A polar bear display for the zoo. Free towels at public swimming pools. A “drug-free Parliament by 2020.” Iceland’s Best Party, founded in December by a comedian, Jon Gnarr, to satirize his country’s political system, ran a campaign that was one big joke. Or was it?
Jon Gnarr is now the fourth mayor in four years of a city that is home to more than a third of Iceland’s 320,000 people.
Last month, in the depressed aftermath of the country’s financial collapse, the Best Party emerged as the biggest winner in Reykjavik’s elections, with 34.7 percent of the vote, and Mr. Gnarr — who also promised a classroom of kindergartners he would build a Disneyland at the airport — is now the fourth mayor in four years of a city that is home to more than a third of the island’s 320,000 people.
Legions of jittery, media-conscious New Yorkers are eating themselves alive signing up for feeds they never end up reading in hopes of becoming better people—more knowledgeable, more fun to talk to, more in control of their Internet consumption. They subscribe to dozens, sometimes hundreds of news sources, each of them added to the list with the best of intentions, motivated by the knowledge that, if they really wanted to—that is, if they had it in them to be disciplined and vigilantly curious—they could know everything there is to know. And so these poor balls of anxiety walk around with a constant awareness of all the hundreds of unread news stories, essays, reviews, and blog posts waiting for them on computers—all the marvels they’re missing on Boing Boing and Kottke, all the Marginal Revolution posts, all the oil spill updates from The New York Times’ U.S. news feed. Call it Reader’s Despair Syndrome, a condition that is afflicting New York’s young and old with equal viciousness, but which tends to produce the most dramatic symptoms in people in their 20s and 30s, who retain hope that they will one day become more productive and virtuous in their Internet reading habits.
“Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars – mere globs of gas atoms. I too can see the stars on a desert night, and feel them. But do I see less or more? The vastness of the heavens stretches my imagination – stuck on this carousel my little eye can catch one-million-year-old light. A vast pattern – of which I am a part… What is the pattern, or the meaning, or the why? It does not do harm to the mystery to know a little about it. For far more marvelous is the truth than any artists of the past imagined it. Why do the poets of the present not speak of it? What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?”—Richard Feynman
Since 1900, life expectancy was 44…. it rose to 76 at 2000, now at 2010 is at 80.
Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer Jonathan Weiner talks on WNYC Radio about the quest for eternal youth and the scientists, researchers, and entrepreneurs who believe that human immortality is not only possible, but attainable in our own time. In his new book, Long for this World: The Strange Science of Immortality, Weiner meets the leading intellectuals in the field and delves into the science behind the latest research.
STEM cells have restored sight to 82 people with eyes blinded by chemical or heat burns. The results provide a timely boost for bona fide stem-cell researchers following a recent patient death due to an untested stem-cell treatment and mounting concerns over private clinics offering bogus treatments. Of the 107 eye patients treated, some as long as a decade ago, the successful cases had sight restored to a level up to 0.9 on a visual acuity scale, in which 1 represents perfect vision, reports Graziella Pellegrini at the University of Modena in Italy (The New England Journal of Medicine (DOI: 10.1056/nejmoa0905955).
In their Untitled work (2008), that is reminiscent of the accuracy of a scientific experiment, Daniel Margulies and Chris Sharp make use of fMRI recordings to map brain activity in a subject who, after having meditated on a passage about knowledge and perception from Kant’s Critique of Judgment, listens to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. Their video shows a cross-section of a brain with changing patterns of colours in the areas that highlight during the experience. A copy of Kant’s text as well as headphones channelling the music are available to viewers, who thus can perform and identify with the experiment by viewing on the screen an imagery that might be similarly going on in their own brains.
“In a resolution adopted Tuesday, the European Parliament officially endorsed the development of the Internet of Things. This resolution frankly encourages the development of an Internet of Things in the European Union. It even calls on the European IoT Commission to “secure co-financing for the implementation of these technologies” and “continue funding pilot projects.”
A bloody 10-year dispute in the Ugandan jungle ended in mid-2009 with the victors seizing territory held by the vanquished. The episode represents the first solid evidence that chimpanzees kill their rivals to acquire land, and could help explain the evolutionary origins of some aspects of belligerent as well as cooperative behaviour in humans.
In the time it takes you to read this sentence, more than a thousand tweets will have been twittered and dozens of blogs posted. Much of their content will be ephemeral fluff: personal gripes and tittle-tattle interesting to no one but the parties concerned. Yet despite this, it is possible to use that torrent of information to make predictions about social and economic trends that affect us all.
Many sites on the web offer some limited support for encryption over HTTPS, but make it difficult to use. For instance, they may default to unencrypted HTTP, or fill encrypted pages with links that go back to the unencrypted site.
The HTTPS Everywhere extension fixes these problems by rewriting all requests to these sites to HTTPS.
In image processing, computer graphics, and photography, high dynamic range imaging (HDRI or just HDR) is a set of techniques that allow a greater dynamic range of luminances between the lightest and darkest areas of an image than standard digital imaging techniques or photographic methods. This wider dynamic range allows HDR images to more accurately represent the wide range of intensity levels found in real scenes, ranging from direct sunlight to faint starlight.
The Mad Bionix forums have lit up. Everybody’s asking, who’s responsible for the train crash? Meanwhile up in the hills of the Nawlz District 5 Greenbelt, Skyman receives an unexpected visitor in the middle of the night.
"The New Scientist story speculates that the sun might be losing its ability to make sunspots, and could be done by as soon as 2015. That’s probably a long shot, but if that did happen, it could leave us with a “new Little Ice Age,” hitting Europe in particular because of kinda complicated and speculative correlations between sunspot activity and overall climate activity."
I’ve been teaching undergrads about the sun’s effect on the climate in astro for years… but I didn’t expect this doozy! (From a reputable source)
Some of Silicon Valley’s smartest and wealthiest people have embraced the Singularity. They believe that technology may be the only way to solve the world’s ills, while also allowing people to seize control of the evolutionary process. For those who haven’t noticed, the Valley’s most-celebrated company — Google — works daily on building a giant brain that harnesses the thinking power of humans in order to surpass the thinking power
“On a gut level, my feeling is death is unacceptable. I did not sign that contract. I looked at the small print and everything else, its unacceptable. And thats sort of a gut feeling in the sense that we love life. Death is an insult to our spirit”—Sam Keen (From Flight from Death doco)
A study from the University of Sheffield found the reproductive success of both men and women is related to personality. But not for the same traits—women with higher levels of neuroticism are more fertile, and extraverted men have a bigger brood.