October 11, 2005

Big Idea

Nova has been producing excellent science documentaries lately. Their production quality is simply outstanding.  Today's documentary on  KQED was all about E=mc(2). Titled Einstein's Big Idea it was a quite a feast for both mind and eyes.  I would highly recommend this to anybody interested in physics and general stories of the  golden era of physics.

While you are on the site also checkout some select quotes from Einstein.  His take on individualism is worth mentioning here because of the recent emphasis on the importance of community for the general social advancement ( all the buzz around collaboration and community)

"It is important for the common good to foster individuality: for only the individual can produce the new ideas which the community needs for its continuous improvement and requirements—indeed, to avoid sterility and petrification."

Thanks to Nova and KQED for showing this outstanding documentary.

October 11, 2005 in Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 19, 2004

Science breakthroughs

[Via Slashdot] BBC lists Science magazine's breakthroughs of 2004 -

  • Winner: Water on Mars. Nasa's Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity discovered compelling evidence for the prolonged existence of salty, acidic water on the surface of the Red Planet.
  • Runner up: Indonesian "hobbit". A team of archaeologists made the mind-blowing discovery of a new species of human that stood only one metre tall and lived on the Indonesian island of Flores.
  • Human cloning. South Korean researchers made headlines across the world after announcing they had cloned human embryos, the first published and "peer reviewed" evidence this technique could work with human cells.
  • Understanding condensates. In 2004, scientists made giant leaps in understanding ultra-cold gases called condensates, shedding light on some key problems in physics.
  • Hidden DNA treasures. Stretches of "junk DNA" proved to be far more important than previously thought. They turned out to be essential for helping genes turn on at the right time and in the right place.
  • Pulsar pair. Astrophysicists discovered the first known pair of pulsars, spinning neutron stars that shoot out jets of radiation.
  • Declining plant and animal diversity. There was disturbing news this year about the decline of species diversity from large studies that surveyed amphibians, butterflies, plants and birds.
  • Water on tap. New results on the structure and chemical behaviour of water could reshape fields from chemistry to atmospheric science.
  • Medicines for the World's Poor. "Public-private partnerships" emerged as a force in 2004, according to Science magazine, affecting the way medicines are developed and delivered to emerging nations.
  • Genes in a Drop of Water. This year, researchers hit on a new way to identify lifeforms too small and too remote to see. They collected water from diverse environments and sequenced the genes floating in it.

My personal favorite is Mars mission and the medicines for the world's poor. Last one reminds me of a open source dual licensing model. Open source pharma !

(as always enjoy the Slashdot discussion at the bottom)

December 19, 2004 in Science | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 01, 2004

The Poppy-Seed Bagel Theorem

On why mathematics is will always cool:

Recently, Hardin and Saff analyzed a method for generating large numbers of points that are spread with near uniformity over practically any surface of any dimension. Their effort is described in the cover article of the November issue of Notices of the American Mathematical Society.

The procedure has a surprising number of applications. Among other things, it comes in handy when trying to digitize curved surfaces for computer graphics and animations with greater efficiency, in placing the elements of a sonar net on the ocean bottom in the best locations to detect the presence of submarines, and in testing radar systems in aircraft to ensure uniform coverage.

Their theorems also help explain a variety of natural phenomena. They describe some well known patterns such as that of spores on spherical pollen grains and the way electrons distribute themselves on the surface of a sphere.

They also promise to provide new insights into the nature of more complex patterns such as the surface structures of some viruses and the locations of cracks in crystalline materials. "It's a nice mix of mathematical theory, computation and physics," says Hardin.

December 1, 2004 in Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack