and as teachers and as mentors to make sure our young people don’t have that void inside them. It’s up to us to spend time with them. To pay more attention to them. To show them more love and they learn to love each other and they learn to love one another and they grow up knowing what it is to walk a mile in somebody else’s shoes and to view the world in somebody else’s eyes.
Under the ban, medical patients and their caregivers will be able to grow and share the drug in small groups of three people or less.
But the activists say most patients don’t have the time or skills to cultivate marijuana. One dispensary owner told the council that it would cost patients a minimum of $5,000 to grow marijuana at home.