Recent Interesting Science Articles (August 2014)

A bit late this past month as I’ve had to spend more time than expected dealing with personal stuff. Only four articles in total here:

  • The hottest piece of news is this article from the UK-version of Wired talking about how a team at NASA has experimentally validated a revolutionary space propulsion drive. The drive supposedly works by bouncing microwaves around inside a closed cavity and somehow generates thrust  without any propellant. If true, this would seem to be a violation of fundamental physics. Personally, I side with the skeptics. It seems likelier than this is due to some error in measurement or in the way the experiment has been set up than that such a device could work.
  • The next article is from The Verge and covers how MIT researchers were able to reconstruct sounds from the tiny vibrations in a bag of potato chips. This is achieved simply by pointing a video camera at the bag while the sound is being played and analyzing the results. Apparently the method also works by looking at the leaves of plants and ripples in a glass of water.
  • This next one isn’t a science article by an extensive survey of prostitution by The Economist. The survey mainly serves to reinforce the truth of stereotypes about the industry, but one surprising result is that sex workers with more education earn more on an hourly basis, in line with jobs in other industries.
  • Finally this last article from the MIT Technology Review discusses a new kind of computer chip designed by IBM that mimics biological neural systems. This represents a break from the chips in use today which works linearly. Also striking is how these new chips consume very little electricity and how the neural structure encompass both memory and processor instead of separating the two.

 

My Dinner with Andre (1981)

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In the three decades since its release, My Dinner with Andre has gained a reputation as a poster child of boring and pretentious art films. As its title indicates, it consists of nothing more than two people sitting down for dinner and having a conversation for two hours. Andre Gregory and Shawn Wallace play characters who appear to be thinly veiled versions of themselves. Having not seen each other for a number of years, Shawn is surprised to receive a dinner invitation from Andre and reluctantly agrees. Andre then proceeds to regale him with stories of the adventures he has had over the past five years.

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The unexamined life is a life not worth living