Weekly Roundup 192: A Curated Linkfest For The Smartest People On The Web!
Handpicked to satisfy your intellectual curiosity!
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Joshua Foer (of Moonwalking with Einstein): How I Learned A Language In 22 Hours – via The Browser – Foer says he’s no natural linguist but he managed to learn an entire Lingala dictionary and converse with pygmies in northern Congo. And here’s the thing: He really isn’t special; it all comes down to learning techniques
An Animated Open Letter to President Obama on the State of Science Education – via Brain Pickings – Many of us living in the United States have recently taken a massive exhale at the triumphant news of four more years of sanity and progress. But it isn’t all unicorns and rainbows for President Obama, who will have to address some serious challenges. The fine folks of MinutePhysics — who have previously explained why the color pink doesn’t exist, why the past is different from the future, and why it’s dark at night — have zoomed in one of them in this animated open letter to the President, addressing an astonishing gap in physics education: Namely, the fact that most high school curricula cover none of the physics breakthroughs that have taken place in the past 150 years, including “the topic of every single Nobel Prize in physics since…always.” MinutePhysics advises the President to take a cue from Carl Sagan, Richard Feynman, and Neil deGrasse Tyson — men “committed 100% to the dissemination of the awesomeness of the universe” — and reignite the educational spark of physics.
Ted Talk -The beautiful nano details of our world – via Video on TED.com – When photographed under a 3D microscope, grains of sand appear like colorful pieces of candy and the stamens in a flower become like fantastical spires at an amusement park. Gary Greenberg reveals the thrilling details of the micro world.
Nick Carr- The Crisis in Higher Education – via MIT Technology Review – The excitement over MOOCs comes at a time of growing dissatisfaction with the state of college education. The average price tag for a bachelor’s degree has shot up to more than $100,000. Spending four years on campus often leaves young people or their parents weighed down with big debts, a burden not only on their personal finances but on the overall economy. And many people worry that even as the cost of higher education has risen, its quality has fallen. Dropout rates are often high, particularly at public colleges, and many graduates display little evidence that college improved their critical-thinking skills. Close to 60 percent of Americans believe that the country’s colleges and universities are failing to provide students with “good value for the money they and their families spend,” according to a 2011 survey by the Pew Research Center. Proponents of MOOCs say the efficiency and flexibility of online instruction will offer a timely remedy.
Is It Possible To Improve Your Chances Of Winning Big In The National Lottery? – via The Browser – The headline is carefully written. And the answer is yes. You can’t improve the chances of your numbers being chosen, but you can give yourself a better chance of not having to split your winnings with other players
The Science of What We Call “Intuition” – via Brain Pickings – The word intuition comes from the Latin intuir, which appropriately means ‘knowledge from within.’ Until recently, intuition, like consciousness, was the sort of thing that self-respecting scientists stayed clear of, on penalty of being accused of engaging in New Age woo-woo rather than serious science. Heck, even most philosophers — who historically had been very happy to talk about consciousness, far ahead of the rise of neurobiology — found themselves with not much to say about intuition. However, these days cognitive scientists think of intuition as a set of nonconscious cognitive and affective processes; the outcome of these processes is often difficult to articulate and is not based on deliberate thinking, but it’s real and (sometimes) effective nonetheless. It was William James, the father of modern psychology, who first proposed the idea that cognition takes place in two different modes, and his insight anticipated modern so-called dual theories of cognition. Intuition works in an associative manner: it feels effortless (even though it does use a significant amount of brain power), and it’s fast. Rational thinking, on the contrary, is analytical, requires effort, and is slow. Why, then, would we ever want to use a system that makes us work hard and doesn’t deliver rapid results? Think of it this way: intuitions, contrary to much popular lore, are not infallible. Cognitive scientists treat them as quick first assessments of a given situation, as provisional hypotheses in need of further checking.
Dan Ariely :Why Willpower Doesn’t Work « – via danariely.com – This week, the Arming the Donkeys podcast features Roy Baumeister, professor of psychology at Florida State University. Roy and I speak about ego depletion, and how the longer we resist temptation, the more likely we are to give in later.
Dan Ariely Presents “A Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior” – via Open Culture -Here’s one thing you can look forward to early next year. Dan Ariely, a well-known professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University, will present A Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior as a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). If you’ve been with us for a while, you’re already familiar with Ariely’s work. You’ve seen his videos explaining why well-intentioned people lie, or why CEOs repeatedly get outsized bonuses that defy logic. And you know that economics, when looked at closely, is a much messier affair than many rational choice theorists might care to admit.
The History of Western Architecture in 39 Free Video Lectures – via Open Culture – If you have plans to visit the Old World any time soon, you should spend a few good minutes — make that hours — with The History of Architecture, a free course that recently debuted on iTunes. Taught by Jacqueline Gargus at Ohio State, the course features 39 video lectures that collectively offer a classic survey of Western architecture. We begin in Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, laying the conceptual foundations for what’s to come. Then we dive headlong into Islamic, Byzantine and Medieval architecture, before spending a good deal of time with Renaissance, Baroque, and Rococo styles. Of course, we encounter many great landmarks along the way: the pyramids of Egypt, the temples of Ancient Greece, the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, Chartres in France, Brunelleschi’s Duomo of Florence, and the list goes on…
Why using cash may not protect your privacy in the future–game theory – via Mind Your Decisions – Cash has always been the currency for privacy, from bribes to drug deals to prostitution. Law abiding citizens too find comfort in cash, to say, avoid a paper trail from a bachelor party.
My 6,128 Favorite Books – via WSJ.com – A case can be made that people who read a preposterous number of books are not playing with a full deck. I prefer to think of us as dissatisfied customers. If you have read 6,000 books in your lifetime, or even 600, it’s probably because at some level you find “reality” a bit of a disappointment. People in the 19th century fell in love with “Ivanhoe” and “The Count of Monte Cristo” because they loathed the age they were living through. Women in our own era read “Pride and Prejudice” and “Jane Eyre” and even “The Bridges of Madison County”—a dimwit, hayseed reworking of “Madame Bovary”—because they imagine how much happier they would be if their husbands did not spend quite so much time with their drunken, illiterate golf buddies down at Myrtle Beach. A blind bigamist nobleman with a ruined castle and an insane, incinerated first wife beats those losers any day of the week. Blind, two-timing noblemen never wear belted shorts.
Chris Anderson on Why He’s Leaving Digital for DIY – via The Atlantic Cities – Wired’s long-time editor in chief, Chris Anderson, announced on Friday that he was leaving the magazine to become CEO of his DIY-drone company, 3D Robotics. This move comes a month after the release of his latest book, Makers: The New Industrial Revolution. In an interview last week (and a brief follow-up after Friday’s announcement), Anderson talked with me about today’s biggest revolution in how and where we actually make things. If the last few decades have been about big digital forces — the Internet, social media — he notes that the future will be about applying all of that in the real world. “Wondrous as the Web is,” he writes, “it doesn’t compare to the real world. Not in economic size (online commerce is less than 10 percent of all sales) and not in its place in our lives. The digital revolution has been largely limited to screens.” But, he adds, the salient fact remains that “we live in homes, drive in cars, and work in offices.” And it is that physical part of the economy that is undergoing the biggest and most fundamental change.
The Dark Romance and Grim Reality of Life in the French Foreign Legion – via Vanity Fair – It’s the dark romance of the French Foreign Legion: haunted men from everywhere, fighting anywhere, dying for causes not their own. Legionnaires need war, certainly, and Afghanistan is winding down. But there’s always the hopeless battle against rogue gold miners in French Guiana
When Thugs and Hustlers Ruled Dark Alleys in New York – via NYTimes.com – Many bowling alleys today are places where the martinis cost you at least as much as the bowling and a mirror ball twirls over neon lanes while a D.J. shouts in the booming dark. But those who roamed them between dusk and dawn in 1960s New York City recall places where kids too young to shave made more money in a night than their parents made in a year, con men faked heart attacks to evade the gangsters they swindled, and no one went home before sunrise.
Who Is Fethullah Gulen? – via www.city-journal.org – Controversial Muslim preacher, feared Turkish intriguer—and “inspirer” of the largest charter school network in America
The Architecture of Evil – via www.thenewatlantis.com – The technical professions occupy a unique place in modern society. Engineers and architects possess skills most others lack — skills that allow them to transform dreams of design into reality. Engineers can convert a dry, infertile valley into farmland by constructing a dam to provide irrigation; they have made man fly; and architects have constructed buildings that reach thousands of feet into the sky. But these same technical gifts alone, in the absence of a sense of morality and a capacity for critical thought and judgment, can also make reality of nightmares. Ferdinand Porsche, the engineer who designed the Volkswagen — an automobile that revolutionized personal travel for the common man — also designed a terrifying battle tank that helped kill millions of Russians on the Eastern Front. Wernher von Braun, who would later design the Saturn V rocket that brought American astronauts to the Moon, designed the V-2 rockets with which the Nazis terrorized Antwerp and London in the waning months of the Second World War.
How Zara Grew Into the World’s Largest Fashion Retailer – via NYTimes.com – Galicia, on the Atlantic coast of northern Spain, is the homeland of Generalissimo Francisco Franco, but is otherwise famous for being a place people try to leave. For much of the 20th century, hundreds of thousands of gallegos, as they are called, emigrated to countries as far away as Argentina to escape Galicia’s rural poverty. Today, however, even as Spain teeters on the edge of economic catastrophe, the Galician city La Coruña has attracted notice as the hometown of Amancio Ortega Gaona, the world’s third-richest man — he displaced Warren Buffett this year on the Bloomberg billionaire index — and the founder of a wildly successful fashion company, Inditex, more commonly known by its oldest and biggest brand, Zara.
Infographics: Global Flows of Military Imports and Exports – – via The Visual Du Jour – Global Flows – From Chrome Experiments, this awesome visual of imports / exports flows on military items
Infographics: A Power Hungry Internet – via Infographics Showcase – The internet has become a place that many people depend on to get through their daily lives. Most people have to get on the internet every day for one reason or another. At the same time we need internet it is also using up our power and costing us more money. This infographic shows the costs of internet and also why satellite internet service might be the best option.