The sky is blue because the incident light interacts with the gas molecules in the air in such as fashion that more of the light in the blue part of the spectrum is scattered, reaching our eyes on the surface of the planet. All the frequencies of the incident light can be scattered this way, but the high-frequency (short wavelength) blue is scattered more than the lower frequencies in a process known as Rayleigh scattering, described in the 1870′s. John William Strutt, Lord Rayleigh, who also won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1904 for the discovery of argon, demonstrated that, when the wavelength of the light is on the same order as the size of the gas molecules, the intensity of scattered light varies inversely with the fourth power of its wavelength. Shorter wavelengths like blue (and violet) are scattered more than longer ones. It’s as if all the molecules in the air preferentially glow blue, which is what we then see everywhere around us.
Yet, the sky should appear violet since violet light is scattered even more than blue light. But the sky does not appear violet to us because of the final, biological part of the puzzle, which is the way our eyes are designed: they are more sensitive to blue than violet light.
The explanation for why the sky is blue involves so much of the natural sciences: the colors within the visual spectrum, the wave nature of light, the angle at which sunlight hits the atmosphere, the mathematics of scattering, the size of nitrogen and oxygen molecules, and even the way human eyes perceive color. It’s most of science in a question that a young child can ask.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, and ranking minority leader Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) wrote in their Jan. 28 letter that it appeared that prosecutors had intentionally bulked up the felony counts against Swartz in order to increase the amount of time in prison he would face.
On July 14, 2011, federal prosecutors charged Swartz with four felony counts, including wire fraud, computer fraud, theft of information from a computer and recklessly damaging a computer. Then on Sept. 12, 2012, prosecutors filed a superseding indictment with thirteen felony counts.
“It appears that prosecutors increased the felony counts by providing specific dates for each action, turning each marked date into its own felony charge, and significantly increasing Mr. Swartz’s maximum criminal exposure to up to 50 years imprisonment and $1 million in fines,” thelawmakers wrote in their letter(.pdf). […]
In addition to wanting to know what influenced the Justice Department’s decision to prosecute and whether Swartz’s advocacy work played a role in that decision, the lawmakers want the Justice Department to tell them why the superseding indictment was necessary after Swartz had already been charged. They also want to know how the criminal charges and plea offer compared to those in other cases brought under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, under which Swartz was charged.
“The successful people we spoke with — in business, entertainment, sports and the arts — all had similar responses when faced with obstacles: they subjected themselves to fairly merciless self-examination that prompted reinvention of their goals and the methods by which they endeavored to achieve them. […]
No one’s idea of a good time is to take a brutal assessment of their animating assumptions and to acknowledge that those may have contributed to their failure. It’s easy to find pat ways to explain why the world has not adequately rewarded our efforts. But what we learned from conversation with high achievers is that challenging our assumptions, objectives, at times even our goals, may sometimes push us further than we thought possible.”
"A decade after Apple revolutionized the music world with its iTunes store, the music industry is undergoing another, even more radical, digital transformation as listeners begin to move from CDs and downloads to streaming services like Spotify, Pandora and YouTube.
As purveyors of legally licensed music, they have been largely welcomed by an industry still buffeted by piracy. But as the companies behind these digital services swell into multibillion-dollar enterprises, the relative trickle of money that has made its way to artists is causing anxiety at every level of the business.
Late last year, Zoe Keating, an independent musician from Northern California, provided an unusually detailed case in point. In voluminous spreadsheets posted to her Tumblr blog, she revealed the royalties she gets from various services, down to the ten-thousandth of a cent.
Even for an under-the-radar artist like Ms. Keating, who describes her style as “avant cello,” the numbers painted a stark picture of what it is like to be a working musician these days. After her songs had been played more than 1.5 million times on Pandora over six months, she earned $1,652.74. On Spotify, 131,000 plays last year netted just $547.71, or an average of 0.42 cent a play. […]
Spotify, Pandora and others like them pay fractions of a cent to record companies and publishers each time a song is played, some portion of which goes to performers and songwriters as royalties. Unlike the royalties from a sale, these payments accrue every time a listener clicks on a song, year after year.
The question dogging the music industry is whether these micropayments can add up to anything substantial. […]
In a recent interview, Sean Parker, a board member, said he believed Spotify would eventually attract enough subscribers to help return the music industry to its former glory — that is, to the days before Mr. Parker’s first major enterprise, Napster, came along.
“I believe that Spotify is the company that will make it succeed,” said Mr. Parker, who is also a former president of Facebook. “It’s the right model if you want to build the pot of money back up to where it was in the late ’90s, when the industry was at its peak. This is the only model that’s going to get you there.””
"In the morning, I don’t talk to anyone, nor do I think about certain things.
I try to stay within certain confines. I imagine this as a narrow, shadowy corridor with dim bare walls. I’m moving down this corridor, getting to the place where I can write.
I brush my teeth, get dressed, make the bed. I avoid conversation, as my husband knows. I am not yet in the world, and there is a certain risk involved in talking: the night spins a fine membrane, like the film inside an eggshell. It seals you off from the world, but it’s fragile, easily pierced. …
I don’t read the paper or listen to the news. One glance at the headlines, the apprehension of the dire straits of the world, and it would all be over. The membrane will be pierced; it will shrivel and turn to damp shreds. I will find myself thrust into the outside world, my opinions required on unfaithful politicians and the precarious Middle East and the threat of global warming: I should really take action. The voices of the outside world are urgent and demanding.
So I don’t read the news or listen to it. Nor do I make a single phone call, not even to find out if the plumber is actually coming that day to fix the sink, which he has failed to do now for five days in a row. One call and I’m done for. Entering into the daily world, where everything is complicated and requires decisions and conversation, means the end of everything. It means not getting to write.
The reason the morning is so important is that I’ve spent the night somewhere else.”
“Love takes off the masks we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. I use the word ‘love’ here not merely in the personal sense but as a state of being or a state of grace — not in the infantile American sense of being made happy but in the tough and universal sense of quest and daring and growth.”—James Baldwin (*)
The implication is that many of us use the Internet — and the devices, programs, and databases connected to it — as an extension of our brains. This is not a metaphor; the studies indicate that it is a literal reallocation of mental energy. In a way, it makes sense to conserve our brain capacity by storing only the meager data that will allow us to retrieve facts from an external storage device. Or at least Albert Einstein thought so, once remarking: “Never memorize what you can look up in books.”
For half a century neuroscientists have known that specific neuronal pathways grow and proliferate when used, while the disuse of neuron “trees” leads to their shrinkage and gradual loss of efficacy. Even before those discoveries, McLuhan described the process metaphorically, writing that when we adapt to a new tool that extends a function previously performed by the mind alone, we gradually lose touch with our former capacity because a “built-in numbing apparatus” subtly anesthetizes us to accommodate the attachment of a mental prosthetic connecting our brains seamlessly to the enhanced capacity inherent in the new tool.
In Plato’s dialogues, when the Egyptian god Theuth tells one of the kings of Egypt, Thamus, that the new communications technology of the age — writing — would allow people to remember much more than previously, the king disagreed, saying, “It will implant forgetfulness in their souls: they will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that which is written, calling things to remembrance no longer from within themselves, but by means of external marks.” 
So this dynamic is hardly new. What is profoundly different about the combination of Internet access and mobile personal computing devices is that the instantaneous connection between an individual’s brain and the digital universe is so easy that a habitual reliance on external memory (or “exomemory”) can become an extremely common behavior. The more common this behavior becomes, the greater one comes to rely on exomemory — and the less one relies on memories stored in the brain itself. What becomes more important instead are the “external marks” referred to by Thamus 2,400 years ago.
Indeed, one of the new measures of practical intelligence in the twenty-first century is the ease with which someone can quickly locate relevant information on the Internet.
"We hold ourselves back in ways both big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in … We internalize the negative messages we get throughout our lives, the messages that say it’s wrong to be outspoken, aggressive, more powerful than men. We lower our own expectations of what we can achieve. We continue to do the majority of the housework and child care. We compromise our career goals to make room for partners and children who may not even exist yet."